BIAFD: ‘Women in the Industry’ 16 November 2017

As part of the BIAFD initiative to focus on ‘Women in the Industry’, Fastener + Fixing Magazine invited attendees to describe their experience of working within the fastener and fixing sector.


sally matthews
Performance Fasteners Ltd
Managing Director


What have been the key points of your career?

“I have worked in the fastener industry since I left school, building up my experience and knowledge within the industry through various roles. In 2009, I became managing director of Performance Fasteners Ltd – a manufacturer of special fasteners, socket screws, turned parts, and engineering components for specific requirements. As a team we use our unique knowledge base, skill set, and technical expertise, to ensure we are providing customers with a flexible service and professional solutions.”

As a long-term attendee to BIAFD meetings, and key driver of the initiative, why did BIAFD decide to encourage women in the industry to attend?

“There are usually only three or four ladies at most that attend the meeting and I felt there was a lack of understanding about what the BIAFD has to offer, as well as maybe a misconceived perception that the association isn’t for women. I therefore suggested we focused on an invitation for ladies to come and join us for lunch and the meeting in the hope it would appeal.”

What feedback have you had from the attendees?

“The unanimous opinion was that it had been a roaring success enjoyed by all. I am quietly confident we will see an increase in the number of female attendees in the future to further enhance BIAFD.” 




What have been the key points of your career?

“I have worked in procurement all of my working life, taking on multiple roles throughout my career. My current role is category manager for male threaded fasteners at Optimas Solutions. I ensure that as a business, we purchase within a defined and consistent strategy. As part of that, I work closely with our chosen strategic supplier partners to continuously develop our service offering. Working with a diverse supply base, including prestigious companies worldwide, and being a part of these customer’s development over the years, has made my career interesting and challenging.”

How has the company and market developed since you started?

“Optimas has changed beyond all recognition since I started with the business. We were buying and selling standard fasteners in the seventies with one shared computer. We had a wide customer base and even a physical trade counter. 

Optimas is now a global provider of supply chain solutions, engineering support and highly engineered fasteners and C-class components. As a business, we can support OEM manufacturers or tier 1 suppliers throughout any stage of the production cycle, helping to deliver efficient and innovative solutions to enhance finished products and operations. We have a varied customer base, encompassing industries such as automotive, commercial vehicles, locomotives, high-tech, medical, garden machinery, off-highway, power generation, powertrain and recreational vehicles. Our main aim is to provide our customers with one integrated source for all fastener concerns. Ultimately, we are a full service provider for everything related to fasteners and their delivery.”

What opportunities do you see for the future?

“BREXIT is an unknown challenge, as well as an opportunity. Optimas is looking to broaden its product range and customer base and we see BREXIT as a great opportunity. Nuts and bolts have changed little over the years, but with a desire for lighter weight vehicles, who knows, this may be the opportunity to change to something completely different. Fundamentally, we always aim to keep pace with the innovations of our customers, no matter what the industry.

The primary advantage of Optimas is that we can take on any supply chain and consolidate it into one point of contact, tailored to the customer’s requirements. From specification to point of use on the production line, we can do it all. We also offer a global portfolio of components, as well as the capability to originate and test components to prove performance. There is also an extensive fastener technical knowledge inherent in the business, so we can provide engineering support and guidance to overcome application challenges, for example during prototyping. Our service is a blend of efficient supply, technical knowledge and fast response; which delivers cost savings and efficiency improvements to our customers.”

What did you think of BIAFD’s initiative to focus on ‘Women in the Industry’? 

“It’s a great initiative, we are observing more and more women entering the manufacturing and industrial workforce, which can only be a positive for all.” 


Jessica auld
Arpel Ltd, Rivco Ltd, Kamtech Fasteners Ltd
Marketing manager


What have been the key points of your career?

“I studied marketing at Aston University and started off my career in an internal marketing role in a finance company – looking after brands that dealt with car finance and personal loans. After just under two years I moved into an in-house agency role for a leisure company, as a marketing account executive. In this role I looked after seven horse race courses, a hotel, golf club and restaurant. I was responsible for handling all of the marketing and digital campaign work for these areas of the business. After a busy two and half years in this job I moved to my present role. I now work for Arpel, Rivco and Kamtech Fasteners, as marketing manager. I deal with all external and internal marketing campaigns for the three businesses.

To better understand the industry I started by working on the sales desk, which helped build my product and market knowledge as the industry was very alien to me. Today, my role in marketing the three companies entails the planning and creation of all marketing activity such as adverts, editorial, and customer e-shots. I also manage and maintain three company websites including one e-commerce site and I have most recently been working on the branding and roll out of ARK branded products.”

How has the company and market developed since you started?

“I have experienced a lot in the three years I have been here. First there was the change of Arpel Ltd to a key player in the market with a successful e-commerce platform. Then there was the start-up of Kamtech Fasteners, as well as the recent launch of ARK. I have also been part of a team that has experienced over 20% year-on-year growth for the past three years. 

As a group we now have Arpel, Rivco and Kamtech – all specialists in rivets, structural rivets, rivet nuts and associated tooling. All three companies are distributors of ARK manufactured rivets and rivet nuts and also have their own unique USPs. 

Arpel is the largest UK stockist of FAR fasteners and tooling and has a relationship with the supplier spanning over 25 years. 

Rivco is a main supplier of HUCK® fasteners and tooling products and has developed a unique understanding of this brand over 18 years. Rivco also delivers the complete HUCK fastener and tooling solutions service. 

Kamtech Fasteners, a new company of two years, has developed quickly into a valuable part of the group of companies. It proactively sells ARK branded rivets and rivet nuts to the industries distributors.” 

What opportunities do you see for the future?

“Brand development is a key part of my role here and I expect it to grow going forward. I see opportunities to develop additional customer service options/solutions for all companies as it is central to our USPs. I see Arpel, Rivco and Kamtech maintaining and strengthening their positions as providers of niche products and services within the fastener industry.” 

What did you think of BIAFD’s initiative to focus on ‘Women in the Industry’? 

“Before the recent BIAFD meeting, I have attended one other meeting where I was maybe, the second or third woman in the room. Consequently, I think it is a great initiative to focus on women in the fastener industry as in my short time in the fastener world, I have realised women are the back bone of the industry. A lot of sales teams and accounts departments are made up entirely of women and there are also many women in senior roles across the industry. We have a majority of women working in key roles within Arpel, Rivco and Kamtech and I have returned from the meeting with an encouraging message that we should all look to attend the BIAFD meetings to uphold the fair representation going forward.” 


Carly pearson


What have been the key points of your career?

“I started with Martyn Price in May 2006 in a sales administration role, before becoming purchasing assistant. In 2008, I became the main buyer for the company. To support my purchasing role, in 2012 I started my degree, which I completed in 2015. 

Now I have a dual role in the company, I am the buyer but I am also heavily involved in the sales side. My role on the purchasing side includes monitoring stock levels and sourcing accordingly, sending out RFQs to the UK/Far East/Europe for both stock enquiries and day-to-day trading enquiries, as well as negotiating with suppliers, placing purchase orders, supplier maintenance, stock maintenance, etc.

My role on the sales side involves reacting to sales enquiries, sourcing items that we don’t have on the shelf, processing sales orders, maintaining good customer relationships and actively seeking new business opportunities.”

How has the company and market developed since you started?

“As a distributor of fasteners and fixings we are continuously developing. We hold a wide variety of stock and offer a next working day delivery service to mainland UK on all stock items. You need to be constantly developing to ensure you are providing the products and service that your customers need. Where we are different is that we will source items that are outside our standard stock holding range. We also have the ability to cut, screw, re-plate, as well as supply products made to drawing.

Since I have joined Martyn Price, the systems and structures that we use within the company have been modernised. We have totally redeveloped our computer system and we have changed the way we do things to make processes slicker and more efficient. The product range has also expanded, for example the introduction of threaded rods to our core product range.” 

What opportunities do you see for the future?

“Going forward we will continue to work closely with our customers and provide a first class service. There is uncertainty around BREXIT, which could potentially cause challenges, but there will also be opportunities. I don’t think anyone really knows, but it will be interesting to see what happens.” 

What did you think of BIAFD’s initiative to focus on ‘Women in the Industry’? 

“I think it’s a great idea. I speak to women every single day on the telephone, probably on par with the number of men I speak with. However, at events such as BIAFD I find that women are very under represented. There is usually only myself and 2 or 3 other women at the BIAFD meetings. It was good to see a shift in the ratio at the recent meeting. Nowhere near 50 / 50 still, but a great improvement on the usual.” 


Glenda roberts
TR Fastenings Ltd
Group sales director


What have been the key points of your career?

“I originally started in fast moving consumables with two American corporations. However, I could see with the advent of computerisation that things were going to change and that they were not going to need 450 sales people on the road. I therefore moved into industrial sales in 1982 and within five years I had risen to sales director. In 1990 I joined TR Fastenings Ltd as sales director for the Telford manufacturing site.

I could see from joining TR that the company was growing and it just felt the right thing to do. TR had a fresh approach and were at the early stages of vendor managed inventory, which was new at the time. 

A key point was around 2000 when our customer base was drifting towards low cost countries abroad and leaving the UK. We decided to set up a global team and catch the business that was moving abroad. I put a team together and worked extensively out in China, as well as eastern Europe, and was instrumental in the opening of our Hungarian operation. 

What we found when we went to these countries was that a lot of the senior people that we dealt with in the UK or in Europe had gone out and were running the plants. This meant that straight away we had a relationship. They liked what TR did for them in the UK and they wanted to recreate that in China, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, wherever it maybe.

Our business has grown substantially on the back of it, and following the global multinationals has probably become the key driving force of our business today – especially with the automotive market.

At the time, setting up businesses around the world was difficult. I was travelling on my own, and whilst I enjoyed trailblazing and setting up something new, it took a long time to get the momentum in the different markets. But once the ball was rolling you could make it a success. The key was having a good team with knowledgeable people.”

How has the company and market developed since you started?

“A key development was in 2007, which is when TR Fastenings started to have a stronger automotive strategy, as we could see that automotive was going to be the fastest market coming out of recession. Focusing on the automotive sector enabled us to upscale the way we operated and put us in a different league – as we could provide the products and importantly the service. The demands of the automotive customers are a lot more stringent and they require a lot more service. By working at this level for the automotive sector our other customers benefited.

Another big change has been globalisation. Thanks to our decision to follow our customer base and set-up operation around the world, we could take advantage of opportunities. We now have three global account directors and strategic business managers that work with our locations around the world to ensure the same service is delivered. 

We have got to the stage where we are supplying some global companies over 45 sites, which means everyone has to work to the same blueprint. To do this you have got to have good people on the ground servicing them locally; good people in the middle that have all the skills sets to make the business ‘lie down’; and the global account directors and strategic account managers to work closely with the customers – so that we properly represent what that clients need, wherever they are in the world. We have won quite a lot of business awards through this approach, which we jealously guard.

I must point out that we don’t just focus on the ‘big’ companies, we have business models to support different sectors and sizes of companies. We take a logical approach and we are not just interested in the ‘big players’, we have a nice spread.

The final difference is legislation – the amount of paperwork and legislation now compared to when I first started with TR is almost night and day. I think because of product recalls and warranties, and the way the world is going, if you don’t have the necessary paperwork in place you are not able to deal with the big companies.

You need to be able to ensure you have the right certifications – such as ISO/TS 16949 and ISO 14001. Customers now expect these as standard. You also need be aware and prepared for topics such as conflict minerals and the bribery act, plus the requirements for non-disclosure agreements. Being able to provide all this information immediately elevates you above the competition. 

Our attitude is that if new legislation is on the horizon then we will embrace it early and be ahead of the game – to take the pain away from customers. We have done this successfully with REACH and RoSH2. In fact, we had customers coming to us saying that they had a RoSH manager and they would need to work with us and we were able to tell them our products were already certified.
This underlines our philosophy of being a leader not a follower.”

What opportunities do you see for the future?

“I think technology will play a big role in the future. It has already made enormous difference to our life for the better. Everybody now has got a laptop, a mobile phone or a tablet, but 17 years ago it was a lot more difficult. I remember being in China and having to use a dial-up line for my laptop, which made it very tough. Now you have Skype that enables you to keep in touch with the office easily and you can talk face-to-face with customers or colleagues on the other side of the world. 

Other interesting technologies include 3D printing – where we are doing a lot of prototyping – as well as liquid metal moulding, which we are exploring with the aim of helping us to shorten lead times. 

Another opportunity is e-mobility, we have done a huge amount on electric vehicles and we are trying to understand how the market is going to change and what fasteners will be used for the future – such as in composites and new materials. We can then look at what is missing in our portfolio and how we can fill that gap.

Finally, as well as continuing to see purchasing managers in companies, we are focusing on engineers and designers. We recently restructured our whole website to target engineers – so that we can get involved in projects at the beginning. 

Previously you would deal with the commodity managers who would send you a drawing. Now they want you involved in their design centres, and they want the early involvement. You could be dealing with an engineering group that is in Germany, designing a product that goes into North America. Because we are in both these areas we have engineers that can work with the different continents, which is a huge benefit. We are always trying to see what can keep us ahead of the game. Customers will always need fastenings and it is about catching that next wave.”

What did you think of BIAFD’s initiative to focus on ‘Women in the Industry’? 

“I hadn’t been to a meeting before, so I hadn’t realised how male dominated it was, so I think BIAFD was trailblazing really. There were some quite strong ladies that attended, a lot that I knew within the industry but had never had the pleasure to meet. It was quite nice to see the numbers of people there. In years gone by I would go to seminars and found myself being the only woman in the room, which I quite liked because you stood out from the crowd. But I am seeing more women attending meetings within the industry, which can only be a good thing. I hadn’t expected the turnout that BIAFD managed to achieve. I think they did a great job in getting everyone there and I think a telling point will be the next meeting. Most of the people I spoke to said that they would be back. I am planning on attending the next one, so that shows how much I enjoyed it.” 


Nicola Mallin

Righton Fasteners, part of Hexstone Group
General manager


What have been the key points of your career?

“When I joined Righton in 2000 my main aim was to become the manager and I worked towards this goal. A key point was in 2006, when I successfully relocated Righton Fasteners from Bristol to Birmingham into a new purpose-built warehouse space – designing the layout of the warehouse and racking facilities, whilst introducing barcoding to streamline the warehouse functions.

In 2010 my goal was achieved when I took over as service centre manager from my predecessor Ken Graham. I continued with this role through the acquisition of Righton Fasteners by Hexstone Group in 2016, when I then became general manager.

I am now responsible for the sustainable performance and growth strategy, whilst improving the quality of service provided to customers.”

How has the company and market developed since you started?

“Since I started with Righton we have always looked to develop and grow as a business. Obviously, becoming a division of Hexstone Group, the UK’s leading independently owned wholesaler of industrial fasteners, enabled us to provide a wider range of products off the shelf. We are now able to offer customers A2 and A4 stainless steel, brass, carbon steel and plastic fasteners, along with higher grade alloy socket and hexagon fasteners in 10.9, 12.9 and 14.9 or source special items to drawings.”

What opportunities do you see for the future?

“As a business you need to always be thinking about what challenges you may come up against or try to predict what opportunities we could get involved in. BREXIT is the main obstacle that we are all currently talking about. With all the thought and planning in the world, you never know until it’s there in front of you. It’s how you grab those opportunities or deal with the challenges that count.”

What did you think of BIAFD’s initiative to focus on ‘Women in the Industry’? 

“Very refreshing is my personal opinion. Being involved with the BIAFD meetings since 2009 and one of the only long-standing women to attend both the day and evening event. It’s a long time overdue. 

Within my daily working life, I do not communicate much with the other distribution members of BIAFD and it’s a great opportunity twice a year to do so. Let alone having the opportunity to chat and get to know successful female members in the industry.

When I first joined the fastener industry, and knowing where I wanted my career to go, it became apparent that this was a male dominated industry. Not that this worried me, in fact it made me more determined to succeed. This meeting celebrates, encourages and inspires women in business. Showing women can succeed in anything that they put their minds to. And that was proven by the calibre of ladies that attended. I can’t wait for the next meeting.” 


Will Lowry Editor t: +44 (0) 1727 814 509


Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 10 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.

Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.