If Kristin Glink had not changed her mind about a career halfway through college, she never would have made the friends or had the success she’s experiencing in the fastener industry today. The fastener sector wasn’t even on her radar.
“Unless you have parents or grandparents in the industry, it’s probably a rare career to consider, but I’m so grateful it’s where I ended up,” she shares.
Glink initially planned to become an elementary school teacher, but she found herself fully enjoying and excelling at the retail job she worked at during college. After a couple of years in school, she figured she should change career paths.
“I really loved sales, so I thought I should change majors and study business,” she says. “But as it turned out, none of my credits transferred, so I just started working retail full-time.”
She began building up her sales experience on the job — and she was good at it, often surpassing sales targets and leading her team.
“My dad was a very successful businessman, and he went to college for maybe a semester,” she says. “So, it showed me that I didn’t necessarily need a college degree to be successful. And for me, learning on the job proved indispensable.”
After a few years in retail, Glink decided to gain experience in a new field. She applied for a few jobs and, as fate would have it, landed a receptionist job at a fastener company. It was with Express Fasteners, a stock distributor of domestic and imported industrial hardware.
“I knew nothing about the industry. I could barely tell you the difference between a screw and a bolt, let alone the different types of screws,” she admits. “But I jumped in with both feet.”
After a couple of months, the company had an opening in the purchasing department and asked Glink if she wanted to take on the new role.
“According to my co-workers, I was baptized by fire, and it’s true,” she laughs. “Part of the job was to quote items, and I’d receive this long green bar paper with part numbers and descriptions, but they were all abbreviated. I’d call up distributors asking for a ‘1/4-20 x 3/4 H-H-C-S Z-N-C, and have no idea what I was asking for, but I learned pretty quickly.”
This baptism by fire is how Glink became immersed in the fastener industry, and it’s led to a full-fledged career, which she loves.
“They say once you’ve done three years in the fastener industry, you never leave,” she says. “That’s been true for me so far!”
After getting her start in the industry with Express Fasteners, Glink was offered a position at Delta Secondary, which specializes in fastener-related secondary machining operations and services. This allowed her to expand her knowledge in a new sector of the business.
“I went from a purchasing role back into sales, which was really exciting. It was also another big learning opportunity for me, but this time on the manufacturing side of the business. I got to learn about the different machines that make the fasteners.”
Next, Glink moved to D.L.P. Coatings, a provider of painted fasteners, where she met one of her best friends — Jennifer Kushnir, who was the sales manager at the company.
“We actually had met through the industry when I worked at Express Fasteners, which is really how this industry works. Everyone is quite friendly kind and very connected,” she says. “I would contact Jen whenever I needed a quote for an order, and we hit it off and have truly become besties.”
Both Kushnir and Glink also volunteer with Women in the Fastener Industry (WIFI), which provides opportunities for women in the industry to connect, network, and learn.
Kushnir previously served as WIFI’s president and now is chairwoman of the board. Glink is currently vice president and has served on the board of directors for the last four years. She also manages WIFI’s scholarships.
“WIFI is the best! The relationships and sisterhood that are formed are incredibly supportive. I haven’t experienced the same in other industries,” says Glink. “We also added a fifth scholarship this year for women in the industry who have kids in college. We help the recipient with some of the tuition costs.” (Learn more about the WIFI scholarships here).
Glink’s learning curve in the fastener industry doesn’t end there. While working in sales at D.L.P. Coatings, she was contacted by a recruiter.
“I had no intention of leaving D.L.P. and turned the recruiter down at first. But she was persistent,” she says. “Eventually, I decided to at least find out more details about the opportunity. I didn’t know it was with S.W. Anderson.“
S.W. Anderson is a stocking distributor and engineering representative for specialty fasteners, standard fasteners, and other OEM components. It was founded in 1926, with the aim of “solving people’s problems” — which it has been doing ever since.
This marks the fifth year that Glink has worked for the company. “As I mentioned, everyone is connected in this industry,” she says. “Previously, I had a long working relationship with S.W. Anderson as one of their customers, and it’s been an ideal fit.”
Glink began as an inside sales representative for the company, focusing on quoting standard and specialty fasteners.
“I was brought on as the company’s ‘quoting specialist’ because of my understanding of standard fasteners. Also, my experience with Delta Secondary looking at prints allowed me to easily help with specials and related orders. It’s interesting how I’ve accumulated the right knowledge for the right role… although no one ever stops learning in this industry!”
Just a few months ago, Glink was entrusted with a new “special project,” representing one of S.W. Anderson’s largest clients. The previous employee who covered this role retired.
“I’m currently the main contact for this customer, which has 11 different subsidiaries,” she shares. It covers everything from aerospace and automotive to agriculture and medical devices. “I feel honored and extremely blessed that my company has enough faith in me to lead in this way.”
Glink decided not only to take on the position, but to improve it.
“Many of the processes in this role were manually done, which take time and are subject to human errors,” she shares. “I really enjoy creating efficiencies, such as digital reports that improve the process. So, that’s part of what I’ve been doing, along with learning all about this customer. It’s been great so far.”
Although Glink never expected her experience in retail sales to lead to such a satisfying career in the fastener industry, she’s grateful it has.
“My time in retail sales feels like a lifetime ago,” she says. “But it taught me how to build relationships and gave me a foundation in sales that has only grown in the fastener industry. I’m so happy to be where I am today. I love the company I’m at and the people I work with. I mean… just the other day, the president of S.W. Anderson, Jim Degnan, took the time to call, check-in, and thank me for my work. I think that says it all.”