Buckeye Fasteners was founded as "The Ohio Nut & Bolt Company" on March 3, 1905, by Dr. J. C. Marting, Treasurer of Baldwin Wallace University and trustee for nearly half a century. Ohio Nut & Bolt initially produced bicycle chains during a time when bicycles were a major mode of transportation. In 1927, Roderick J. Whelan, Sr., the former general manager of Ohio Nut & Bolt, purchased the company. Whelan’s background in the manufacture of munitions during World War I and the Great War showed him the tremendous opportunity open to manufacturers of special nuts and bolts. Whelan took Ohio Nut & Bolt into a new direction in the weld fastener industry. In 1926, the first weld fastener was produced at Ohio, and the manufacture of square nuts and machine screws began. In 1928, Ohio reached a huge milestone, supplying its weld screws to the Model A Ford. The first HW weld screw was used on the frame of the Model A to allow one handed assembly of fenders.
The 1930’s—Thriving During the Great Depression
Ohio Nut & Bolt continued to thrive, despite the Great Depression. The thirties saw expansion in weld screws, weld nuts, machine screws, carriage bolts, and square weld nuts (WR style). There were no lay-offs during the great depression and Ohio kept workers busy repairing machinery and painting, when they weren’t making parts for customer orders. In 1933, leading trade papers carried a story about a novel type of bolt that was developed by Ohio Nut & Bolt, to take advantage of the projection or resistance welding process. The two bolts, one with projections under the head, and one with projections on the top of the head, were readily accepted by the foremost manufacturers of appliances and equipment made from metal. In December 1936, The Ohio Nut & Bolt Company was awarded a certificate for high standing in safety work in its class at the annual banquet of the Cleveland Safety council. According to the citation, the company topped the list in a group of thirteen bolt and nut manufactures in the Cuyahoga County District. The award was made by the Industrial Commission of Ohio in conjunction with the Cleveland Safety Council and the Cleveland News.
The 1940’s—The War Effort
During the forties, Ohio Nut & Bolt added WF flange weld nuts, WW weld nuts, and RW weld screws to their production line. At this point, Ohio Nut & Bolt had about forty-nine stock parts in their inventory. Ohio Nut & Bolt was called into action during the Second World War. The Germans had been probing our front lines looking for weaknesses, and they found a huge weakness in the rockets that the Americans were using. The tail section was weak, causing lethal results among US troops, as the rockets would ricochet out of control. General Patton called the Pentagon in Washington to demand relief from the disastrous situation. Ohio Nut & Bolt had a representative in Washington at the time and were quickly advised of the situation. The armed forces needed a weld screw to stiffen the tail section of the rocket. However, the daily capacity for production of that particular weld screw was 100,000 a day. The army wanted a total order of six million, in the shortest time possible! Without hesitation Ohio Nut & Bolt turned over its trade secrets to other nut and bolt companies and the six million screws were in the hands of the Army—ahead of schedule! In 1944 Whelan and then headerman at Ohio Nut & Bolt, Paul Sauerbrei, were among 28 representatives who were guests at the Industrial Incentive Division of the US Navy. Whelan and Sauerbrei boarded their LCI as “shipmates, first class” and witnessed phases of the Navy’s invasion program, which was only seen by a handful of civilians at that point. They also went to Camp Bradford, VA., where the enlisted men and officers are trained to man the Navy’s LSTs.
1950’s—Half a Century of Success
Ohio Nut & Bolt was now considered a leader in innovative weld fasteners. By 1955, Ohio Nut & Bolt was the second oldest and second largest industry in Berea, Ohio. They now carried 546 products in stock. Ohio Nut & Bolt had 116 employees at the time, over 24% of which had been with the company for twenty years or more. At the 50th Anniversary, then President R.J. Whelan was quoted in the Berea News saying, “We like to know a product’s potential before it is ever placed on the market. Instead of working to develop new products for which a market will be found later, we work on an ‘evolutionary’ basis, in other words, we watch to see industry’s needs unfold and then try to meet them.”
1960’s- A Decade of Change
Rod Whelan Jr. became president of Ohio Nut & Bolt and Fastener Industries, Inc. became the parent company of Ohio Nut & Bolt in 1964. Three separate division were set up to handle the growth and change in production and sales of the company. Fastener Industries, Inc. moved to Rocky River and Ohio Nut & Bolt expanded production of custom parts. A new plant was built in Brook Park for Modern Fasteners, which would handle high volume and high speed production at a lower cost. Another division of Fastener Industries, General Fasteners, was housed in Berea, with the purpose of selling parts other than what Ohio Nut & Bolt sold, to both domestic and foreign accounts.
1970’s- Continued Expansion
Fastener Industries continued its expansion and created a new plant called Ohio Special Products. Ohio Special Products, housed next to Modern Fasteners, handled the production of many low-volume custom parts and hand fed operations. In 1972, Ohio Distribution Centers became Buckeye Fasteners, Inc. a subsidiary of Fastener Industries and a distribution center for small orders. Buckeye opened a warehouse in Anaheim, California, and moved their inventory there, thus improving lead times for its growing West Coast customers.
1980’s- The Employee-Ownership Era Begins
Late in the year 1979, Rod Whelan and Jean (Whelan) Doheny decided to sell Fastener Industries, Inc. The Board of Directors approved and sought a buyer by hiring a sales agent. Richard Biernacki, then Treasure of Fastener Industries, knew of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP’S) and suggested that the employees by the company. The employees individually invested 85% of the total profit sharing monies to buy the company and the transaction closed on June 30 1980 making Fastener Industries, Inc. a 100% ESOP-owned Company, with all employees owning common stock as of the end of the year. The first board elected Richard Biernacki as the first President and CEO of the new employee-owned Fastener Industries, Inc.
1990’s- Growth and Development
The 1990’s were a decade of change for Fastener Industries. The company celebrated 10 years of employee ownership on June 30, 1990. Buckeye Fasteners added Buckeye Brokerage Division (later called Multisource Fasteners) in 1993, which provided another resource for customers, as this division searched for non-stock items, per customer request. In the 1990’s, Fastener Industries purchased a new VAX computer, which allowed programs to run at a much higher speed. In 1994, Fastener Industries built Joseph Industries, a new plant in Streetsboro, Ohio. The new facility included 32,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space and a new distribution center. The new facility also included a new computer and inventory system. In 1998, Fastener Industries Purchase Brainard Rivet Company in Girard, Ohio. Previously shut down by Textron/Camcar, the employees at Brainard diligently strived to reopen their company and were afforded this opportunity to join the ESOP family under Fastener Industries. Since the purchase in 1998, Brainard has more than doubled the number of employees and dramatically increased sales and profits.
2000’s to Now
The Future of Buckeye Fasteners Fastener Industries continued to expand to meet customer’s needs. Ohio Nut & Bolt and Modern Fasteners rebuilt primary machinery and improved secondary operations. Buckeye Fasteners increased sales and improved trade show attendance. The 2000’s had huge milestones for Buckeye with the 100th anniversary of Ohio Nut & Bolt and the 25th year anniversary of Buckeye Fasteners being an ESOP company. Today, the fastener group includes two Cleveland Ohio production facilities featuring the latest engineering and metallurgic skills to tackle the most challenging fastening requirement. The main distribution center located in Cleveland, Ohio is supported by outlying warehouses strategically placed throughout the United States, as well as a division in Ontario, Canada. Buckeye Fasteners supplies fasteners for the automotive, appliance, food equipment, metalworking, medical and furniture industries. Buckeye Fasteners has complete custom manufacturing capabilities and supports products from development to implementation.