Fastenal's success in Latin America is a result of approaching each market as a different entity from others, considering the local behavior in business-related matters. From a starting point implying the company's flexibility and adaptation to any new surroundings. Some of the core values shared by Fastenal collaborators worldwide include:
The company's standards for internal procedures in LATAM are the same as those created by the company in the United States -- every Fastenal location in Latin America is supported by the same sales and inventory management software that was custom-made for transactions in North America.
One of Fastenal's most recent and heralded achievements in the region is the successful deployment of on-site solutions such as providing inventory management services, which was a proven solution for the company's clients in North America and has become a fully-developed scheme in Latin America, also.
"This model had been deployed into Latin America some years ago, but it took some time for it to operate at the same level it does on North America", the executive said.
Partners at home, partners abroad
Most of Fastenal suppliers also have a solid presence in the same foreign markets as the company does. Business relationships are also carried abroad, but local purveyors, normally leading companies in their specialty, also carry out some tasks. The company's operations are eased by long-term relationships with reliable suppliers, and this same principle is exported to Fastenal subsidiaries worldwide.
"We work hand in hand with our suppliers when use of a certain product requires special training, some of them have preceded us in presence abroad," Garcia explained.
Point of Use vending machines, the permanent supplier
Fastenal's innovation spirit shows that vending machines are not just for soft drink or food consumption, but also for supplying of materials and other consumables inside clients' facilities. Fluids, abrasives, adhesives, tools, safety items (gloves, helmets, etc.), and other items are now available on-site 24/7 through vending machines, avoiding long waits to replenish supplies, item delivery and other difficulties.
Machines are connected to the Internet, providing helpful data such as remaining stock, item use and other fields to be evaluated by Fastenal and its clients.
"Our vending machines provide an outstanding solution to our clients as an on-site solution, its software and analytics result in savings and supply optimization", explained the VP.
Aside from the core values shared by Fastenal's staff at every level on every location, the company provides the same training programs worldwide.
Around 15 years ago, the company opened the Fastenal School of Business, where employees from every affiliate receive on-site and online training according to specific needs in the market they are engaged at. The Fastenal School of Business' HQ is located in Winona, Minnesota, with locations in other countries where the company operates. Sometimes employees travel to a certain training from a foreign location; other times instructors are sent to Fastenal locations to provide the School of Business trainings in different countries.
Also, Fastenal's Blue Team Sports program supports employees and their families to engage into team sports by providing uniforms, equipment and other benefits.
"Our road to success begins when we hire the right individuals, people sharing our same values," Garcia pointed.
Future: room to grow amidst difficult conditions
Fastenal's main challenges within the LATAM region are related with currency exchange-related matters, and 2016 may bring harder conditions; nevertheless, this is not stopping Fastenal from engaging in new business ventures and continue to increase its market share within this region, with more Fastenal locations to open next year.
“Our clients should focus on their own productivity while we become in charge of their inventory's management," the executive stated.