In this audio interview, Fastener Engineering speaks with Marisa Mudge, marketing manager with Mudge Fasteners, Inc., a nationally recognized and essential component supplier.
Mudge Fasteners is still open for business and, to this end, Marisa kindly agreed to discuss the measures the company has put into place, given the current health concerns and challenges related to COVID-19.
To learn more about Mudge Fasteners — which was founded by Marisa’s father, Paul Mudge, in 1975 — read this company profile.
The following is a lightly edited transcript…
Fastener Engineering (FE): Hello everyone. Thanks for listening. I’m Michelle Froese, an editor with Fastener Engineering. Today, Marisa Mudge is on the line with me. Marisa is the marketing manager with Mudge Fasteners, a nationally recognized supplier.
Given the current global health challenges and fight against COVID-19, we at Fastener Engineering are interested in how companies are coping. What precautions they’re taking and any potential tips they may want to share with others. Although many companies have been forced to shut down or work remotely. Others are deemed essential to critical industries and are still open for business.
To this end, Marissa kindly agreed to jump on a call with me and share her experience at Mudge Fasteners so far. Marisa, thanks so much for your time.
Marisa Mudge (MM): You’re welcome, Michelle. I’m happy to spend some time talking about our business and what we’re doing, how we’re responding to the COVID-19. So, things have changed quite a bit. Obviously, the first thing that became a concern was making sure that our workforce stays safe. And that concern is shared across our industry, as well as with other customers and vendors that we work with.
One of the things that we’ve done here … actually we’ve done several things. One of the first things we’ve done ,and I know a lot of other distributors have done the same thing, is that we have discontinued will calls. So, really the only way we’re moving product is through small parcel or truck line, which limits the amount of contact that our staff has with outside people coming into our office.
And we’ve done some other things in the office. One of the things that we’ve done is we purchased a bunch of disposable thermometers. And every employee is required to take their temperature prior to entering the building.
And then if anybody has a fever, they’re not welcome to join us.
FE: Right. Makes sense.
MM: Our particular company is really small. We’re only 10 people. And we have pretty much everybody working at home. The people that still come into the office every day are just me and three other employees. And we are very spread out. I have one person in the warehouse, one person in a sales office, and then I’m in the front office. So, we’re completely spread apart.
The other thing we do and why I have four people here is because the building has four restrooms. Each of us has an assigned restroom.
FE: That sounds ideal. It sounds like you’re doing everything possible to stay safe.
MM: Yes. We don’t really have the luxury … I mean some of the people that work in different roles have the luxury of working at home. But we move a physical product and we have a warehouse. So, a few of us do have to come in. What we’ve seen some of our customers doing and a practice that we’ve adopted is that when small parcels do get delivered. We spray them with a disinfectant, we let them sit anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before we start handling them.
MM: Yeah. So, anything that’s coming inbound, hopefully, is sanitized before we start to work with it.
FE: For sure. Can you tell me a little bit more about the products that you offer at Mudge Fasteners?
MM: Yes, we’re an industrial distributor. We distribute nuts, bolts, and screws. And we are considered an essential business. So, we’re staying open. One of our largest accounts is really close to us; they’re actually in our same business complex. They manufacturer electrical generators. Their crews have gone from a normal eight-hour day to working 24-hour a day. This is for two reasons. For one, their business has increased. And two, they’ve had to decrease the size of their manufacturing team during the day and stagger them. So, this means they’re working 24 hours a day.
Anyway, we sell into all different types of manufacturing. One of the calls that I got on Thursday, for example, was from a company in North Dakota that manufactures medical ventilators. They have an order for 2,000 ventilators that needed to be shipped on April 17th. And I got that call on April 9th. And it’s interesting because the product they were asking for typically takes two weeks to turnaround.
MM: We were working with our vendor partners, and we were able to turn it around in three days.
FE: That’s amazing.
MM: Yeah, everyone in our industry is really trying to accommodate anybody that’s working with medical devices. For example, as I said, typically this type of … the parts they want are two-week turnaround time.
MM: So, one of the parts … I’m working with two separate fabricators. And both of the fabricators have bumped the jobs to the top of their line. And have shortened their lead times into 48 hours for me.
FE: That’s incredible.
MM: And at no additional charge, which I thought was really generous. And it’s great because it means the company producing those medical ventilators won’t have to bear the additional cost of an expedited fee.
FE: So, you sound like you’re handling things and managing things quite well considering. Have there been any major challenges that have come up for you? Or have you been able to keep everything going as well as it sounds?
MM: Well, I mean, the major challenge is business is slowing down. There are a few critical industries in manufacturing that we’re selling to. Their business is increasing and they’re still working. However, they’re mostly focusing those lines on medical devices. But there are other lines, which have dropped off.
I think like everybody else, the biggest challenge is watching a decrease in our sales. And having to be conscious of how we’re going to conserve and use our resources so that we can, again, protect our workforce, and keep them working as long as possible.
FE: Of course. It’s a challenging time for sure. Have you been able to manage staff like personnel and somehow maintain positivity at this time?
MM: Well, yes. I mean, we do what we can.
FE: I know it’s tough.
MM: It is tough. I mean, again, our company’s pretty small. We are 10 people and we use a nationwide network of partners to sell across the country. However, our core team is 10 people and we’ve all been working together for a really long time, which is nice.
So, I think as far as maintaining a positive attitude…I mean, the only thing that I can think of to do is I’ve been getting coffee delivered and that comes from a local coffee shop. We feel positive that we’re supporting a local restaurant, business. So, I’ve been getting coffees and croissants and things delivered in the morning.
FE: That’s so nice.
MM: Well, it’s kind of amusing because the person comes in and we just wave at them and have them leave it on their desk. We wipe it off and then everybody puts their mask on and grabs their stuff.
MM: But I think, small things like that at this time, kind of make things easier for people.
FE: Small kindnesses, for sure. That’s very sweet. Any final tips you’d like to share with listeners at this time?
MM: I think as far as the COVID-19 goes, one of the things that are really important for small businesses, in general, is to keep looking at the SBA website to see what kind of funding opportunities are available for companies. For the work-share programs, for the loans, for payroll, and for staying on top of that. We’ve been really fortunate that we have been able to apply for those things early on. We’re hoping to see some results from that soon. And then just to continually stay in contact with all your vendors and all your customers. And know what everybody’s doing so you can best understand how to serve them.
FE: Good advice, Marisa! If listeners would like to learn more about Mudge Fasteners, where can they go?
MM: Our website is www.mudgefasteners.com.
FE: Perfect. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate the conversation, Marisa. Stay safe, I wish you all the best. And thanks to everyone else for listening. This is Michelle Froese for Fastener Engineering.
MM: Thanks, Michelle!