Department Spotlight Manufacturing

Customer Service and Distribution Update

Customer Service and Distribution Update for 2023

I’m very proud of our team for meeting their accuracy metric of .22% or fewer errors vs. lines shipped per month all but one of the last 19 months. Any mistakes made in our departments are very visible to the customer, and we want to ensure Fastco is viewed as competent and reliable to our customer base. They’ve done a great job the last year and a half with being accurate and thorough in their jobs, and in turn, serving our customers well. They’ve also managed to do this with the smallest crew that we have ever had in Customer Service & Distribution (CS/DS.)

Team Work and Meeting Goals

Our biggest goal as a team is to get as many shipments out by month’s end as possible. Customer Service looks for opportunities to move up orders and works with our customers to ship orders early when possible, while Distribution really pulls together at the end of each month to push out as many last-minute shipments as they possibly can to help Fastco reach its sales goals for the month.

Open Book Management as a Tool for Success

Open book management has given us all a better grasp on how we are doing as a company, and helps us to see the impact of the shipments we can make by the end of each month on our profits, which will hopefully turn those into profits that we can all share.  It helps provide motivation and gives everyone a better idea of how they can impact our sales numbers through hustling on shipments, pushing for orders to ship early, or asking to sell excess inventory when available.  The improved awareness has also made the team more mindful of looking out for little things we can do to save the company money and help the bottom line.


by Emily Bradfield, Customer Service & Distribution Team Leader

Department Spotlight Manufacturing

Improvements in Inspection: Productivity and

Productivity Improvements in Inspection

In recent months, Inspection has made great strides in improving productivity through our mini game, which started in May and ran through July. Mini games are part of playing the Great Game of Business, which Fastco has been doing for over two years. The purpose of the mini-games is to bring focus and awareness to a particular area needing improvement and to motivate and incentivize the team members involved to improve in that area.

The goal of this mini-game was to increase the department’s labor productivity and volume produced on a monthly basis, averaged over the three months. For 2023, Inspection’s labor productivity goal is 57% and our volume produced goals is 67%.  We worked hard and finished strong, beating our goal in May, June, and July.

Inspection’s Overall Goal

Productivity improvements in Inspection have helped us meet our department’s #1 goal, which is to positively impact net income and on-time delivery. With open-book management, the team has gained awareness of how each department impacts one another. In addition, it has helped us develop a line of sight to reaching our goal.

Personal and Professional Development

As we grow as a department, I’m eager to help each sort crew member meet their development and career goals, along with their personal goals. This includes goals outside of the workplace.

As Fastco continues to progress with open-book management, I hope we continue to focus on beginning with the right leadership. Having the right people in the right places is important. In addition, it is important to build a strong foundation of servant leadership for each team member. We can all be servant leaders in our areas.

by Julie Rogers, Inspection Team Leader

Department Spotlight Manufacturing

Thread Roll Update

Thread Roll Update 2023

Thread Roll Update Panoramic Photo of the Factory Floor

Thread Roll’s Improvement in Cost of Poor Quality

This year, Thread Roll’s greatest achievement has been reducing our cost of poor quality. As of the end of June, we were at about half the  COPQ as we were at this time in 2022, so this is a huge achievement. We are meeting our COPQ goal for the year and I’m really proud of my people for this. We have been emphasizing visual inspections along with parts being in spec and the team has been keeping their eyes on the parts. Our goal for 2023 is to be at less than half the COPQ that we had in 2022 and we are well on our way to meeting that goal.

Thread Roll Department West


Thread Roll Update on Productivity

Another big achievement for Thread Roll this year has been our productivity. We have even been able to incorporate additional volume from an cold header that was struggling to keep up with their thread roll volume. I have been pleased with how everyone has come together to add these parts into the mix. Receiving bonus checks as a result of our hard work has helped show the team the importance of working together and the impact of what we can accomplish. In addition, the quarterly incentive profit shares, financial education, and huddles have helped me, the Thread Roll team, and many other team members understand the financials in an eye-opening way that has motivated us to do.

by Matt Kik, Thread Roll Team Leader

Department Spotlight

Administrative Support Spotlight

Direct, In-House Administrative Support

The Finance/IT/HR department provides administrative support for the entire company. The primary function of this department is to support manufacturing by ensuring our network systems function smoothly, keeping our financials in order, and managing the employee life cycle.

The four members of the administrative support team
The four members of the administrative support team

These are functions that can be outsourced. However, having internal and direct support means quicker turnaround on tasks, less down time, and a more humanized approach to these processes.

Humans Helping Humans

I think it’s important that everyone at Fastco remembers that we are here to help you and make your jobs easier. But we are humans, too! We mess up from time to time and we don’t always have the answers, but we will always try to get them for you.

Cross-Training Improves Function

As a member of our department, I am really proud of how much cross training we have done. It makes it fairly smooth to ensure critical functions are still maintained whenever one of us needs time off. I’m also proud of how well we all get along with one another. We address any conflict right away and we don’t hold grudges.

by Kati Tap, HR Specialist

Department Spotlight Manufacturing

Fastco’s Purchasing Department

Fastco’s Purchasing Department

Fastco’s Purchasing Department’s unofficial mantra is “What we need, when we need it, and what provides the best value to Fastco.”  We do this by keeping inventory levels accurate and appropriately stocked, predicting future demand for tooling, supplies, and similar items, and finding an appropriate level of quality while negotiating the best price/value balance to sustain ongoing operations.  As the gatekeeper of the discretionary spend, this mindset has driven quantifiable savings year over year for the company, and every dollar not spent is a dollar on the bottom line!  We can’t forget our decentralized buyers either, in maintenance and accounting, who have significantly reduced cost in the Maintenance Department and office supply categories.

In-House Tooling - inserts and punches

In addition to the purchasing function, our shuttle operators’ staging of jobs for the headers and watchful eye over inventory levels keeps us ahead of the game and limit tooling related downtime to a minimum.  Our two shuttle operators (Ginny Beld & Tracy Eno) have both been the backbone of our data collection and recording over the past few years which is critically important to ID requirements, and their participation in streamlining processes and standardizing our inventory will pay dividends well into the future.

Communication is critical, not only for the Purchasing Department, but to the entire company. We encourage all departments to ask for what they need and to notice discrepancies and/or and bring them to our attention.

Overall, I am extremely appreciative of my team’s self-motivation and task management.  It’s a good feeling to know we’re all working to move the Purchasing Department in the same direction with the same goals in mind.

by Aaron Headrick, Purchasing Manager

Department Spotlight Manufacturing

Fastco’s Cold Heading Department

Fastco’s Cold Heading Department

The primary function of the cold heading process is to produce the “blanks” that are the start of the manufacturing operation at Fastco. Cold Heading is a high-pressure, high-speed progressive forming process that uses a series of dies and blows to form parts. At Fastco, our Cold Heading Department manufactures pins and rivets complete and can form the blanks for screws, bolts, and studs.

Cold Heading’s Goal

Our goal is to manufacture quality parts on time and as close to the manufacturing order quantity (or 10% over) as we can. This is critical to the company because any mistakes or missed goals (defects, late delivery, short order quantities) cause problems in downstream operations. This also has a negative financial impact on the company. Conversely, when we perform well we can positively contribute to the financial health of the company.

Pride in Our Work

Our department takes pride in what we do. That being said, Fastco’s process is a complex one. As such, it is the result of the hard work of many people in many departments. Fastco’s Cold Heading Department takes defects very seriously; scrap and cost of poor quality reduction are significant strategic priorities for our Cold Heading and Thread Rolling.

Given the progressive nature of the manufacturing process, a delay or defect in Cold Heading has significant downstream operation impact. When we recognize an issue, we do our best to correct it for future runs. We are continuously innovating process improvements to avoid defects at every level. These include regular part checks and scrap reduction huddles, among other strategies.

As a team leader, I am very proud that the cold heading team is flexible and open to new ideas. Many of our long-term employees (aka old-timers) have seen a lot of changes over the years. Each time the team is tasked to consider a new challenge, they try to embrace the change the best they can and learn from past missteps. We have learned a lot collectively about what works and what doesn’t. We are constantly trying to adapt and improve.


by Jim Wolters, Cold Heading Team Leader

Department Spotlight Manufacturing

Engineering at Fastco

Engineering at Fastco

At Fastco, Engineering’s primary role is to develop new and improve on existing processes. The team is also responsible for the following functions:

  • Process print development
  • Tooling design
  • Sample development & simulation
  • Engineering Feasibility evaluation of potential new products
  • Develop all control plans
  • Create FEMA & PPAP
  • Troubleshooting support in all production areas (RRT)
  • Direct technical support to customers
  • ECR ownership and oversight
  • CAD Document control

Critical Department

What Engineering does is critical to Fastco’s success. Engineering is the only department that

  • Develops process prints, which is essential for producing parts.
  • Develops, designs, and makes tooling prints, which is essential for tooling up a new job.
  • Creates FEMAs, PPAPs, and control plans, which is essential for process control.

The Engineering team has various primary functions that are all equally important in their own way.  This means that they have to prioritize on a daily basis, multiple times a day, what is the most important to work on for Fastco as a whole.

Team Work

While the engineers may have disagreements or have strong differing opinions on something, the team works in a cohesive manner. Once a resolution has been come to, there is no subsequent drama.  Everyone in the department will pick up the slack when someone is gone, and not blink an eye at it.  They aren’t afraid of failing, but understand it’s not okay to just not try.  The team looks forward to doing “hard” things, like difficult samples, or developing a new process.  If they took the attitude of “let’s not do that because it’s too hard to do,” Fastco would only quote weld bolts, and would squeeze ourselves out of the industry.

by Josh Symon, Engineering Manager

Department Spotlight

Sales at Fastco

Sales at Fastco

At Fastco, the Sales team doesn’t just sell parts; we perform a wide variety of tasks, from marketing & advertising, to quoting new business, to managing the sample process, to handling price increases and general customer relationship management for established customers. Managing customer relationships is a broad and ongoing job. It requires us to work closely with numerous other departments.


As a customer-centered department, Sales has a high-level of visibility at Fastco and a big impact on the company’s success. Every person in Sales has to understand how their job affects the company as a whole, looking up and downstream to see how tasks fit into the big picture. We are constantly working to improve our processes and are all very self-critical and self-sufficient workers.

Hard Work, Team Work

In 2022, our team set an aggressive goal for new business awards and we blew it out of the water. Of course, it wasn’t just the Sales team that made this happen. Engineering, Customer Service, Manufacturing, Finance, and Purchasing all work to help Fastco win new work to varying degrees. And certainly, winning work and keeping customers happy depends  on the work of every single team member at Fastco.

That being said, Sales should be given a lot of credit for the ongoing success in new business awards. It speaks to a highly motivated team who doggedly pursues new work and does our best to keep our customer’s coming back for more parts.

Interested in learning more about what Fastco does and how our sales team can help you? Request a quote from us or give us call at 616-453-5428.

Department Spotlight Manufacturing

Thread Rolling Team at Fastco

The Thread Rolling Team at Fastco is responsible for rolling threads, knurls, and/or fetters onto cold headed blanks.


What is Thread Rolling?

The threads form when dies press against cold headed blanks. The same process is used for knurling.

Thread rolling is the most efficient and cost effective for large production runs, since machine run rates are around one piece per second. Benefits of the rolling threads include:

  • No fine metal chips.
  • Material savings of 15-20% in the blank by weight.
  • Stronger, more accurate threads

MAThread® Supplier

Fastco is a licensed supplier of MAThread® and MATpoint®, so we can produce the following MAThread fasteners:

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


Rolling SEMS Parts

In addition, Fastco has a dedicated SEMS unit, enabling us to assemble SEMS bolt/washers. SEMS fasteners are pre-assembled washer/bolt combinations that are fast and easy to handle and fit into larger assemblies.

Our Thread Rolling Team

Made up of a combination of new and experienced team members, Fastco’s Thread Rolling team works hard to improve and problem solve solutions for customers. Currently, they are working hard on scrap reduction initiatives to improve profitability and reduce waste. As more of our junior members gain knowledge and experience, we look forward to seeing the torch pass to the next generation of manufacturing professionals.

Department Spotlight

Production Control

Production Control at Fastco

The Production Control department’s primary role is to move product. Whether it is keeping the cold heading department supplied with raw material, moving bins of product to the next step, or taking product to and from the outside processors, our team makes it happen. Every team member in the Production Control (PC) department contributes to the company’s goals and helps get every dollar of sales out the door every month.

Not everything is controllable

While our job is to control product, many key factors that impact production are outside of the control of PC team members. The material handler cannot bring material to the header if we do not have it here. The truck drivers cannot bring product back in if it is not completed at the outside processor. Raw material, especially, has been a challenge for the last couple years. The PC department, like Fastco and many other companies, is at the mercy of the industry.

Production Control Fastco Semi-Truck

Controlling what we can

Despite this, the PC department works hard to improve the things they can control. I am proud that each member of the PC department knows their job and how to do it. The team members are always willing to help each other out. They do a lot behind the scenes of manufacturing that may not get the recognition it deserves.

Fastco is grateful for all the work put in by team members in the PC department, from the material handlers and parts washer to the truck drivers and the logistics support staff.


by Phil Kowalczyk, Logistics Manager