Experienced industry stalwarts Vic Waddison and Allan Stennett have over 75 years of combined industry experience and a number of successful businesses in their shared history. Four years ago, the duo embarked on a new venture – Victory Fasteners – a company which has since carved out an enviable reputation in its short lifetime and seen expansion at its Wolverhampton headquarters. Torque Magazine speaks with Vic Waddison:
Business is very good. As we are all aware these are difficult times and we are working with our customer base to ensure we have the correct product in depth and range at a competitive price which satisfies their requirements. We are consistently trying to develop our stock range adding longer lengths, bigger diameters and more fine and extra fine threads.
What year was Victory Fasteners established?
The business was formed in 2013. At the time, there were three to four major distributors within the UK which had been trading for many years and held a large amount of the market share. Therefore, bringing a new fastener distributor into an already competitive market would be difficult. However, we were confident that our range of high grade alloy fasteners combined with having a stock range which is 95% European, and we have quickly built a reputation supporting our distribution customer base, both within the UK and Europe.
Despite the company being relatively new, the founders have decades of experience in the industry. Can you give us a brief history?
Allan Stennett and myself were the original founders of Icon Fasteners Limited and having taken the company to a commanding position within its market, the company was sold to the Hexstone group in 2014. We joined forces again with myself appointed as MD of the company Triplefast International. Amidst exciting times within the Oil and Gas markets we took the company to an impressive turnover of £8 million.
Since its launch, the company has expanded – how big are the premises now? And are you considering expansion in the near future?
We currently occupy 10,000 sq ft spread over two units based on Dunstall Hill Trading Estate, located in the heart of Wolverhampton. Initially, Victory Fasteners leased just half this space whilst the company was developing as it gave us the right amount of storage, racking and daily picking positions to kickstart Victory Fasteners in to the trade. We soon outgrew these premises and acquired the adjacent unit, not only providing space for additional racking but also the integration of a fully operational machine shop. The additional space meant we could put our expansion plans into practice and continue to grow as a company.
How many staff did you start with and how many have you now got working at Victory Fasteners?
The company was opened in 2013 with just four members of staff. Now, four years on, we are a versatile and experienced team of 17, with an expected £2 million turnover for 2017. Hard work and ambition have succeeded in driving the company forward, allowing us to develop in all areas including quality, purchasing, sales and manufacturing which have put us in the position we are today.
What has the introduction of the in-house machine shop meant to the company and to what you can offer your customers?
This was integral for us as a company, having a great range of semi-finished products so it was important for us to create a structure that would give us every opportunity to control the quality and react to any urgent delivery situations. This enabled Victory Fasteners to fully develop its own machine shop adding another dimension for its customer base.
In what key ways does Victory Fasteners differentiate itself from the competition?
We believe that as a smaller company, we have the ability to offer a more bespoke service to our customers. We are a friendly and informed team, working hard to meet our customers’ expectations offering a 95% European product and the ability to machine on-site.
As a company we have tried to find our niche, which I have to admit is difficult when there are some already excellent companies out there doing exactly what we do.
Although we stock in depth the standard ranges of 10.9/12.9 which have to be competitive, we try to stock hold the non preferred, the slightly unusual, bigger, longer, fine, extra fine and in grades 10.9 / 12.9 /B7/L7, and we are what we say we are: small, flexible, easy to use, distributer-loyal independent fastener company for fastener people.
You are known for sourcing product largely from Europe – why is this?
Having come from a recent Oil and Gas market, the origin of the product was being driven more and more to a European source and although its early days we see those requirements being driven through into the standards market, we are proud to stock hold and supply a wide range of products manufactured within the UK and Europe.
How important is traceability to Victory and your customers?
Having worked within that Petrochemical and Power Generation market it has really broadened my experience vastly, product integrity and traceability are paramount in any business. To meet those rising quality standards Victory Fasteners has invested in a European range of both finished and semi-finished fasteners in grades 10.9/12.9 and B7/L7, with over 95% available with certification 3.1 manufactured from European materials by quality assured European manufacturers with relationships that have stood the test of time.
What proportion of the business is export and what are your main regions?
Currently around 12% of our business is export with customers within the Scandinavian and European markets.
In terms of product range, have there been any recent additions to the range that the industry should know about?
We have taken a lot of time to redefine our stock range – it takes time within a new business to determine what items sell and more importantly what doesn’t. We have expanded the range extensively incorporating in-between lengths and adding additional products which fit the stock profile making us a more rounded stockholder.
Have you any final thoughts for our readers?
When we started the business it was extremely difficult to penetrate the market, but four years on and with a projected turnover this year in excess of £2 million it’s starting to get interesting.
Investing in stock and developing the management structure has enabled us to build a platform and with newly appointed shareholders Christian Jones and Mike Cooke we look forward to the challenge ahead.