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July 18, 2012

Back to the beginning - Fastenal's vending machines

I realize this is not really new info. Winona nuts and bolts powerhouse Fastenal has been intalling industrial 'vending machines' for the past few years.

G111086ex13_pg011cBut I hadn't really looked at this in depth. Vending machines accounted for about 20 percent of net sales this past quarter. Fastenal has 13,036 vending machines in operation right now.

"We believe industrial vending is the next logical chapter in the Fastenal story, we also believe it has the potential to be transformative to industrial distribution, and that we have a 'first mover' advantage. We are investing aggressively to maximize this advantage."

The cool thing about this, to me, is that Fastenal's founder Bob Kierlin actually envisioned vending machines as the original concept for the company in 1967.

The technology of that time made that problematic, so he decided to open stores.

And now his first idea is quickly becoming a major piece of the company's business.

I guess Kierlin's legendary frugality keeps him from throwing much away, even old ideas.


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I think a great idea is key to great business and that's what Bob Kierlin did.

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