By Kathy Foster
A lot has changed in the metal fabrication industry since Atlantic Bolt and Threadline Products started in the 1980s, but what hasn’t changed is our commitment to our customers and Charlotte.
Today’s Threadline Products is a merger of two Charlotte-based companies – Threadline Products, founded in 1984, and Atlantic Bolt, launched in 1987. The merger earlier this year brought together the two local Anchor Bolt Fabrication companies to create the current organization that serves the Carolinas and the Southeast.
I started in the accounting department at a steel fabricator more than 45 years ago. I worked my way into the purchasing department. Eventually, I went to work with Jim Boyles and Ernie Lambert, and they took me with them when they set up their shop.
Doing Business: Then vs. Now
Steel fabrication was male-dominated when I first started and is still a majority-male industry. However, there are more women in the business than 40 years ago.
When I first started learning about the business, I had to read many books and ask many questions. We could not just use Google to explain to us how something works. At the time, we did have our own walking encyclopedia, though, in the form of former Atlantic Bolt President and my mentor Ernie Lambert.
Back then, a handshake was enough to get business done. Everything grew out of face-to-face conversations. Today, we have all become very technology driven. We conduct business over email. We write detailed contracts.
Steel Fabrication: Then vs. Now
The widespread use of tension control bolts was a game changer for the industry. Before tension control bolts, someone had to climb up into the steel frame and test bolts to ensure they were tightened with the correct tension.
Tension control bolts have saved time and improved safety at the job site by reducing injuries. Now, inspectors and engineers can stay on the ground with a pair of binoculars.
Over the past 20 to 30 years, buying imported materials has become far more common. Everything was made in the United States when I started – down to the sheet metal screws. We do a lot more global business sourcing for materials.
Building Charlotte and the Southeast
Many of the anchor bolts that helped build the city came from the Atlantic Bolt and Threadline Products shops. As a local fabricator, we had the jump on many projects, but not all. In large-scale projects, the contractors can come from anywhere, and often, that means the lowest bid.
It’s a competitive business, but being local and fast has its advantages. There have been large projects where the contractors are ordering hardware nearly daily.
Steel fabrication also is a business where your name and your reputation matter. Projects come our way because people know they can rely on Threadline’s quality, speed and flexibility.
We pride ourselves on building relationships with our customers. We handle each customer as an individual – like they are the only customer we have. That’s how we’ve been able to grow quicker than many businesses.
If you want to learn more about the Threadline difference and our products, contact us today.