What's New: Technical Threads

November 9, 2011
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Welcome to What’s New Wednesday, a new feature profiling local startups—and the entrepreneurs behind them. This week, we meet Adam Howell and Matt Simon, who opened Technical Threads in Greenwood in May.

Type of business: industrial fastener distributor

Address: 1729 S. U.S. 31, Suite F, Greenwood

Phone: 215-4781

E-mail: adam.howell@tech-threads.com, matt.simon@tech-threads.com

Website: www.tech-threads.com

Founded: May 10, 2011

Owners: Adam Howell and Matt Simon

Owners’ background: Business partners Matt Simon and Adam Howell met while both were working in sales for construction-supply behemoth Ferguson Enterprises, which has more than two dozen locations in Indiana.

Matt Simon, co-owner, Technical ThreadsMatt Simon, above, and partner Adam Howell sell industrial fasteners at startup Technical Threads. (IBJ Photo/Perry Reichanadter)

Simon, 30, is a St. Louis native who earned a business degree from the University of Evansville. He stayed there after graduation, selling specialized steam equipment before joining Ferguson. Simon moved to central Indiana in 2008 and now lives in Greenwood with his wife. They are in the process of adopting a baby boy from Ethiopia.

Howell, 28, started studying business at Franklin College and finished up at Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus. He started his career with Fastenal, the giant of the fastener industry, before moving on to Ferguson. He lives in Franklin.

Why started business: The men were working 70 hours a week in a “high-dollar, high-profile and high-pressure” sales environment, Howell said, and they simply couldn’t imagine keeping it up for another 30-plus years.

So they began talking, casually at first, about how to break free. They spent Saturdays at a Starbucks in Franklin, putting together what would become a 50-page business plan that addressed every contingency they could imagine.

“We talked about everything,” Simon said. “We do business the same way.”

With potential vendors and clients identified and cash flow projections in hand, they set out to sell fasteners—think screws, bolts, nuts, washers and the like—to industrial customers. In the past three months, they’ve established a “laser focus” on serving heavy industry, including power plants and oil refineries.

Competitive advantage: The partners believe their small size gives them an edge. They are able to work directly with customers to find the right part for the intended use, including specialty pieces.

“Big companies are the best competitors for small businesses,” Howell said. “They’re not as efficient, and they can’t react as fast.”

Simon cited Technical Threads’ attention to detail: Order accuracy at the six-month mark stood at 99.7 percent.

That’s where their pre-launch planning helped. Before they hung out their shingle, the men spent countless hours figuring out how they’d track products as they come in and out of their Greenwood warehouse.

”On Day 1 we had 14,000 part numbers set up,” Simon said. “We wanted to have  systems in place. The first day, we took orders and were able to process them in an efficient manner.”

Startup cost: $32,000

Funding source: personal savings

Potential problem and contingency plan: Cash flow is important to any small company, and getting paid is a primary concern. Howell and Simon said that hasn’t been a problem for them so far, but they’re in a good position to handle slow payments since the business does not have any debt.

That, too, was intentional.

“We wanted to do something that was scalable and sustainable for our lives,” Simon said. “A lot of people invest money in the stock market. We decided to invest in ourselves.”

And they spent the bare minimum, using most of their seed money for technology. Their office is utilitarian at best, furnished through Craigslist.

“I’d rather spend money on stuff that makes us money,” Simon said.

First-year goal: Business has been brisk—enough so that Simon and Howell say they’ve already exceeded their expectations for the year.

Both owners are drawing a salary, and they’ve met their profit goals for 16 weeks in a row—and counting. Now they’re looking to hire someone to help out in the warehouse.  

“We’re basically where we projected we’d be in years two and three,” Simon said.

“We keep raising our personal goals,” Howell chimed in.

The men declined to share specifics of their financial plan, citing competitive factors.

“When you’re starting out with no market share, you don’t need the whole pie,” Simon said, “just a piece of it. We just need to sell more of X than we pay out of Y.”

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Pirates
    Men, congratulations and keep up the good work. Our country was built on small business owners such as yourselves and it make me happy to see you;re succeding.
    • Keep it Up
      Guys,

      Keep up the great work, you have been amazing to work with. We look forward to continuing our relationship for the years to come.

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT
    1. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

    2. If you only knew....

    3. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

    4. The facts contained in your post make your position so much more credible than those based on sheer emotion. Thanks for enlightening us.

    5. Please consider a couple of economic realities: First, retail is more consolidated now than it was when malls like this were built. There used to be many department stores. Now, in essence, there is one--Macy's. Right off, you've eliminated the need for multiple anchor stores in malls. And in-line retailers have consolidated or folded or have stopped building new stores because so much of their business is now online. The Limited, for example, Next, malls are closing all over the country, even some of the former gems are now derelict.Times change. And finally, as the income level of any particular area declines, so do the retail offerings. Sad, but true.

    ADVERTISEMENT