About Fastco

Building an Engaged Workforce


What is an Engaged Workforce?

What do we mean by an “engaged workforce?” You might not know the definition, but you can probably picture someone on your team that embodies the company’s values and purpose in everything they do. An engaged employee is one who is committed to their organization’s culture and mission as well as to their team. They work with enthusiasm, always looking to improve on the status quo.

At Fastco, we are always striving to meet customer expectations through continuous innovation.


Benefits of an Engaged Workforce

Truly engaged employees can deliver many benefits to the company itself as well as the customers they serve, including:

  • Increased productivity and efficiency
  • Improved quality of products
  • Better customer service
  • Reduced waste and fewer errors
  • Increased innovation

Leaders within companies want an engaged workforce. Customers want to work with companies that have an engaged employees, as this improves the customer service and quality experience. So how do you foster engagement?

A collage of photos from Fastco’s Great Game of Business Launch


The Great Game of Business as an Engagement Tool

At Fastco, we follow the Great Game of Business strategy for developing an engaged workforce via five key points:

  1. Transparency: This includes open-book management, but also involves giving employees a clear line of sight as to how they can affect the bottom line.
  2. Future Focus: We forecast every month where we think we will be as a means of affecting changes and improving outcomes.
  3. Financial Literacy: Our employees are taught basic financial literacy so that they can understand how the company is doing. This knowledge helps break down barriers between managers and staff and between departments.
  4. Open Communication: We openly discuss obstacles, innovations, successes, and struggles within our company to create an atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork.
  5. Recognition: We applaud the efforts and achievements of individuals and teams. This goes a long way in creating a workforce that feels valued and important.

Fastco’s quality policy is striving to meet customer expectations through continuous innovation. We believe that the only way to continuously innovate and meet our customer expectations is through an engaged and productive workforce.

About Fastco Manufacturing

Simple, Data-Driven Solutions

Sometimes, there can be a relatively cheap and simple solution to what seems like an expensive and difficult problem.

One of Fastco’s cold heading machines was having ongoing issue with the transfer block. A maintenance request was put in and it wasn’t immediately clear that there were large problems with the block itself. Replacing it would have cost about $20,000. Process Engineer Nick Steimel came up with a test to validate the problem with data. He used a torque wrench on one of the bolts that swings the transfer fingers open. There was a significant drop in the pressure of one machine vs. others. Lack of holding pressure when transferring can lead to dropped progressions, forming and quality issues, and downtime for tool repair.

Nick worked with Brandon Schell (Machine Repair) and determined the root cause. Air assist pistons on the transfer block increase the finger pressure. However, there are sleeves inside the pistons that had fallen out due to wear. The air assist pistons had stopped working and all the pressure was coming from the springs only.


Close-up of the tapped-in screw holding down the sleeve for the air assist pistons on the transfer block.

They came up with the idea of drilling & tapping a set screw below the sleeve on the transfer block to retain it. This improved the pressure by more than three times at minimal cost.

As you can see, when teams come together to collaborate, it often yields better results. In this case, engineering and maintenance team members working together solved an ongoing problem quickly, cheaply, and effectively.

About Fastco Manufacturing

The Process of Cold Heading Manufacturing


The Process of Cold Heading Manufacturing

What does the process of producing cold headed fasteners look like? And how does raw material become a fastener? This infographic outlines the process of cold heading manufacturing in 7 steps.

Cold Heading Process Description
Learn more on our LinkedIn page.

Step 1: Raw Material

First, we establish the rod size and material type based on print and progression.

Step 2: Tooling Created and Designed

Fastco’s engineering team makes prints and designs tooling. Then, our tool room builds the tools and purchasing orders anything we can’t make in-house.

Step 3: Cold Heading

A Cold Heading Setup Tech sets up the job on the machine. The machine forms parts via a series of high-speed, high-pressure punches and blows.

Step 4: Thread Roll

The Thread Roll machine rolls the cold headed blanks between two dies to form threads, knurls, or fetters. In addition to thread rolling, some parts may bet secondary machining on one of our 3 pointers. 

Step 5: Outside Processing

This step could include Heat Treatment, Plating, Patch, or Outside Secondary Machining. Fastco has an in-house wash to clean parts as well.

Step 6: Inspection / Sort

Next, parts are received in and sorted for quality assurance. Then, our inspection team packages the parts for shipment.

Step 7: Store and Ship

Boxed parts are stored in our distribution building. Fastco ships these parts to customers per purchase order agreements.

About Fastco

Core Values – Why do they Matter?

Why Do Core Values Matter?

Core values are the fundamental beliefs and priorities that drive team members’ and the organization’s behaviors. Core values act as internal compass of principles that guide decision making.

But why do they matter? At Fastco, we manufacture cold-headed fasteners; that is what we do. We hope to make a profit doing it. Is that why we do it? It is certain a piece of it, but it can’t be the only reason.

Core Values Reflect a Shared Purpose

In order to fully appreciate what we do, we need to know why we do it. And it has to be about more than money. Money matters. It’s how we feed, house, and cloth ourselves and our families. It stabilizes our lives. But it does not create happiness nor add meaning to a life or a company.

A company’s values should work to align a company around a shared purpose. That is, the why behind what they do. Fastco’s shared purpose is to create value and stability for our customers, team members, and community. It’s why we exist as an organization.

Our core values are the guiding principles that help us achieve our shared purpose. Fastco’s core values are:

  1. Respects and helps all team members excel
  2. Completes tasks with enthusiasm
  3. Sweats the details
  4. Gives honest feedback, but follows the company’s directive
  5. Puts the interest of the company first
Fastco’s Shared Purpose



Every company needs to decide what its purpose is and what values its members will need to achieve that purpose. Ideally, this is done with company-wide buy-in. These values then serve as a metric against which to assess performance and to evaluate potential candidates.

Values Come From Teams, Not Managers

As a company evolves, their values may shift, since values are not necessarily imposed by management but discovered through the habits and behaviors of ideal team members. Over time, values may become better defined. The organization may choose to eliminate some values or replace them with others that better suit the culture and goals of the organization.

In the end, the main thing is to know who you are as a company and why you what you do. This is just as, if not more, important than what you do and how you do it.


About Fastco

Sustainability in Manufacturing

Sustainability in Manufacturing at Fastco

As the climate crisis continues, we will all be pressed to come up with innovative ways to reduce our waste and our carbon footprint. From governments to corporations to individuals, there is lots of room for improvement, specifically in the area of sustainability.

While every company needs to look closely at their business practices to come up with ways to increase sustainability (and, more than likely, reduce expenditures as well), we wanted to highlight some recent improvements that our company has made to make our practices more environmentally sustainable and to reduce costs at the same time.

Scrap Reduction

Scrap bins with minimal scrap for sustainability.
A scrap tub with minimal scrap

This one may seem obvious, but it’s not easy! We have a goal to reduce our scrap by 25% this year. While the majority of our metal scrap is recycled, it is better to just not waste it at all, from a cost and sustainability standpoint.

In addition to reducing our carbon footprint and wasting material, our company can save tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars per year by reducing our scrap. We make this happen with frequent and thorough part checks on machines to avoid cost of poor quality scrap. It is also a matter of paying attention, watching machines, and being intentional when setting up parts and running them.

As a rule, cold heading is a low-scrap process compared to processes like stamping or machining. This is makes it a more cost-effective and sustainable means of fastener production.

Reusing Oil

We’ve got some really innovative team members and one recently suggested that we buy an air pump to add to oil totes in order to recycle cold heading oil for use in thread roll. Reusing the oil not only saves the company money by purchasing less oil and paying less to haul it away as often, but it is also better for the environment.

Sustainability: Recycled Oil in a Tote
Recycled Oil


Timers and LED lighting

Over the last few years, we have been working to replace our old lighting with more efficient LED lights. In addition, many of those lights that are public areas are now on motion sensors to reduce usage.

Recently, one of our preventive maintenance technicians noticed that parts cleaners throughout the facility were always left on. He suggested adding timers to them as well to shut them off automatically when they are not in use.


What sustainable practices has your company put into place? Where do you see manufacturing continue to make sustainability improvements in the years to come?

About Fastco Manufacturing

Sample Runs: Delivering Fasteners Fast

Sample Runs at Fastco

At Fastco, we deliver fasteners fast. Our sample lead times are industry-leading, due to our in-house tooling capabilities, engineering and cold heading expertise, and responsive customer service. In 2022, Fastco was awarded 65 new sample jobs. A few of these are pictured below.

APQP before Sample Runs

Every new part at Fastco goes through the APQP (Advance Product Quality Planning) process to ensure that we have a plan in place for design, development, and production of the part. An APQP is a requirement of the automotive industry. We use our background in quality management provided by our heavy involvement in the automotive industry to ensure that we provide top-quality to all customers, regardless of their industry.

The Sample Run Process Flow

Once a job is kicked off, our engineers will design the tooling and our sample tool room will create. This process typically takes about 3-4 weeks for a more standard part for which we can make all tooling in house. Ordering outside tooling can add up to another 8 weeks to the process. This is why one of our strategic priorities is to increase the capabilities of our tool room so that we can make as much tooling as possible in-house, delivering on our brand promise of rapid lead times.

After the tooling is made, parts will go into sample production. This is where a lot of the “bugs” get worked out. Cold heading is not a simple process. There is a lot of expertise involved in setting up the machines and getting them to produce parts to print. Each part presents its own unique challenges.

After parts run through cold heading, they may go on to wash or thread rolling, followed by outside processing. This includes processes such as heat treatment, plating, or patching. After that, we bring the parts back in-house for sorting in our state-of-the-art inspection department. There, parts are inspected for defects and/or mixed parts from outside processing. Finally, parts get boxed up and sent to our distribution center for shipping.

Quality Assurance

Throughout the process, we inspect and monitor parts for quality assurance. Team members perform extra part checks throughout the sample process to ensure that the parts we make meet all customer requirements.

About Fastco Manufacturing

Fastener Features – MAThread® and MATpoint®

Fastener Features – MAThread® and MATpoint®

Fastco is MAThread® and MATpoint® licensed. These patented thread types are heavily relied upon in automotive applications because they eliminate seizing and jamming of fasteners with anti-cross thread technology. This is especially beneficial for difficult, high-volume assemblies, reducing cost by eliminating the need for expensive reworks caused by cross or false threading.

Many automotive OEMs consider MAThread® to be the standard for externally threaded fasteners. These include GM, Ford, Chrysler, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, and VW.

Fastco can manufacture all of the following types of MAThread® Fasteners:

6 different MAThread types of thread rolling
Visit for more information.



The most common design, MATpoint works effectively in most applications, except for when prying heavy components into place during an installation.

Very Short MAThread

As indicated by the description, this design has a very short end point. Therefore, this design works best for applications with problematic point clearance and limited angular misalignment.

Dog Point MAThread

Dog Point MAThread performs best on any difficult application or when prying heavy components into place during installation.

“P” Point MAThread

This design works best with difficult applications when the point clearance will not be an issue. In addition, it works well with thick stack-ups of multiple components.


If packing length and/or weight is a concern, this is the thread to use. It is effective up to and including 12 degrees misalignment.

Custom MAThread

MAThread can customize design criteria for special applications.

Custom MAThread - MATpoint with special dog
As an example of “custom,” here is a MATpoint design with a special dog.


Key Features of MAThread® and MATpoint®

Key fastener features of MAThread® and MATpoint® include:

  • Self-correcting: This makes thread damage or seizing impossible.
  • Easy-to-use: This allows any installer to use them without fear of fastener or part damage
  • Customizable: MAThread can meet customer’s specific needs.
  • Always improving: The design is regularly reviewed and made better.


In addition to automotive, MAThread® design can be used in a wide variety of industries, including construction, heavy equipment, motorcycles & recreation vehicles, and water craft.

About Fastco Manufacturing

Our In-House Tooling Capabilities

For the last decade, Fastco has worked to increase our in-house tooling capabilities. From making less than a quarter of our tooling in-house, we’ve expanded to making about 80% of our tooling within our three onsite tool rooms.

Making our own tooling allows us to save money and time; we can make a tool set in less than half the time it would take to purchase one. This means we can pivot quickly on design changes and get prototypes out the door quickly.



In-House Tooling Improvements

In recent years, we have made some significant investments in our tooling equipment, including:

  1. A Sodick VZ300L Wire EDM machine, which opened up our capabilities with shaped inserts and trims.

    Sodick Wire EDM - to manufacture tooling in-house
    Fastco’s Sodick Wire EDM
  2. Our CNC Mills (including a Haas VF2 CNC Mill and a Haas CNC Mini Mill), which we use to make our own knurl dies in-house.
  3. A Haas TL1CNC Lathe, which has expanded our forming of steel solid pockets and punch inserts.
  4. A Weldon CNC ID Grinding Machine, which reduced costs for some of our most expensive tooling (pocketed and tri-lobular inserts). Most importantly, its high level of precision allows us to get an exemplary surface finish, improving the performance of these tools.

    Weldon CNC ID Grinder - for manufacturing in-house tooling
    Weldon CNC ID Grinding Machine
  5. A laser marking system, which allows us to make all marking tooling in house at a near-zero consumables cost.



Why In-House Tooling?

Manufacturers that make their own tooling provide a huge value benefit to customers for the following reasons:

  1. Decreased Lead Time: The current lead times for most purchased tooling is upwards of 8 weeks. We can make our tooling in less than half that time. If a design change happens, we work on the fly to change out the tool sets. If there is an out-of-stock scenario, we won’t need to short orders while we wait for tooling; we also won’t need to set up the machine again, adding wasted cost. If a customer needs prototype parts in less than 8 weeks, we can typically make that happen.
  2. Improved Control Over Quality: Making our own tooling allows us to produce better parts. Our tooling produces a superior finish on parts with tighter tolerances and a better total indicator reading (TIR). If we struggle with forming a part on a machine, we can  make tooling adjustments to improve the quality of the part.
  3. Lower Cost of Tooling: Not having to order tooling cuts down on freight costs. Making our tooling reduces costs associated with unnecessary downtime. It also reduces the need for extra outside processing trips and unnecessary extra setups.



Fastco’s Tooling Equipment

Fastco has a wide-range of tooling manufacturing equipment, including:

  • Manual ID, OD, and Surface Grinders
  • CNC ID & OD Grinders
  • Honing equipment
  • CNC Lathe, as well as manual and speed lathes
  • CNC Mills and manual mills
  •  Blanchard
  • Laser Etcher

These machines give Fastco the ability to grind, engrave, turn, mill, drill, and hone our tooling. In addition, we have a wide-range of inspection equipment, including a CMM, comparator, and Keyence, along with micrometers, calipers, and gage pins. We also have a manual arbor press and a hydraulic press for toolset assembly.

tooling made in-house

Content for this article was contributed by several key personnel at Fastco who have driven this shift and overseen it over the last several years. Thank you to Nate Barger (Tool Room Team Leader), Aaron Headrick (Purchasing Manager), and Tom Fredricks (Assistant Tool Room Team Leader). 


About Fastco

Who We Are at Fastco Industries

The origins of Fastco

Like many entrepreneurs, Fastco’s founders Stephen Frantz and Arvin Tap had a vision. They were not just going to buy, refurbish, and sell machine equipment; they were building financial stability for their families and providing a service to their community. With goals forged in hard work and innovation, it was easy to shift their focus after buying their first cold forming machine. When they couldn’t sell the equipment, they began using it to manufacture specialty fasteners.

While Fastco has changed its purpose, name (formerly Fast Machine), and location, moving from the south side of Grand Rapids to Walker, Michigan, we are still rooted in that original vision of continuous innovation. Our longevity as a company is the result of our ability to weather storms (including a particularly devastating derecho in 1998 that destroyed one of our buildings) and adapt to the demands of the times.

Fastco plant
Aerial view of the our main building from the 1970s.


Arvin Tap
Arvin Tap (co-founder)
Steve Frantz
Steve Frantz (co-founder)
Growing through the years

Historically, Fastco has primarily been an automotive industry supplier. We evolved our quality standards to meet rising automotive quality demands in the 1990s, investing in process monitors for all of our cold formers and thread rollers. To meet automotive customers’ requirements of zero defects, Fastco invested in electronic inspection systems. We also invested in the human power to run these machines and to visually and roller sort parts. Today, parts inspection is a key part of our process for automotive suppliers.

After surviving the Great Recession, we hoped we had seen the last of financial crises for at least another generation. Still, we anticipated curve balls coming our way. We continued to improve and innovate. During this time, we grew our in-house tooling department, which now manufactures approximately 80% of our tooling. This enabled us to shorten our sample lead times and rapidly meet customer needs.

Fastco also began to see a need to move outside of the automotive industry and diversify our customer base. We expanded our work into the construction sector. Now, we are actively seeking out non-automotive suppliers in the furniture, industrial equipment, and energy industries.

Fastco Today

When the pandemic arrived, Fastco went into survival mode, like so many companies and individuals. We furloughed some, sent others home to work, and soldiered on with a bare bones, hardworking crew. As soon as the tides began to turn with the pandemic, the chip shortage arrived. Our automotive customers pulled or reduced their orders.

It was clear that diversifying our customer base was not just an abstract, distant-future goal. It was a real, here-and-now need.

In 2021, we brought in over 3 million in new business awards, 47% of which was in non-automotive industries. So far this year, 75% of the over 1 million in new business we have been awarded is non-automotive.

We may have come far from our original business concept, but we are still a visionary company, willing to do what it takes for our customers, our suppliers, and our employees. We are fastener experts, ready to bring our knowledge, skills, and hard work to the people and companies that need it. The future is full of uncertainty, but one thing is clear: we are ready for it.