When the Right Fastener isn't Enough
An Avdel Interlock Multi-Grip Rivet from OEM Fastening Systems.
Photo courtesy of OEM Fastening Systems.
Georgia company offers engineered fasteners and application tooling to automotive and other sectors
As the economy continues to recover, pent-up demand for new products in a number of industries, including automotive, is creating more business for manufacturers and providers of specialty parts. One of those is OEM Fastening Systems, a Lawrenceville, Ga.-based distributor of engineered fasteners. The ISO 9001:2008 certified company, also ASBE certified as a woman-owned business, provides specialty fasteners and custom components, along with application tooling, to the automotive, industrial, and medical markets. OEM Fastening is also a factory authorized repair center for Pop Rivet tools and components.
“We find that a lot of tooling money, as well as engineering money, is becoming more and more available to advance new products to market now than there has been in recent history,” said Tom Smith, sales manager and co-owner of OEM Fastening Systems, in a recent phone interview.
As a distributor of engineered fasteners, OEM Fastening steers away from the “Home Depot” type of parts “unless you’re already a customer, and then we can help you out with ‘order 20 slot head screws,’” said Smith. “We prefer to have an engineered drawing that is specific to your business and application, and, with that, we find ourselves to be more competitive than many of our competitors. About 50 percent of our business is automotive based, and we’re providing a part that is U.S.-manufactured whenever possible, to be competitive.”
OEM Fastening Systems (oemfast.com) takes pride in its ability to assist the design and manufacturing engineers of its customers in providing the right fastener for the appropriate application, as well as the appropriate tool to maximize the production effort. The company is able to draw upon a wide assortment of special and custom fasteners—including blind rivets, speed fasteners, blind threaded rivets, specialty screws, inserts, and lock bolts—and tools for the fastener application.
“We sell the POP line of rivet guns and we also sell the Atlas line of Rivnut (Rivet Nut) guns,” said Smith. “Given the opportunity, we can provide a complete application for both the part and the tool to insert the part.”
Blind rivets, Smith explained, are used in joining applications that don’t require a threaded process, and can be used to join two pieces of metal, a piece of metal and a piece of plastic, or two pieces of plastic. They provide a smoother finish on both sides of the assembly because they don’t require a bolt head, screw head, or nut on the backside. “They [the users] can actually point and shoot the rivet in the aligned holes to join the product,” he said. “It seals and grips the product from both sides of the application without the use of two fasteners, so you’re able to use just one fastener to join both parts.”
Reasons for wanting a smoother finish on both sides of the assembly include aesthetics and safety, according to Smith, who said that OEM Fastening’s rivets are used to put school seats together in the furniture industry. “Those rivets provide an acceptable, smooth finish to both the seat and the back,” he said. “With it being smooth, there’s not a sharp point.”
Speed fasteners, used primarily in the appliance industry, are for applications that are more automated. “Normally, in the rivet application, you’re picking up a rivet and loading it into the gun and fastening one rivet ahead of time, and it’s a very manual operation,” Smith said. “The speed fastening systems are loaded on a piece of tape that holds hundreds of them together, and you are literally able to just fire away as fast as you can pull the trigger. It’s like a machine gun type process, almost, or like an automatic rifle type process, where you are firing every time you pull the trigger.”
Smith said that as more cars continue to be built than ever before, he’s seeing increased demand for any components that are used in automotive applications, which he called OEM Fastening’s best and strongest market segment. OEM Fastening Systems provides a number of different components for the automotive industry, ranging from lock nuts in air bag assemblies to rivets in bumper assemblies, as well as bolts and screws in assemblies behind the dashboard.
“The automotive sector has been so strong, really, through the economic recession and all the way through today, so anything to do with that is very strong,” he said. “And that’s across the line as far as everything that we sell, whether they be nuts, bolts, screws, or rivets.”
In addition to automotive, the company also services a number of other market segments, including appliances, medical equipment, and outdoor power equipment, which Smith said refers to “anything that’s used outside that’s got an engine on it and is not a car—anything from a walk-behind lawnmower to a riding lawnmower to an ATV to a utility vehicle, to a golf cart.” As the economy improves, he noted, people are spending more money on these outdoor items, particularly as housing starts pick up.
“When people buy a house, or build a house, that’s the first thing they do,” he said. “They buy new appliances, they buy a new lawnmower, and those markets are returning strongly.”
The company provides outside services that include thread patching, according to Smith, who said that the company’s largest piece of business is a lock nut that has the ID thread patched. “Once it is assembled into air bag assemblies, it can never come apart again,” he said. “We sell 20 million of those a year.”
OEM Fastening Systems maintains a regular customer satisfaction survey, contacting customers on a quarterly basis to make sure that they’re being serviced in the way that they expect to be serviced in quality, delivery, and price. Carla Smith, the company’s president and Tom’s wife, manages this part of the company’s business. She said that the company maintains a better than 95 percent rating in customer satisfaction, measured on the basis of on-time delivery, returned materials authorizations, and dashboard reports received from customers. “Our dashboard reports are excellent,” said Ms. Smith. “We take quality very, very seriously, and we’re ISO 9001:2008 certified through 2017.”
A track record of building strong collaborative relationships with its customers remains a cornerstone of OEM Fastening’s success. “One of the really important things when we hire people is to discuss with them how important customer service and integrity are to this business,” Ms. Smith continued. “We are family-run, and so it is expected that we develop relationships with our suppliers and our customers.”
Employees are given training and then empowered with the tools they need to manage situations on their own, she said. “They do a fantastic job. I think that’s one of the keys to success—to provide the right tools and enough time for every employee here to do what has to be done in order to make it right.”
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