Fastenal Set To Upend Industrial
Vending Again With New PODs
By Mike Hockett, Editor
Winona, MN-based Fastenal — No. 10 on Indus- trial Distribution’s 2016 Big 50 List — has been at the forefront of industrial vending ever since
it began offering it 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 comple-
ments 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
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.
“Our hope is that the average Joe
that needs industrial or safety supplies might see this as a way to get
what they need if there’s not a local
store,” Polipnick says.
The P.O.D.s are assembled in Winona, shipped to the
customer’s location and serviced the same way other
customers are. The nearest local Fastenal store drives the
service side of things, with a Fastenal rep monitoring the
product to see what needs restocked and how often.
“I absolutely see these things on manufacturing sites as
well,” says vice president of FAST Solutions Kevin Fitzger-
ald. “If their space is limited, we could place them outside
the facility. The possibilities are really endless.”
Fastenal’s vending machines are basically everywhere.
The company surpassed 60,400 installed by mid-October.
But they aren’t always great for a contractor site such as
construction, where they would be subject to damage
and the outdoor elements. A major feature of the P.O.D.s
— available 20-foot and 40-foot versions — is secure ac-
cess in a controlled environment, providing peace of mind
for the user. A P.O.D. can be set to remain open during
working hours, and can still be accessed outside of that
Fastenal’s POD line card