It seems destined that Lauren Hicks would one day join All State Fastener Corporation, a specialized vendor of standard and engineered fasteners in Roseville, Michigan. Her paternal grandfather started the company nearly 60 years ago and it’s where her parents met.
“I believe my mom was first hired to work on the switchboard, back when they were used, and my dad was working alongside my grandfather at the company,” shares Hicks. “Gradually, my mom became more involved with sales and other parts of the business. But she used to tell me that my dad and her would often work six days a week together.”
Eventually, the two — Tony and Christine Giorgio — wed and both still work at All State. They’re now with Hicks’ aunt and uncle. Hicks began in human resources with the company in 2018 and recently moved to the purchasing department. Her brother, Tony, also works in sales.
“It’s interesting,” she adds. “Because my grandfather started this company with a friend of his — the two had been co-workers for another fastener supplier and thought they could do just as well if not better on their own, which proved to be true.
All State Fastener has been working for decades in partnership with major OEMs and Tier Suppliers in industries including automotive, transportation, heavy equipment, construction, appliances, electronics, and others. The company supports production and MRO fastener requirements, with ISO 9001:2015, FCA, Ford Q1, and C-TPAT certifications.
Although it seems only natural that Hicks would join the family business, it was not where her career path began.
“In college, I majored in sociology and minored in business, and then ended up in HR,” she laughs. “I started with Quicken Loans right after college and mostly did recruiting for them. Then, I moved into HR at Henry Ford Hospital.” The Hospital is in Detroit, about 25 minutes from Roseville.
It was good experience for Hicks, who essentially grew up in the family biz, spending summers and winter breaks helping out at All State Fastener to earn extra spending money as a teen.
“Even during college, I knew I had an interest in business but never really considered fasteners, despite growing up with my family’s work in the industry …or maybe because of that. I needed to find my own way for a bit and gain my own work experience,” she says.
In 2018, it seems fate intervened. Hicks was ready for a new challenge and a new job.
“As it happened, the previous HR person at All State resigned and my dad asked if I’d be interested in taking over the position,” she says. “The timing was perfect.”
It’s been three years since Hicks joined the family fastener business, though her role changed a few months ago as she’s been wanting to expand her knowledge and learn new parts of the business.
“I went from HR to the purchasing department this past November,” she shares. “It’s been such a nice change and growth opportunity. Although I have to admit, I was nervous at first because I had never dealt with vendors, products, part numbers, or supply chains before. HR was all I had ever known.”
However, Hicks’ time spent working in human resources over the years likely provided some of the best experience she could have gotten for dealing with customers and supply chains. “I thought it would be a major learning curve and, certainly, I’ve had great training that supported this transition for me. But so far, I’m fully enjoying it and liking the change of pace.”
This makes sense considering Hicks spent most of 2020 in HR — throughout the pandemic, during a statewide stay-at-home order in Michigan, and for all of the new health regulations and workplace restrictions.
“It was so stressful,” she says. “You’re trying to remain hopeful for everyone and, at the same time, extremely concerned and uncertain about what’s going to happen. I was trying to find answers and support everyone to the best of my ability, and yet I needed reassurance at the same time, too.”
All State was deemed an essential business as the company supplies to critical industries, including the medical sector, so it has remained open throughout the pandemic. It worked on a skeleton crew for some time, due to the social-distancing restrictions, and had some short-term layoffs.
“Thankfully, we were able to bring most employees back by July, which was great because things have been picking up ever since. In fact, we’ve had to ramp up our hiring,” says Hicks. “We’ve been extremely fortunate to have picked up some new customers and accounts. Plus, we were able to help out and supply much-needed parts for ventilators early in the pandemic.”
All State Fastener supplied to General Motors and Ventec Life Systems in their production of critical-care ventilators — made all the more significant given the tight turnaround time. All State shortened a typical 12 to 14-week lead time to nine days.
“This was huge for us and felt like a big accomplishment during such a worrisome time…like somehow we could help out,” she says.
It’s also been a blessing of sorts, says Hicks, to work with family during such a challenging time.
“Honestly, I’ve been coming into this office for what feels like forever because it was so much a part of my childhood. It would be easy to take it for granted…and, I mean there are days where you feel like you’re seeing your family all week and then all weekend,” she shares. “But I’m truly grateful.”
This doesn’t mean it’s always easy, Hicks says. She recalls her parents sitting her down when she first started at All State to explain how family dynamics can affect the workplace and appearances.
“Sometimes, from the outside, it can seem like one might get extra attention or benefits when your family owns the business. But, if anything, I’ve found the opposite is true. At least for myself, I’ve felt like it’s important to work harder to prove that I’ve earned my position…like there’s almost a higher standard. At the same time, there’s also a vested interest in wanting your family’s business to grow.”
As for her future, Hicks is looking forward to learning more about the business over time.
“You know, growing up my parents often talked about how much they loved the fastener industry and that intrigued me and has made me curious. We’ve got people that have been here for 25, 40, maybe 50 years…I’ve never seen that type of longevity in other sectors. So, what is it exactly?” she asks. “I think maybe it’s the people and connections made. I often wonder if I’ll get the same bug for this industry…and, some days, I think I’m starting to sense it.”