The Top Questions to Ask a Hook & Loop Fastener Supplier
BY STEVEN POPE
Since the introduction of the category 20 years ago, hook & loop fasteners have become an important part of many
industrial distributors’ product offering. As
the category continues to grow, so has the
demand for unique hook & loop cable ties,
cinching straps, and cut-to-length tapes.
The term “hook & loop” speaks to numerous fastening solutions and for the purposes of this piece, we are focusing solely
on the distinct niche of hook & loop products known as hook &
loop cable ties, straps, and back-to-back style tapes. Two examples
of these types of product lines are SPEEDWRAP® and VELCRO®
brand hook & loop fasteners.
Because everyone understands, for example, the simplicity of a
hook & loop tie, PM’s (Product Managers) can underestimate the
complexity of related hook & loop fasteners. These merchandisers
often fail to ask critical question of their prospective hook & loop
If you are considering adding a line of hook & loop ties, straps, or
tapes or you want to ensure your product offering and supplier partnership has you positioned properly, here’s what you want to know.
1. Target customers?
With each market comes a unique set of hook & loop fasteners.
For example, “integrators” prefer back-to-back style, hook & loop
cable ties because they are gentle on wires and come in a variety
of colors. These installers also need mounting” solutions to route
cords in closets. Maintenance, repair, and operation customers
require heavier duty straps that “cinch down” on large bundles of
cables or hoses. Serving the marine industry? You need polyester
materials. And within just these three market examples, tons of
lengths, widths, colors, and materials offerings exist.
Many hook & loop manufacturers specialize in certain products
or markets, so you want to ensure you are meeting with the one(s)
that are experienced with customers you are targeting.
2. Look at your competitor’s product offering last.
In today’s economic environment, most Industrial Distributors are
operating with a leaner staff. Since 2008, many PM’s are overwhelmed and can be forced to cut corners. For example, if the
PM is adding a new line of hook & loop ties and straps, they tend
to look primarily at their competitors. If you were short on time,
wouldn’t you? As a result, they ask the potential supplier to quote
on those items and little else. This can be a huge mistake, especially with this product category.
Just like your company, your competitor may run lean, and their
merchandisers may only evaluate a product category once every
three years. When it comes to hook & loop fasteners, three years
are like dog years! If your competitor added or last evaluated their
line of hook & loop products three years ago, there might be 20
new products that are better sellers or have replaced them.
For example, your competitor might be selling black fire retardant hook & loop ties, when recently the industry has gravitated
to cranberry as the default color for FR ties and Plenum Rated ties.
Copy your competitor and you are selling yesterday’s news!
3. Ask the supplier: What challenges will we encounter,
I humbly submit to you that this is the number one question PM’s
overlook when talking to their suppliers: “What products do
you think we need, why, and what challenges will my company
encounter after we start selling them?” That’s a million dollar
I should also point out that once you stock these items in this
size, in black, a big customer will call and ask for that item in red.
The request for unique or non-stocked items is going to be your
top challenge — but also one the best opportunities. Once you
force this evaluation process to focus down stream, the real important factors are exposed. For example, how is your prospective
supplier going to help you service those non-stocked or NIC items?
Do they manufacture or are they merely reselling these items to
you? How quickly can they turn around your customer’s request?
Are they geographically desirable? Do they offer drop-shipments
and in a confidential manner? Are their products UL rated and are
they ISO Certified?
Yes, ask your standard supplier evaluation questions about the
sale and product opportunity, profitability, specs, and support. But
when it comes to this niche of hook and loop fasteners for cord,
cable, and hose management, failing to ask the aforementioned
three questions can cause problems for your customers, your buyers, and your customer service department. A truly qualified hook
and loop fastener manufacturer can ensure you are positioned to
succeed for years to come.
Steven Pope has been the owner and Vice President of Speedtech
International, Inc for over 12 years. Speedtech helped pioneer the
development of hook & loop cable management as a product category and is the manufacturer of the SPEEDWRAP® line of hook
and loop products. Questions? Email steve at email@example.com.