The Best of Both Worlds
Cascade Nut & Bolt combines old-school service with new-school tech to keep their customers covered
Located just outside Oregon’s historic state capital in Salem, Cascade Nut & Bolt (CNB) is a nod to a bygone era. Its rows of fasteners, screws, bolts and safety equipment conjure memories of a hometown hardware store, an image that is bolstered by the company’s commitment to customer relationships and the value of service.
“I like to think of us as an old-school operation,” says Tom Boline, owner of CNB. “But then again, we also ship our products as far as Dubai. So, we’re quite modern as well.” Boline uses this spirit of customer service to build relationships around the globe, while still maintaining the hometown essence that makes CNB unique. Cascade Nut & Bolt boasts millions of products in its two 20,000-square-foot buildings, an impressive inventory that helps the staff quickly and efficiently get the right parts to their clients in a short period of time.
Their old-school/new-school business model takes the convenience of a general store and melds it with technology that can manufacture, promote and ship anything they don’t have in stock.
From Bytes to Bolts
Boline’s career in construction supplies began quite by accident. He was selling computers door-to-door in the late 1980s when a sale at a large construction firm would change his life.
“I was sitting at my desk early one morning when I got a call out of the blue. The guy on the other line asks ‘Tom, are you happy selling computers?’ ” he recalls. It was the owner of the large firm to which he’d recently sold computers.
The next week, Boline started to work for him.
Starting at the ground level, Boline set out to learn the literal nuts and bolts of the construction industry. Within three years, he was on the company’s leadership team. When the business was sold to a much larger one, Boline decided to open his own company and his sales team followed.
“I was incredibly lucky for the experience I gained, and for the strong team that came along with me. We built CNB together,” he says.
Boline took what he’d learned in the construction industry and as a salesman, and set out to revolutionize the hardware customer experience.
“We’ve never looked back,” he says.
The (Literal) Nuts and Bolts
Boline is a man who understands the large importance of small things—like bolts. “Nuts and bolts haven’t changed in, literally, hundreds of years. But they are so important to any construction project,” he says. “The wrong bolts can stop a job.”
“These days, everyone needs a product immediately,” he says. “But very few people understand that most suppliers must go through layers of people—other suppliers and vendors—to get the part. It’s an incredibly wasteful and time-consuming process. I wanted to change it.”
Boline decided to cut out the middle man, by becoming the middle man.
“We invest in our inventory. We invest in our people. We hire our neighbors. And you can be confident that we’ll have it when you need it.”
Tom Boline, Owner, Cascade Nut & Bolt
He found his inspiration in the general stores of decades past. “I decided that inventory was important to those clients looking for that one particular bolt. I organized our warehouse like a general store with everything in view on shelves,” he says. Having stock on hand, he thought, would reduce his frustration with the supply chain status quo. He was right.
“We don’t make our clients wait. We don’t have to order parts. We have what you need right on the shelf,” he says.
Boline prides his company on being client-focused. “We take the time to listen to our customers,” he says, adding that most of his customers are repeat business. “We make it easy to do business with us by staying small and stocking big.”
Stocking big has filled his company’s warehouse with nearly every type of washer, nut, all-thread rod, anchor bolt, screw, pin, socket and hardware one might need. “We have over two million nuts and bolts in stock at any time,” he says, adding, “Our relationships with our suppliers are as important as our relationships with clients. We rely on them to keep our shelves stocked.”
CNB carries products from noted brand, such as SOG, Leatherman, 3M, IRWIN TOOLS, Lenox, Edge Eyewear and Ledlenser. It’s an impressive list that, for the most part, covers all the fastener bases. In the rare case that they don’t have something in stock, the company’s relative size allows it to maintain operational agility to provide customers with innovative solutions. Its full-service, onsite milling capabilities allows it to manufacture low-carbon plate and stainless steel parts to exact customer specifications.
Custom anchor bolts are one of the company’s specialties. “Let’s say the client needs a standard right-angle bent part, a double-end stud with a square plate washer and a nut tack welded, or a custom tie-rod assembly, including the forged clevises and turnbuckles. We can make that,” says Boline.
The company uses raw materials that are domestic steel lot-traceable and meet ASTM F1554, grade 36, grade 55 and grade 105 specifications.
“If we don’t have something in stock, we can find it,” says Boline. It’s this can-do attitude that keeps customers coming back.
A Future, Forged
With a staff of more than 40, Boline is a Salem-born business owner dedicated to building relationships and creating jobs in his hometown. His philosophy is that business practices that are good for the bottom line are also good for the community.
“We invest in our inventory. We invest in our people. We hire our neighbors. And you can be confident that we’ll have it when you need it,” he concludes.