Company officials with Fas- tenal learned this week that there's a lot of interest in the nuts and bolts of selling and distributing nuts and bolts.
A two-day expo that concludes today at the industrial and construction supply company's Modesto distribution center attracted more than 1,900 West Coast customers.
The customers didn't just see how Fastenal's 324,000-square-foot complex gets items to stores as far away as Canada, Mexico and Hawaii. They also met with Fastenal's vendors, who had booths to display their gloves, wrenches, harnesses, hammers and power tools.
Fastenal officials said the strong attendance showed that the Modesto site has become a major part of the company since it opened in late 2006.
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Company President and Chief Executive Officer Will Oberton said having the expo at Modesto's center showed customers what they could rely on when they buy supplies from Fastenal stores.
"We blended the expo with the shelves of products so that the customers could look around and say, 'Wow,' " Oberton said.
Fastenal, based in Winona, Minn., moved its distribution center from Fresno to Modesto because the company needed more space to keep its West Coast stores stocked, said operations manager Tom Sailors.
About 150 people work in the distribution center, with pay starting at $9.50 to $10.50 an hour, Sailors said.
"When they're new, it gives them exposure to what we do," Sailors said. "If they've been here awhile, the sky's the limit."
Wages are higher for the skilled workers in the neighboring manufacturing facility that makes custom orders, he added.
The company has an annual expo in Nashville, Tenn. But West Coast customers told Fastenal that they could send more representatives if there was an event closer to them.
That led to holding the event in Modesto, which had enough interest that the company is planning to hold it here again next year.
Mostly customers from outside California attended Wednesday, with in-state clients scheduled to attend today.
Once the expo ends, the center will revert to a normal schedule that's nearly around the clock, said regional marketing manager David Gonzales.
Modesto's Fastenal center distributes to hundreds of stores in the West and is active all but a few hours in the early mornings, he said.
Fastenal customers depend on Modesto's center to get parts to stores -- or to them directly -- in a timely manner, Gonzales said. They include neighboring companies such as Frito-Lay in the Beard and Mariposa industrial tracts as well as firms based outside the area, such as the Walt Disney Co., Gonzales said.
What does Disney buy from a plant in Modesto? Equipment for its roller coasters.
Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer can be reached at bvandermeer @modbee.com or 578-2331.