BBC Fasteners had its humble beginnings like many small companies, with an individual who wanted to take the risks of leaving the security of an established company and start a new business. In the late 1950s Jerry Taylor who had previously worked at Marquette Bolt in Chicago, acquired older and very well broken-in upsetters and began hot heading square head blanks, i.e. unthreaded bolts, primarily for one customer. The customer, whose latter-day business has grown into an international concrete forming business, bought the blanks and threaded them in-house. For that reason Jerry named his company Blank Bolt.
As time passed, Blank Bolt grew and bought its own threading machines, bar shears, floor scales and even a lift truck or two. Like the forging machines, all were well out of warranty, some would say escapees from the Industrial Revolution, and were in a state of repair more often than in production. In spite of the mechanical challenges and the usual cash flow constraints that usually eliminate fledgling companies with Darwinian efficiency, Blank Bolt continued to spread its roots into construction hardware such as anchor bolts, tie rods, structural bolts, and railroad fasteners. Growth throughout the early and mid-1960’s meant new relationships with local, privately-owned fastener distributors and hardware stores who serviced heavy industry and steel mills in Chicago, northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
In the latter part of the 60’s change came to Blank Bolt, personified by Gene Sullivan, Jerry Taylor’s son-in-law. Gene took a leave of absence from his other employer to manage the daily manufacturing operations, which gave him the foundation for determining costs and profit margins. In time, Gene bought Blank Bolt and embarked on an aggressive period of growth. During his tenure he invested in new production equipment, developed longstanding relationships with sales representatives, and hired a nucleus of younger people, many of whom still contribute to BBC in production, sales, and management.
Blank Bolt, in the early 1970’s began importing cap screws from Canada for resale to distribution, and the continued growth enabled Gene to move the company to its present location. In order to provide consistently high quality forgings he made a significant investment in our capability to manufacture our forging dies in-house to exacting tolerances. Because he recognized that we would never be known as the cheapest manufacturer, our goal focused on providing the best value available. Distributors whose customers required quality, but at fair prices, found us to be a dependable partner.
The 1980’s brought opportunities as well as challenges. Blank Bolt Corporation acquired the production machinery of another manufacturer in Canton, Ohio and our name evolved into BBC Fasteners as a result of this increase in production capacity. Anticipating the need for verifiable and documented quality, Gene made an important investment in quality with the addition of a Tinius Olson tensile tester, hardness testing, magnetic particle testing, and a qualified staff. In 1988, however, his plans and vision were ended by a terminal illness and BBC entered the current era of third-generation stewardship.
BBC Fasteners today has continued to evolve at an accelerated pace that no doubt would have impressed the previous management and employees. As President, Gene Sullivan, the oldest son, has committed the company to major expenditures in several areas. One of first accomplishments in the early 1990’s was the accreditation of our lab by the A2LA, which eliminates delays that can occur with outside testing. The next growth phase included the purchase of CNC machines coupled with roll threading, for distributors who require the closest tolerances for critical applications.
The centerpiece of our recent growth has been the addition of cold-heading capability.
Although our background had always been in larger hot-forged fasteners we saw the need for a source for cold-headed specials (and standards) with the flexibility of a smaller company. With our four National bolt makers, we offer distributors and private-label manufacturers cold-headed products ranging from 3/8 x 1” through 1-1/4 x 9” along with the metric equivalent size range. Jerry Sullivan, the Vice-President of Manufacturing, is responsible for production on the bolt makers and CNC machines. In response to the need for expedited deliveries and to shorten lead times we have added a second shift. Once again the risks taken and investments made have met with the approval of our customers, who have enabled our growth with their orders.
Our goal of making the best value for the dollar has been well received. Future additions will include induction heating and press forming of more critical fasteners, and a wider variety of cold-headed fasteners. We believe that, with our capabilities for hot heading, cold forming, CNC machining, and in-house testing, we offer our customers a unique resource for their needs.