Fix & Fasten was initially established in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine West in 2015. After perfecting the right combination of expertise, layout and range, owners Jason Filia and David Svrakov took the plunge and opened a second store just before COVID hit in 2019.
Business: Fix & Fasten
Owners: Jason Filia & David Svrakov
Locations: Sunshine West and Campbellfield, Melbourne
Building Group: HBT’s Industrial & Tools Traders (ITT)
Upon developing the second store, Jason and David prioritised several ‘non-negotiables’ to ensure the business’ success. The first priority was sourcing an area of Melbourne that showed a gap in the industrial sector, and the second priority was sourcing a site that would accommodate a structure that would be twice the size of the original store.
It was not long before the perfect site was located in Campbellfield in Melbourne’s north, and the new branch was built to be much larger than the original store. This is because the owners found that the Sunshine West business outgrew its own site very quickly and was already in need of an upgrade.
“We learned from this mistake and although the Campbellfield site may have been slightly too big when we first built it, we are so grateful that we now have the space to do what we need because it has already grown so much in just three years,” Campbellfield Branch Manager Rick Sekker said.
“When sourcing the Campbellfield location we also needed a site that was close enough to Sunshine West to link the two stores together but far enough away that would establish a firm presence in both the west and north of Melbourne and in areas where there were weaknesses to the supply. I also repped the area to develop a customer base before the store was built and we set it up from there,” Rick said.
Opening the second store in Campbellfield was a challenge to begin with due to the onset of the pandemic, but the team quickly found their feet by mirroring what had worked at the Sunshine West store.
“We found that many industries came to a halt during COVID but Fix & Fasten was up and running and committed to supporting customers that still had the ability to trade. It was also during this period that we accessed different opportunities that have helped us strengthen our position in the market and this has assisted us in growing the business even further,” he said.
Product knowledge builds strong customer base
Both directors have consistently utilised their strong backgrounds to grow the businesses, with Jason delivering a strong background in fasteners to the stores, while David utilised his expansive experience in abrasives.
“After working in the corporate world for some time, Jason saw a niche to create a business that was user-friendly for the customer and was more B2B than B2C. Most of the team have an extensive background within the industry which has served us well in growing the business. I began my career in the fastening industry in 1996 as a supplier and I have worked in this role in Germany, Ireland and England.”
Both stores now have a customer base that is 100 per cent industrial, including manufacturing customers to general construction and civil works customers, along with those that work within the truck building and transport industries.
For now, there is still plenty of opportunity to grow both businesses because the customer base is so diverse and there is a real need for high-quality customer service within this sector, Rick says.
“Our stores are focused on delivering an exceptional experience for all of our clients and having the ability to listen to our customer’s needs and advise them accordingly. Remaining flexible is also paramount when dealing with our clients, which we believe is the cornerstone of our success.”
“The depth of experience that resides in our business across both stores provides a platform that allows us to stand out from our competitors. Our customers know this is why they come to Fix & Fasten for advice and why we are confident that they will get the right advice when speaking with our team,” Rick said.
Fix & Fasten’s General Manager, Ricardo Posada says customers know that when they visit either store, they are talking to a team that has extensive industry knowledge.
“When customers contact us for an enquiry they never have to wait while our staff check the information they require because everyone knows how to answer all manner of customer enquiries. We also make sure that the purchasing process for our customers is seamless as well,” Ricardo said.
With 36 staff employed throughout the two stores, Rick says both businesses ensure that all front sales counters are manned permanently to welcome existing and first-time customers when they first enter the store.
“When customers enter our store with an enquiry, the challenge most of the time is just to identify what the customers are actually looking for to suit the project they are trying to complete,” Ricardo said.
“A lot of our business growth has come from the front counter because customers often call in simply to have a chat and get a feel for the extensive range of products we stock. They might not be happy with what the opposition has to offer them so they come in and have a look around.”
“Much of our business development has also come from word-of-mouth throughout the B2B channel. Similar businesses might be working together and they often refer their partners or other companies that they work with on-site. We also get a lot of referees from our external salespeople who are out there drumming up business as well.”
“In saying this, the cornerstone of our success comes from our knowledgeable team who provide exceptional service and a willingness to go above and beyond our customers’ expectations. We make sure both stores have an extensive range with immediate availability. If we do not stock a product, we make sure we source the items from our extensive supply chain within short lead times,” he said.
Fix & Fasten’s digital marketing has begun “to come alive” in recent months, with Ricardo saying that the business will soon grow its online space even further.
“Google reviews show us that our digital marketing is picking up and we now see the importance of pushing this space even further. Online shopping is another thing we are considering in the near future. While we want online shopping to be available to our customers it is difficult because there are so many SKUs throughout both businesses. We want to make sure that if our customers do shop online, they can choose the right size and the right material and finish. There are so many aspects that are critical when setting up something like this and we want to do it properly.”
“In the meantime, we will continue to frequently analyse our data and make quick decisions that allow us to adapt to the needs of the market and customers. We have begun to work extensively on our digital marketing by releasing a new website last year and we also want to show more of our range throughout our website as well. We do not have our broad range on-site as yet but this is something that we want to implement soon,” Ricardo said.
Aligning with HBT
Upon establishing both stores, Fix & Fasten aligned with HBT’s industrial arm – ITT. Rick says aligning with the extensive HBT group has not only enabled the businesses to access a wide range of products, but has also allowed the stores to develop great relationships with the right suppliers.
“It is so crucial to be with a group that consolidates with our business and allows us to source a wider range of suppliers. This is particularly important when it comes to having suppliers recommended to you because we just do not have the time to make mistakes. HBT helps us to easily find the partners we need to supply and stock up for our customers. And if we do not have something, they help us source supply as quickly as they can.”
“Being part of the HBT group means that we do not need to say no to any customers anymore and we can explore pretty much everything because we have access to such a broad range. We have also built up a lot of close relationships with other members and we have a long history with them. If they are struggling to source certain brands and products, we rely on this brotherhood to help us in those instances as well,” Rick said.
For now, Ricardo says both stores will continue to work diligently to extend its offer in the Melbourne metropolitan area while also strengthening their digital presence as well.
“We will try to expand, renew or change the Sunshine West store but it is still early days and this is the planning stages. For the Campbellfield store we will work hard to make the store more digital, change technology and replace many of the systems in-store making the brand stronger and remaining flexible. I think developing our online space is crucial because it will allow us to develop the store now, and well into the future,” Ricardo said.