Manufactured Quality

Written by Jessica Ferlaino

TruFast is a well-known and highly-regarded brand of fastener for the commercial roofing and structural insulated panel markets. TruFast provides consistent quality, industry-leading products and world-class customer service.
Since 1981, TruFast has been in pursuit of setting the industry standard as it made better-performing commercial roofing fasteners for low slope roofing systems. Over time, it expanded its product range beyond commercial roofing fasteners and accessories to include engineered fastening solutions for attaching structural insulated panels and nail base panels, log home and timber frame construction and foundry screws.

TruFast products are manufactured by Altenloh, Brinck & Co (ABC) Group and are completely made in the United States. Production occurs at the company’s 250,000 square foot ISO 9001:2008 certified manufacturing space in Bryan, Ohio.

“Our whole focus is on vertical integration within the fastener manufacturing process,” explained President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Roth. “It’s one thing to form the fasteners on a machine but the art of our business gets into heat treating and so on, so we’ve grown our internal heat treating side. We continue to look at more ways to add value to our products and process by making those investments.”

TruFast products are distributed throughout North America as well as some parts of Western Europe by roofing and building material dealers. Products are sold under the TruFast brand as well as under private labels for other industry leading companies. TruFast also serves as a national distributor of Dow adhesives and sealants.

“Our growth was simply because the markets that we served at the time, principally the roofing markets, were pretty good. Those markets were growing, and we grew along with the market. It wasn’t until we were bought out by ABC out of Germany and we brought the Spax® brand here and developed that into a strong retail set, that has been the biggest part of our growth,” Roth said.

ABC or Altenloh, Brinck & Co is the manufacturer of Germany’s Spax® brand of construction fasteners which are sold through US home improvement centers like Home Depot and Menards. The Spax® brand has experienced great success in the US market and has expanded its product line to include a structural line of fasteners.

TruFast’s applied ABC’s technology to the US market, and the investment in equipment and capabilities has resulted in the company experiencing new levels of growth annually. According to the company’s website, it has invested $15 million in upgrades to its manufacturing facility and equipment over the past five years.

This investment permits sustainable growth while maintaining an expected standard of quality. In 2011, investments effectively allowed TruFast to double its fastener manufacturing capacity.

This year, TruFast is expected to manufacture 1.2 billion fasteners. These fasteners will find their way to market via strategically located distribution warehouses in Bryan, Ohio; Fort Worth, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; St. Paul, Minnesota and Ontario, California.

The company has re-engineered the commercial roofing fastener with its tapered wedge entry which gives superior back-out resistance. It was the first company to produce self-drilling and tapping screws for all gauges of steel roof decks and set the industry standard for this innovation.

TruFast was also the first to create stainless steel commercial roofing fasteners and coated polymer painted products for increased corrosion resistance for commercial roofing. It pioneered pre-assembled screws and plates with stand-up tools that decrease installation costs by up to forty percent while bettering job ergonomics.

“The vast majority of our fasteners are either code approved, building code approved or approval body depending on the industry that we are selling into. So they are highly-engineered fasteners,” Roth said. The company’s manufacturing has extensive quality control protocols which lead to the output of products of the highest quality.

“It’s not just manufacturing a screw,” Roth stated. “Most of the quality testing that we do on most of these products are very substantial for every lot, for every fastener made.” By having control over all aspects of manufacture, it maintains quality output, whether it is the first screw or the 1.2 billionth screw.

For TruFast, quality is planned into the very products, not judged upon inspection afterward. “When we control all the processes, we can control our quality in the manufacturing process,” Roth noted. “We have hundreds of quality checks throughout the entire process. It assures a quality product, and that’s why it’s manufactured into our processes as opposed to inspected.”

“Depending on the application, some parts are neutral hardened for instance, on a heat-treat spec. Other parts have a softer core and a harder surface so they can drill into steel. So it depends on the application, but every fastener is engineered and manufactured for a specific purpose.”

Products begin as a coil of wire which is drawn down to the required diameter, to form the fastener in accordance with engineering and manufacturing specifications. “We’ll do 1.2 billion fasteners this year, so it’s a 24/7 operation. It’s one thing to make a part, form a part. Do a specification, holding those required specs throughout the process is the real challenge,” Roth said.

The company is always developing new products and enhancing existing ones. TruFast is willing to take on its customers’ fastening challenges and developing unique solutions to specific problems. “Our customers just love our product. Our structural fasteners are highly-engineered for high wind and seismic areas that are prone to earthquakes so that they can survive severe weather events. We make every fastener as if it’s going to go through hell,” Roth joked.

The company’s success has been built upon lasting relationships. Though these relationships, it has become a respected industry leader, community contributor and valued employer.

TruFast brings in a daily morning crew of workers who have various disabilities to help in the packaging area as part of the outreach and inclusive work culture. “It’s a true joy to work with them,” Roth shared. “They are our most excited, most loyal and most dedicated employees, and it’s just an absolutely wonderful feeling to interact with these folks.”

“We put a tremendous amount of emphasis on volunteer and community activities. We commit thousands of hours to the local communities that we live and serve in. I think that sense of commitment permeates not only through our senior management group but right on down.” TruFast will support any charitable event or community initiative brought forward by its employees. “If it’s important to you, it’s important to us,” Roth said. This helps to form a stronger sense of community.

“We have put a tremendous amount of time, energy and effort into the training process so that we cannot rely on any institution to train our people. That’s not a knock on higher education; it just speaks to the uniqueness of what we do here and that no one can come out of any type of training program and be qualified to run our machines.”

Roth believes that hiring and developing people is the most important function that he and the senior management team play. “Our machines are very expensive technology and we don’t want people practicing on our machines. We want them to run the machines when they are capable. We put a great deal of money into a training program that continues to evolve.”

Senior management meets with each of its employees at least once a year to keep lines of communication open. “Once we get people, get them here and get them into the culture, we keep them.” Employees are offered incentive compensation plans, 401K contributions, and other ways that give them the opportunity to have a secure financial future.

Roth looks forward to the annual employee Christmas party. Gifts are handed out, and the sense of community is reinforced further. “Just the true joy on the faces of those associates makes it my favorite day of the year.”

TruFast is expecting to double sales over the next several years as the national construction market strengthens. This will be achieved through ongoing investment in manufacturing equipment and secondary processing equipment, such as heat treating and coating equipment.

“Part of our challenge right now: I need to know what my 2017 and 2018 volume is going to be, because it takes me twelve to fourteen months to get equipment in here. So, we’re always looking out two to three years so that we can assure ourselves that we have equipment coming in to satisfy requirements. That’s where the focus has to be.”

Since TruFast has full control over manufacturing, its fasteners set the industry standard for quality. It is no wonder that the company will produce 1.2 billion fasteners this year alone! “We make 1.2 billion fasteners, but I don’t own a drill,” Roth quipped, choosing to leave construction to the professionals who choose TruFast quality fasteners to get the job done.



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