We’ve always known about FastenMaster here at Frame Building News, but our attention was elevated in the past year when we saw a particular product called the TrussBRACE. It helps set trusses faster and more accurately than you could before.
That led to us asking the company about its other new products, and led to this interview with Web Shaffer, Senior Vice President and General Manager of FastenMaster, which is a division of OMG, Inc.
Summarize your company history
FastenMaster is a division of OMG, Inc., which was established in 1981 by Art and Esther Jacobsen, who named the company Olympic Fasteners Inc., and bought and sold screws for the commercial roofing industry. In 1984, after experiencing great success, it began manufacturing its own line of fasteners in Agawam, Massachusetts.
In 1993, the company became Olympic Manufacturing Group, and later in the 1990s it was renamed simply as OMG.
Today, OMG, a wholly owned subsidiary of Steel Partners Holdings L.P. (NYSE: SPLP), is a leading manufacturer and global supplier of fasteners, products and technology for residential construction and commercial roofing applications. The company currently employs nearly 650 employees globally and is one of the largest employers in Western Massachusetts.
In addition to its Agawam-based operations, OMG has manufacturing plants in Addison, Illinois, and in Rockford, Minnesota, and a global sales force of over 100 in North America, Europe, and Asia. The company produces more than 1.5 billion fasteners and plates per year to support its two operating divisions — OMG Roofing Products and FastenMaster.
FastenMaster differentiates itself from the competition by continually soliciting contractor feedback, and then developing highly engineered solutions that help improve installation productivity while delivering a premium finish. Through this process, they have revolutionized the industry with several breakthrough products, including: the LOK Line of structural wood fasteners, the FrameFAST Structural Framing System for making critical connections along the continuous load path, Cortex hidden fastening systems for deck and trim, Tiger Claw hidden deck clip system, and the PAMFast AutoFeed screw system.
What products and services do you provide?
FastenMaster manufactures task-specific fasteners and tools for a wide range of residential fastening applications. The company is committed to offering professional contractors fastening solutions that improve jobsite safety and increase productivity. The overriding philosophy is to develop products that make various types of construction connections faster, stronger, easier, and safer, and in so doing, everyone wins.
FastenMaster products provide installation benefits to remodelers, residential framers, home builders and professional deck builders. Its products are widely used in residential wood framing, interior remodeling, new construction and decking projects.
FastenMaster’s brands include:
- TimberLOK: The industry’s first wood-to-wood structural fastener;
- FlatLOK: The first fastener designed to connect up to four-LVL plies into a structural beam;
- TrussBRACE: The industry’s first truss bracing solution that includes both lateral and diagonal support in one connection;
- FrameFAST: A structural framing system with three interchangeable heads that uses one screw to provide code-compliant connections as a replacement for standard hurricane ties, clips and straps;
- NLB: The first non-load bearing fastener for securing the top of non-load bearing walls to trusses and joists above;
- ThruLOK: The first fastener to eliminate through-bolts by using a unique self-tightening nut to make connections in a fraction of the time.
What is your current territory?
FastenMaster products can be found throughout North America at thousands of lumberyards and major home centers such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menards, all supported by a large direct field sales team.
What is the current business climate in your area?
Most of the COVID-related supply chain and labor shortage issues have been resolved and OMG’s manufacturing operations are largely back to normal. In regard to the end markets where we sell FastenMaster products, business has been very strong throughout 2023. In new residential construction, high interest rates have, surprisingly, not depressed the market for new homes.
This is because high demand for housing has run up against a historically low inventory of existing homes for sale as current homeowners stay put due to their low mortgage rates. Therefore, the high demand for housing combined with home builders’ willingness to help buyers with favorable financing options explains why new housing construction has been so strong, particularly for first-time home buyers.
FastenMaster’s other big market is home repair and remodeling, where demand has remained very strong for all of 2023. Many factors are driving remodeling growth, including record-high homeowner equity and low mortgage payments which encourage homeowners to improve their homes rather upgrading to a different home. FastenMaster is well positioned to capitalize on this remodeling market growth with our wide range of fastener products.
What is your primary customer base?
Our primary focus is on residential contractors, framers, custom home builders, and deck builders.
How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
FastenMaster differentiates itself by developing innovative products that address contractor challenges and support the PRO community with a large field team. We continually solicit contractor feedback, and then develop highly engineered solutions that help improve installation productivity while delivering a premium finish.
By actively listening to our PROs, FastenMaster has helped contractors achieve great success by offering them the very best solutions on the market. Developing productivity solutions through innovation has been our north star during the past 25 years and we expect to deliver even more new and innovative solutions to the market in the next 25 years.
Tell us the challenges the company has overcome, and how did you do that?
Based on the innovation we bring to market, we’ve been able to convert contractors to new ways of building, and to using screws where traditional nails and plates or straps were used, and we’ve demonstrated the clear productivity and performance advantages that FastenMaster solutions such as TrussBRACE, FrameFAST, Tiger Claw, LOKs, and Cortex can provide.
COVID also provided a host of challenges to contractors and to FastenMaster. Despite the shutdowns, our team worked overtime to provide screws to the support the construction boom and we continued to develop new products that help to drive contractor productivity, including our MVP Fastener and EVO Joist to Ledger Deck Framing Connector.
Similarly, to what do you owe the success of your business?
OMG and FastenMaster are focused on continuous improvement where we encourage every employee to think about what could be. What is a better way? How do I improve efficiency? Can I work safer? Can I work faster? The goal is to get everyone to understand the principles of driving the waste out of everything the company does. There’s always an alternative, and we must pursue that to stay competitive and stay out in front.
What would you tell yourself five years ago if you could?
Be prepared for unprecedented changes in how you conduct business. Labor shortages, supply chain disruption, and high inflation all made making and selling screws more complicated. Because we make most of our screws in the U.S., we were in a good position to adjust our business to meet the various challenges we faced.
What is your advice to somebody who is brand new in your line of business?
Be prepared for a dynamic and challenging environment! Customers place a premium on suppliers who can deliver value to their business. So, you must remain laser-focused on this if you want to win.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities in the coming months? Coming years?
Labor shortages are a permanent fact of life in construction so developing products that deliver productivity gains is crucial. Climate change will also drive building code changes which provides another opportunity for innovation.
Where do you see the biggest challenges in the coming months and years?
The biggest challenges have to do with managing:
- Rapid shifts in demand,
- Supply chain disruption,
- Shifting distribution (channel consolidation),
- Cost in the face of inflationary pressure.
What are the things that you would love to learn more about?
How the building material industry is changing to address climate change. This includes new types of material (like aerated concrete), engineered wood/mass timber, 3-D printed houses and increases to the recycled content in building materials. Exciting stuff.
What are your Three Keys to Good Business (three things to which you attribute your success).
- Safety First.
- Developing our people.
- Focusing on continual improvement.
What are your business goals for the future?
FastenMaster will continue to develop and launch innovative products that change and improve the way PROs do their jobs. We have built our reputation on this and we will continue to find new, better, and safer methods for building. FBN
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