Fastenal

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  • Culture & Values
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1 person found this helpful  

A Disjointed, Double-Edged Experience

Inside Sales Support (Current Employee)

ProsFastenal has a decentralized business model which minimizes or eliminates ridgid operational prodcedures and gives every branch the ability to operate as they see fit. There is very little oversight / hand-holding from upper management.

You'll have tons of opportunity (though largely dependent on geographical location) for growth, development of relationships, and advancement and there is a staggering amount of product knowledge to acquire. The full-time medical benefits are fairly good (at least in my case). Matching 401K, stock options, etc. are available. Employee discount is substantial.

Fastenal can be a fun, fast-paced, satisfying place to work if all the right pieces are there.

ConsThe same decentralized model that affords the branches freedom to operate on their own also condemns a lot of branches to perpetual understaffing, poor time management, and lost sales. The success of a branch is largely dependent on how much the employees are willing to put into it. Sales dollars and margin are paramount. Everything else takes a back seat, especially training & development of employees, technology, and other support areas.

The company is frugal to the point that it can compromise productivity and even safety. Technology at the branch level (computers, hand scanners, etc) tends to be slow, several generations old and replacements cost the branch thousands against their sales. Fastenal leases many of its buildings and some are quite sub-par. Mold was rampant in my last branch, the warehouse area flooded every time it rained due to poor drainage, and the HVAC system only worked about half the time. OHSA compliance is left in the hands of the branch and there is next to no oversight when it comes to safety. HAZMAT materials are regularly transported via Dodge pickup truck without proper paperwork, signage, or anything.

Most branches don't have an adequate support staff to handle the day-to-day tasks of wrangling purchase orders, processing quotes, putting stock away and pulling orders, calling on past due accounts, managing inventory, answering the phones, dealing with walk-in customers, etc. These tasks are picked up by under-trained part time associates or by the GM and the sales team who SHOULD be out making sales calls, not doing data entry or chasing down packing slips. Inventory management at the branch level is a joke and there is practically no loss prevention department. All this ends up with the sales team having to handle all aspects of running the business, cutting in to the face time that they have with their accounts, generally leading to a decline in sales. These same salesmen are then evaluated on a monthly basis on a ridiculous number of graded categories and taken to task over why their numbers are suffering. The most common answer given from upper management is "Other branches make it work." Again, you get out what you put in, and many branches (including mine) were forced to bust our humps working unpaid overtime and weekends to turn things around.

The company's chief deficiency is in training. Branches often struggle to find decent part time help, available labor hours are frequently cut to save a buck, and new hires are expected to be "self-starters" and due to the sometimes frantic pace at Fastenal, they are given little chance to sit down with a more experienced employee and learn how things are supposed to work. They are, however, encouraged to watch training videos and take assessment tests on their own time via the company's corporate intranet. Individual branches are responsible for recruitment and development of employees, despite the fact that the District Manager has final say on who gets hired.

Advice to Senior ManagementInvest in your employees, even a tiny amount. Put together an actual structured, monitored training program. Understand that not everyone you hire is going to be your star salesman month after month. You can't fill a store with nothing but Triple-A sales people and expect it to run well. A company like this needs a support staff to handle store operations, training, procurement, inventory, accounting and, honestly, people to perform the grunt work of putting away orders and filling vending machines.*

*Recently Fastenal has rolled out a new hiring initiative to build up the part-time labor force, so at least this area is being addressed.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Overall good experience over 10 years employed there.

    Computer Support (Former Employee) Winona, MN

    I worked at Fastenal full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros: Company is growing, if your in sales you have a good… Cons: Not a lot of room for advancement, company seems to have a lot of family and friends so if you haven't been there since the… Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend More

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

     

    Introduction to sales, with tie-ins from other key business fields.

    Sales Support (Current Employee) Allentown, PA

    I have been working at Fastenal full-time for less than a year

    Pros: Learn lots of different business related tasks such as supply chain, accounts payable/receivable, and purchasing. Sales will be the focus; however, real life… Cons: Not enough support staff. The store never has enough staff members; instead we have to… Advice to Senior Management: Slow down on the layer building. We have way too… Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company… More

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