In a recent interview with TravelingSalesman on Fastenerblog.net, Heidi Volltrauer, our COO and Director of Marketing at Volt Industrial Plastics, and one of Joe Volltrauer’s daughters, was able to share tons of information about her, the company, the past, present, future - plus some interesting behind the scene tidbits you’ll want to read. This interview allows readers to peak behind the Volt curtain.
Check it out:
TravelingSalesman: You and your company have certainly been making a lot of news this year. I have seen pictures on various news and social media sites that Volt Industrial is expanding and adding to your facility. Would you like to fill people in on what is going on and how far along you are in the process?
Heidi: Yes, 2022 has been a busy year for Volt, and busy in the best way possible. 2021 was our best sales year to date so far, so the demand coming in forced us to expand our facility. We are expanding our production, and warehouse space to give our customers the excellent service they have become accustomed to over the last 30 years. We are adding 36,000 square feet to bring our facility square footage over 100,000 square feet total. The expansion itself is complete, but now we have to build the inside of the addition with moving CNC to make room on the production floor for more molding machines, shelving for our warehouse space, and new offices for our customer service team. We could not be more excited about the expansion, and what this means for everyone at Volt moving forward. I know I am excited every time I pull into our parking lot, and I just cannot believe how big our building is now. We will have a ribbon cutting ceremony sometime next year, and I will, of course, keep you posted.
TravelingSalesman: It is great to see a domestic manufacturer of any type of fastener expanding its production capabilities. That suggests to me that you see growth potential for the future. What are you seeing out there?
Heidi: I do feel the pandemic made people look to domestic manufacturers much more than they ever have, and I hope this will continue in the future. We have total control making everything in house, so unless there is a force majeure God forbid, we meet or beat the lead times promised to our customers…did I impress you with my very limited French? As far as potential, I see a lot of potential for plastic fasteners and some new industries opening up for their use, or possibly new to us. Volt’s customer base is mostly distributors, so we are not usually privy to where our products are being used. I do know that the last few trade shows we have exhibited at, we had many more inquiries from companies that did not know about Volt, and some new uses for our products. I wish I had a crystal ball to make my sales forecast but guessing and instincts are going to have to work for now.
TravelingSalesman: You and I have spoken about staffing at your facility. Over the last few years I know a lot of companies have struggled to add additional employees. How is that going for you at Volt?
Heidi: The worst of our staffing issues were actually during, and right after the pandemic. Right now, it seems to be a little better, but it is still hard to find people that are really willing to work, or even show up consistently (New Hires). Our current staff is a great group of hard working people, and it really feels like a big family. I am hoping as we grow, we are able to find the same caliber of employees that we have currently working at Volt.
TravelingSalesman: On another exciting topic, I saw you in Las Vegas on stage as your father Joe was inducted into the National Fastener Hall of Fame. You accepted on his behalf and gave a very wonderful, heartfelt speech. How excited was the Voltrauer family about that development?
Heidi: This topic is very exciting for my Dad especially, and of course the entire family, along with our Volt Family. He has been in the Fastener Industry for such a long time, so for him to be recognized and honored by being inducted into the Fastener Hall of Fame was definitely a career highlight for him. I was so proud to accept the award for him, and share in his excitement for that moment. I had to remind myself it was not mine..LOL. We are going to have a big celebration for him at Volt, and we are going to place the award in a beautiful case in our front entry. He said everyone at Volt helped him get to where he is at, so he wants to share the award with all of us.
TravelingSalesman: Now I have a few personal questions for you. Let me know if you are comfortable answering these, but I’m going to ask them. You have two sisters but you are the only child that joined your father in the fastener business. I have met your family and everyone is very close. But are there ever challenges that are presented to you as you are the one carrying on the family business?
Heidi: I feel like we need to have a drink with this one Marty…LOL.. Well, as with any family there have been challenges along the way working for my family. My parents have always been very fair with everything they have ever provided to all three of us, so with that said…my parents gave each of us a percentage of Volt, so we are all owners. I am the only one that wanted to work at Volt starting in 1992, and my sisters had their own career paths that they have successfully navigated over the last 30 years. Of course, Volt is a big part of all of our lives, and the benefits far outweigh the challenges it has presented over the years. Anyone working in a family business knows exactly what I am talking about, but now I am running the company and my sisters are very supportive of me taking on that role.
TravelingSalesman: I am sure working with your father all these years has been wonderful for you. I know you are very close with him. Are there any insights or commentary you have about being involved with a family run business that you would want to share?
Heidi: Again, working for a family has its challenges, and working for my Dad has been very rewarding along with a lot of challenges. I do think those challenges go both ways, and I am sure he has had many head scratching moments with me…LOL. I have grown up a lot over the years to be where I am now 30 years later, so I need to give my Dad a big pat on the back and probably a hug for his patience… and he also had his not so patient moments of course…then we have family dinner like all is good…that is how you do it…leave work at work.. I have learned so much from my Dad over these last 30 years, and I am still learning and grateful he is still here to ask questions and give his experienced input toward Volt decisions. I would not trade a single day of working for my Dad, and now working with my Dad. I still cannot believe it has been 30 years since I started working for Volt, and I am able to look back and actually see where we started to where we are now….just seems surreal. Very proud of my Dad, and everything he has given to provide for his family…he has always said family is everything. So, I would say any challenges can seem overwhelming in the moment, but in the end when you look back you realize how lucky you are and those challenges were meant to help you grow and have gratitude for time.
TravelingSalesman: What’s next for Volt Industrial?
Heidi: Volt is growing, and the next phase is to grow some more…LOL…I know this is probably a boring answer, but this is the ultimate goal…growth.
TravelingSalesman: You have been doing this for quite a while now. What changes have you seen and what do you see changing in the future as your look into your crystal ball?
Heidi: Well, technology has changed just a little bit…I didn’t even have a cell phone when I started in this industry….can you imagine?? I remember getting our first fax machine, and watching a fax coming in, and then faxing something out was so exciting..LOL. I would say throughout our industry technology has been such a big change….can you imagine a pandemic like Covid in let’s say 1997? Communication is key to doing business in any industry, and with cell phones and zoom calls you can make business happen anywhere now. Also, trade shows have changed, in the fact that we have more of them, and some are on a smaller scale….in 1993 I went to my first trade show, and it was the only trade show..Columbus OH. Everyone was at this one show…the only thing that has not changed is that we can still fill up a bar with fastener people…LOL Even with all of the new technology people still want to see people, so that is a big plus that has not changed. There are a few more women in the industry than when I started at Volt…just a few, meaning a lot more women. Again, bringing up back in the day like an old person, but when I would go to a show in the very beginning I did not see many women at all, but now the industry has a nice balance.
TravelingSalesman: What does Heidi enjoy doing when she is not running Volt Industrial and thinking about fasteners?
Heidi: I love to look at houses on Zillow, and I get emails from Zillow to keep me hooked on looking Daily. Watching the Real Housewives of any city (don’t judge me) It’s a great escape for me, and I know I am not alone out there in fastener land. I do like to go for walks, and I like doing things outside, but not really the outdoorsy kind of person. I do love to cook..that is something my Mother was excellent at, so I like to cook some of the dishes she used to make, and also some of my own creations. During the pandemic I pushed my cooking boundaries a little bit, so I have a lot of fun cooking for family and friends..entertaining in my home. And of course, one of my very favorite things to do is spend time with my little love of my life…Sophia (my fur baby). She turned 11 this year, and she goes with me anywhere they allow it.
Heidi with constant companion Sophia
Back in the day, working in the plant
The Family Volltrauer
Joe Volltrauer surrounded by his proud daughters
Note from TravelingSalesman::
The interview was also featured in the Fastener Technology International magazine.