Rix Quinn 2014-10-10 00:55:27
Marc Strandquist will never forget the day in 1986 that changed his life. As a recently married, prelaw and business administration graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, he began his job hunt in a big way. He mailed out a whopping 500 résumés. One résumé went to a blind ad he’d seen in the newspaper. The reply both intrigued and puzzled him. “I got a call from a lady who invited me to apply for an inside sales job,” Strandquist said. “She said the name of the company was Rockford Products. That name didn’t give me much information, so I asked for more details. She told me they make bolts and screws. I thought to myself: ‘This doesn’t really fit anything I studied in college.’ But I wanted to find out more, and I’m glad I did.” Third-Generation Company with 21st Century Ideas Strandquist was hired as an “inside sales guy” at Rockford Products. Next, he moved to outside sales, then to key accounts sales, and then he made a number of career moves within the industry. Today, Strandquist is an executive vice president for, and executive board member of, the Würth Group. The Würth Group manages 415 companies worldwide, and Strandquist oversees nine of them: six distribution companies and three manufacturing companies. In 2013, the Würth Group did 10 billion euros in sales. The Würth Group began as a family company in 1945 and has remained that way for 69 years. Bettina Würth, chairwoman of the advisory board, is the third generation of family leadership. Mrs. Würth is an enthusiastic and visionary leader for the Group. The Würth Group is much more than just a distributor of industrial fasteners. In response to customer needs, it has built an industrial product range of more than 420,000 articles, including: clamps, caps and plugs, fittings, rivets, proprietary chemical products, hand and power tools, personal protection equipment, and storage and retrieval systems. In the United States, the Würth Group did around one billion dollars in sales in 2013. Now, in the infancy of the 21st century, Strandquist said the Würth Group has great sales growth plans globally. Professor Reinhold Würth, the entrepreneur who took the Group to such lofty heights, has set a global sales goal of 20 billion euros by 2020. One of the exciting markets it looks to grow in is wind power. Windmill Revolution? Strandquist is enthusiastic about Würth’s participation in the wind industry. “In the beginning, wind power was expensive and ineffective; everything had to be produced overseas and imported into the United States,” he said. “Now, it’s a fledgling American industry, and it’s still incentivized by tax subsidies—in this case, the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which is controlled by the federal government. Unfortunately, the PTC has expired, and the industry awaits our federal government to vote on it in an election year. “Our challenge is to try to manage and grow this industry that has so much potential. A big component of that is reducing costs to manufacture. If we can do this, the industry could grow exponentially.” How Big is Wind Power? Strandquist compared current domestic windmill production to the dawn of the auto industry. “Car building was horribly expensive, and cars were available only to the wealthy before Henry Ford’s company developed assembly lines,” he said. “Then, costs went down dramatically, which made cars available to the average consumer.” Strandquist also has responsibility for the Würth Group’s Dokka Fasteners in the United States as well as Dokka Fasteners in Norway. Dokka in Norway has furnished the wind power industry with fasteners for 30 years and has manufactured bolts for 140 years. Dokka Fasteners’ Auburn Hills, Michigan, division offers fully automated robotic manufacturing, automated heat treating, and an industry-leading quality lab. With Michigan developing into an epicenter for wind energy technology and manufacturing—coupled with the exponential growth of wind farms throughout Michigan—Auburn Hills is an ideal location for the company. “The efficiency of wind power is astounding,” Strandquist said. “Wind power machines used to be able to generate about 1. 6 megawatts. Now, wind power machines are being developed that can generate 6 megawatts. That is an incredible amount of more energy coming from the same basic space. “These bigger wind machines are now less expensive to manufacture. Wind energy can be generated and dumped into the public grid, it can be utilized by small and large utilities, and even individuals can use wind energy.” This Industry’s Enduring Value “Since Archimedes invented the screw, the fastener industry has been holding the world together,” Strandquist said. “I guess you could say we’re the Rodney Dangerfield of the commodities, meaning no one thinks about how important quality and service is with a screw. After all, you can just go to Wal-Mart and buy one, right? We’re vital to virtually every industry, but we’re not something that’s thought about every day. We’re not in a high-tech industry; bolts have been manufactured since 1850. Of course, today we make them much faster—up to 400 a minute for smaller-diameter bolts.” Strandquist said he is proud to have been in this industry since college, and he noted that the industry is filled with great people who have the same sense of pride. “It is a Würth Group goal to have every customer be inspired by our quality and service,” he said. “A customer may start out buying bolts, nuts, and washers, but our Goal is to end up providing all sorts of different parts for them. And because we have fastener engineers on our staff, we can help OEM customers create more efficient designs. Agriculture, lawn and garden and construction equipment OEMs are the three biggest industries we serve, but we help many others, too.” The Future Strandquist said that the products of the future, just like the products of the past, will rely on fastening systems. He said this is a strong industry with an incredible product range and superb technology. What about the future of the Würth Group? “Our future is bright, as our path is welllit by the brilliance of our employees,” Strandquist said.
Published by American Fastener Journal. View All Articles.
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