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When distributors talk about being a single source supplier, they are typically talking about the 
strategy of providing everything their customers need, from power and hand tools to accessories, fasteners 
and  other consumables.  There are many such single sources or “one-stop shop” distributors across the 
nation.

 

 But there are others ,a very few others, that apply this single source concept to their own suppliers as

well.  Houston-based United Tool & Fastener (UTF) is one of these.  Back in the early 1980s, when
Houston’s oil economy dried up, so did building.  Things got so bad that local distributors were hopelessly
deadlocked.  Eventually, three competing companies decided to unite to keep the wolves of bankruptcy at 
bay.  Thus, the name and the company, United Tool and Fastener, was born.  Of the six original owners,
Bobby Williams and Steve Blackwell remain.  As a result, UTF has a instantly recognizable,
unique market  position.  They have developed and nurtured brand-exclusive 
relationships with vendors as well as with customers.

This sense of dedicated partnership with vendors as well as customers has paid off in loyalty.  “We’re not
switching brands all the time, but customers know we’re always going to bring them quality products.  They don’t
have to worry about stuff changing on them all the time. They know we’re not out there to sell the cheapest prod-
ucts; we’re out there to sell quality.

For over 20 years, UTF has done it their way, and it has worked.  ”If we only stock one vendor’s product, they
know if they go out and generate that lead and turn it over to us, the customer is going to get their product,”
Bobby summarizes.  “We’re not going to try to substitute any other brand; we’re going to sell the product we stock 
for them”.

“Our big thing is service and taking care of our customers,” Steve adds.  “Home Depot doesn't do that; 
Lowe’s doesn't do that.  If people buy DeWalt products from those guys and want service on them, they won’t 
get it.  If you service your customer, then Home Depot is not an issue.  It’s all about service and being a partner
to your customer to get the job done.  We just apply that to our vendors too”.  The company handles more
than 6,000 line items and maintains nearly $4 million in inventory across three locations.  They also recently 
acquired retail space adjacent to their Houston location, and plan to enlarge the warehouse 
and showroom in the near future.