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In Depth: Fasteners

Packaging, displays key

The optimal customer experience needs to start before the user even hits the jobsite, with smart packaging and display options that gets a buyer what they need in the store.

“We are in favor of a multi-level approach that combines quality products, marketing and in-store merchandising called ‘Dress for Success’ as well as events,” Palmer says. “High-margin products are perfect for this, because it allows the contractor customer to feel and see the value of the products.

“‘Dress for Success’ merchandising is designed to drive traffic from the parking lot to the store shelf using banners, counter mats, shelf talkers, aisle violators and merchandisers,” Palmer added.

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Huttig Building Products has been part of the building products industry for more than 130 years, but only recently began a major push into the fastener market. Last fall, the company launched its Huttig-Grip division, taking its regional fastener program nationwide. And earlier this year, the company increased those offerings by partnering with Canadian manufacturer Duchesne to distribute its nails in the United States.

“What was most intriguing to us was the superior product quality from Duchesne and their strong leadership under CEO Audrey Duchesne- Milette,” says David Fishbein, Executive Vice President of Huttig-Grip. “Like Huttig, Duchesne has a long history, over 90 years, of serving the industry. Their manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Montreal has extremely high quality standards and a very short lead time, making them a very attractive partner for us.”

One of the advantages Huttig-Grip is bringing to the market is several innovations in packaging designed to improve the experience for both endusers and dealers.

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“There are many new features and benefits that we are really excited to show our customer base, and for their customers to experience in our construction fastener program,” Fishbein says. “One key upgrade is the oversized ‘window’ on our 1 lb. and 5 lb. boxes so the customer can actually see what they are buying. Huttig-Grip fastener packaging has the largest window in this category.”

Huttig-Grip’s goal is to provide “industry best” labeling and packaging for its construction fasteners. Besides the large window, other features highlighted by Fishbein include color-coded bands based on the actual application of the fastener, application shots on the label background and true-tosize photos of the fasteners inside.

“Not only does this help the customer buying the fasteners, but, combined with the large window, reduces the number of boxes torn open and left on the shelf,” Fishbein says. Larger boxes in the product line-up also include the Huttig-Grip Handle System, in place on 50 lb. boxes of nails, all bulk boxes of screws and all 21-degree collated fastener boxes, designed to make them easier to carry.

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“However, one of the most important features for the dealers might be that Huttig-Grip 1 lb. and 5 lb. packaging is the same width, which solves the problem of resetting shelves to enhance inventory turns,” he says. “We believe this is a game-changer for dealers across the country.”

The packaging also clearly calls out via new icons the finish, head, shank and thread descriptions, addressing areas that consumers have said have been confusing in the past.

“We wanted to solve the problem of how to buy the right fastener. We wanted to make it easy for the dealers and easy for the end-user.” Fishbein explained. “We were very thoughtful in our approach as we put this program together.”

Dealers need to recognize that many customers don’t know exactly what they need, but a smart organization can get them headed in the right direction.

“I would say the first thing to do is to do a better job of merchandising the product and helping the customer…so when they walk into the store the merchandising and packaging will help them quickly narrow their search to the product they need without much additional assistance,” Wulfenstein says. “That would be my recommendation to them. A lot of times these stores are a little disorganized. They just have shelves of stuff but when the customer comes in, it’s hard for him to find out exactly what he needs.”

An educated staff

For those DIYers or weekend warriors that may not be sure what they need, education is key. And that starts with a staff that knows what it is doing.

Jim Miller, President/CEO of Screw Products Inc., says that it’s important for LBM dealers to invest in training for their team.

“The lumber yards, hardware stores …need to be able to help and educate their customers on the proper fasteners for what they’re selling,” Miller says. “If they’re selling the wood, [they] should have the education on the type of fastener that is supposed to go into that wood.”

It can be time-consuming, but making time for the staff to learn and keep up-to-date on the latest products is an important part of making the most of the fastener category.

“Everybody is wanting access to those people at the store, but the dealer should allow time for product knowledge meetings with a manufacturer or a distributor of a product, to teach their staff what it is they’re selling,” Miller says.

McFarland agrees, noting the importance of dealers becoming familiar with the products they offer.

“We continue to introduce better options for interior and exterior fasteners,” he says. “As dealers review and learn why and how they will benefit from adding these items they will see sales and margin growth.…We recommend to be more application focused than fastener focused. Match a fastener from PrimeSource with the specific project materials sold at the dealer.”

A staff that understands the benefits of a given fastener can make sure the end user makes the right choice. Otherwise, the decision often comes down to price, Hogard says. Many fastener options offer great margins when buyers opt for high-quality products.

“Once people see what a screw can do, they’re listening,” he says. “You can have a conversation. If the staff doesn’t know what the values are on the more expensive screws, they’ll say, ‘I don’t know but this one’s cheaper.’”

Beyond product knowledge, dealers need to make sure they are asking their customers the right questions when they come in looking for a fastener.

“What is the end result the customer wishes to attain?” Kabel says. “Maybe the customer doesn’t care if face screwing is used or if hidden clips are installed. We want our dealers to know the pros and cons between the two and our marketing is fashioned to drive home that hidden deck fasteners are a great choice for a smooth, family friendly and barefoot-approved surface. In any case, the dealer needs to ensure their client’s wishes are met.”

Dealers need to put themselves in the buyer’s mindset, and make sure they are meeting that customer’s needs, says McFarland.

“The best fastener for the installer is one that meets their performance expectations,” he says. “It is a balance between installed cost and fastener performance. We provide POP info that helps the builder find and understand their fastener options and the features and benefits of each.”

While every dealer has a different customer base, putting the customer first and addressing their needs is the key to a successful relationship, Mc- Farland says.

“We suggest [that dealers] consider ‘What’s in it for me?’ from their customer’s perspective. By properly addressing the WIIFM, each brand sold by the dealer will serve their specific target market,” he adds.

Internet Information

To learn more about these companies’ products, visit their websites.

Companies in bold participated in this article.






Grabber Construction Products:

GRK Fasteners:


Huttig Building Products:


Jaaco Corp.:


Maze Nails:

Midwest Fastener:


National Nail: and


Screw Products Inc.:

Simpson Strong-Tie:


Starborn Industries:

Tiger Deck:

Titan Metal Werks:

U2 Fasteners:

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