Winona, MN-based Fastenal — No. 10 on Industrial Distribution’s 2016 Big 50 List — has been at the forefront of industrial vending ever since it pioneered the offering in 2008. It’s stayed a step ahead other industrial distributors and service providers that offer the technology by remaining innovative, and the company’s latest innovation looks to take vending to the next level.
In an effort to place industrial products ever closer to customers, Fastenal has launched FAST P.O.D., or Products-on-Demand, essentially a mini-Fastenal store that complements the company’s 2,500+ branch locations nationwide.
“The original idea was to service markets that were too small for Fastenal to put a brick-and-mortar store, but still offer some of our products,” says FAST Solutions executive president Gary Polipnick.
At first glance, the FAST P.O.D. looks like a typical blue shipping container. But inside is essentially an unmanned hardware store, filled with the company’s rapid-selling FAST Solution vending machines that dispense a range of industrial products from hand and power tools, safety gloves and batteries to cutting tools. Providing a secure, controlled environment, the P.O.D.s can be placed at a job site, manufacturing facility or rural location where the company doesn’t have a physical presence.
The P.O.D.s have an obvious appeal for contractors and industrial facilities, but the company also is testing out offering them to the general public. It’s P.O.D. near the Holiday Inn in Winona was the company’s first of the sort, while it has eight of them set up at contractor sites.
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