Interview with NFDA President Marc Strandquist

Q: According to your observation, what was the trend of the R&D, supply, demand, and application of U.S. fastener market in the past 3 years'?

A: More and more customers are developing alternate coatings they want for their fasteners. Moving towards zinc flake or something similar. Efforts to use lighter materials and take weight out of the application is also a trend we are seeing. More eco-friendly packaging is a trend as well.

Q: According to U.S. International Trade Administration, during 2013-2015, U.S. top two fastener import origins were Taiwan and China (followed by Japan and Germany in the 3rd and 4th place respectively). What do you think the chief considerations of U.S. import from Taiwan and China are and which application in the U.S. are these fasteners mainly used? What do you think the chief considerations of U.S. import from Japan and Germany are and which application in the U.S. are these fasteners mainly used?

A: I think the import strategies are going away from a country specific rationale. For most companies they are focused on finding and working with high quality suppliers. Rarely do I hear anyone say we need to increase our import content from a specific country. The topic is always quality first, then of course low cost.

I think the next set of considerations for source selection will be supply chain style based criteria. Meaning packaging and freight/logistics. Packaging improvements is defined as supplier putting product into prepack quantities as well logos on cartons.

The last frontier is the freight logistics strategies to reduce inventory with more frequent shipments but still keeping freight costs down. Too many suppliers want to ship six months EAU or worse a year’s worth.

Q: This past July USITC announced the extension of the antidumping measure on stainless steel wire rods originating in Japan, S. Korea, and Taiwan for 5 years. Do you think such extension will result in certain impact on local U.S. companies demanding for stainless steel fastener wire rods? And, how will U.S. distributors and importers react to the extension?

A: Any of the anti-dumping measures on any product causes problems. Keeping track of all these rules and regulations can be a burden for smaller companies who do not have the skill sets required. Not all brokers are qualified to make these determinations and all involved get exposed to potential fines and duties.

Companies will follow the path of less risk and will certainly consider buying from domestic suppliers. Both manufacturers and master distributors. Let them handle the headache of compliance. For those that take the chance of still buying from targeted countries and or products they take on the risk.

Q: Hundreds of companies have booked their booths at NIFMSE'16. which is a clear sign that U.S. fastener market is still promising for many exhibitors. What is your opinion about U.S. fastener market in the future 3 years?

A: I believe we will see moderate growth and it will not exceed 3% a year. As you look at manufacturing in the US there are no promising signs of growth to change to a more optimistic view. A strong US dollar is the most challenging issue. Then as you look to our traditional trading partners Europe, Canada, Mexico and Brazil there continue to be difficulties ahead for the US to export our products.

Q:“Industry 4.0“ is a hot issue currently discussed in the European and Asian fastener industries. Is there also any similar program which has been recently introduced into U.S. fastener industry? And, what is its recent development and application?

A: I am unaware of any substantial activity in this area within the US. Yes of course robots and automation efforts to improve efficiencies but nothing as sophisticated as this concept.

Q: More and more companies have turned their focus on the development of automotive or aerospace fasteners and the demand for these products is also increasing. What is the current development of these product categories in U.S. fastener industry?

A: The Big Three and the transplants have enjoyed several positive years. The average age of the vehicles on the street is still over ten years. That is a lot of pent up demand still out there. We may see a slight down cycle during this pre-election time period but in the end I believe we have three more good years left in this cycle.

As for aerospace both the commercial and military markets remain strong and should stay that way for several years.

Q: What is your expectation for U.S. fastener market in 2017? Which product category do you think will be the most promising and the most potential in the market?

A: I think 2017 will be stagnant still with moderate growth at best. Too many markets still at the bottom agriculture equipment, construction/ mining equipment, oil and gas, class 8 trucks to name a few dominant ones.

As for product category there really is not anything that is showing as innovative and industry leading. There are many interesting products that have been around a while that can help promote quality and efficiency but nothing I would single out.

Q: In 2017, does NFDA have any plan or schedule to assist its members in facing new challenges or facilitate interchange among members and interaction with other associations?

A: The Board always is considering programs that support our mission to "help our members thrive in the global marketplace.” We are partnering with the Pacific-West Fastener Association and the New England Fastener Distributors Association for two of our three meetings in 2017.

Q: Is there anything else you would also like to share with the readers?

A: NFDA really supports and promotes the relationships between its distribution members and their manufacturing and master distributor suppliers. Our fastener distribution base recognizes the need to work together to everyone’s benefit. By providing networking opportunities and promoting strong business relationships we show our commitment to our business partners in the supply base.

 

Date : 24.02.2017