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Stocks F / Fastenal Company
|Subject: Re: How wide is the moat?||Date: 7/10/2007 2:16 AM|
|Author: Metal27||Number: 144 of 154|
Fasteners and everything else FAST sells are indeed commodity items. But as my friend pointed out, the ability to consistently deliver the correct fastener when it is needed is what sets FAST apart. The example he gave was of a peculiar E-ring which even the vehicle's manufacturer could not identify, let alone supply. FAST did both, quickly, and ended up with a large order that kept the vehicles running.
When you can rely on a supplier to help you in a situation like that, they have built a wide moat. All a would-be competitor can offer is lower price and promises. What good are lower prices when the promised part is not delivered and your operation is affected? People can get fired for switching to a supplier who causes delays.
I suggest you take a look at the FAST catalog--their inventory is huge! The investment required to obtain and match their inventory would be considerable and the payoff uncertain.
FAST does have a few problems, principally their ties to the very cyclical construction and automotive businesses. But FAST is an excellent example of how consistently good management can provide a really valuable service at a profit and create a niche for itself in the process.
(yes, I own the stock)
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