Volume 3 | Issue 4 | Year 2000

ISM Fastening Systems is a leading manufacturer of industrial tools, nails, and staples for the carton-closing and wood-to-wood industries.

ISM Fastening Systems is flexing its muscles in the carton-closing and collated fastener industries. “I had previous experience with one of the major U.S. suppliers in the fastening industry, and their evolution was very similar to ISM’s extraordinary potential,” says Vince Fritz, vice president of sales and marketing for ISM Fastening Systems. “ISM was referred to as the sleeping giant in the industry. Now, the giant is awake.” And as the giant awakens, ISM has become the No. 1 independent manufacturer of quality interchangeable collated fasteners in the United States.

Headquartered in Butler, Pa., ISM markets its quality tools and fasteners to the carton-closing and wood-to-wood (construction and furniture) industries, and is committed to being an industry leader by supplying best-in-class fastening solutions to its customers. With three strategic locations in the country offering superior delivery performance and order lead times, and with the most comprehensive product lines in the industry, ISM is clearly positioned to do just that. The company’s product lines range from its hand-held to fully automatic industrial stapling tools for carton-closing applications, as well as nailers, staplers, and collated nails, staples, and finish brads for wood-to-wood applications, including cabinetry, furniture and construction framing, flooring, trim work, vinyl siding, roof and wall sheathing, decking, insulation and roofing.

Old-fashioned Values for New-fashioned Success

ISM’s reputation was built on the solid foundations of long-term customer, supplier and employee relationships nurtured by honesty, fairness and respect. The ISM work environment promotes and encourages employees to participate in innovative ideas to fulfill not only business objectives, but individual objectives as well.

ISM began humbly in 1938 in Havertown, Pa., when young Werner Schafroth developed and patented his idea for a retractable anvil process that fastened corrugated cartons with steel staples. International Staple Company was born, manufacturing tools and staples, with operations in Pennsylvania. The company was acquired in 1961 by C. S. McKee and Company and relocated to its present corporate home in Butler. Today, under Italian ownership, and with more than 550,000 square feet of manufacturing facilities in three plants located in Butler, Herrin, Ill., and South Gate, Calif., ISM is positioned to offer quick delivery response to customers’ requirements. ISM’s 468 employees are an integral part of this dedication.

ISM reaches its end users in the industrial markets through several avenues of distribution, including major national catalog customers for its carton-closing products and a healthy regional U.S. distributor network for both the carton-closing and wood-to-wood operations. “This makes us somewhat unique because some of our competitors sell direct,” says Terry Brady, product manager. “We prefer working with our distributors because they service local customers. Our distributors, therefore, fill a key role for us in this respect by assuring that customers are always satisfied with local quality representation.”

Customers looking to learn more about ISM’s extensive product offering of carton-closing and wood-to-wood tools and fasteners can visit its Web site, www.ismsys.com. ISM continues to develop the site, with plans for new and innovative methods of selecting and ordering its products.

Varied Capabilities

It makes sense to have your own supply of raw materials for the products you manufacture. Although that is not always as easy as it sounds, ISM makes it look easy with its own wire mill ready to deliver steel for the manufacture of ISM’s diverse fastening products. “Since 90 percent of what we do here is make staples and nails, our wire mill lends ISM distinction among our competitors. Most of our competitors don’t break down the rod, so they have to go outside of their company to buy the wire finished to size,” explains Brady. “We draw it to the various diameters we need, anneal it and plate it. And all of that is done in-line. This is important to our customers because it means we have the capability to manufacture a wider variety of products. Some of our competitors might make only a single-crown width of a wide-crown fastener for a given wood-to-wood application, while we make three of them. We make a 15/16-inch crown and two 1-inch crown sizes, varying only in wire size.” With the industry’s widest variety of interchangeable collated fasteners, ISM fasteners will fit virtually any carton-closing or pneumatic wood-to-wood tool in the industry.

“We are the No. 1 independent manufacturer of quality interchangeable collated fasteners in the United States, and that fits in with our ability to do all of this in-house,” says Brady. “Some of our larger distributors not only service the construction and furniture industries but also the packaging industry. We can, therefore, supply all of their needs in one single truck delivery. This equates to cost savings for them, allowing them to turn their inventory more quickly.”

ISM’s Carpenters’ Choice® line of color-coded fasteners is unique in the industry and ensures ease of use and compatibility. “This is another of our distinctions,” says Brady. “Our color-coded system of staples and nails ensures compatibility with virtually any wood-to-wood tool in the industry. For example, our 21-degree round-head strip nail, labeled in tan, is compatible with over a dozen tools manufactured by other companies. Each of our specific fastener product categories has an assigned color. And our ISM pneumatic tools have color-coded labels as well, so they can be matched up with the correct fastener for that tool.” ISM fasteners are interchangeable with more than 95 percent of competitive pneumatic tools in the industry.

“Other companies have tried to color-code their fasteners only by manufacturer, with all the products of a particular manufacturer being the same color,” says Brady. “We code our products by type so that when a customer walks into a store and needs a particular nail or staple, he will be able to get that particular product by color. We have 24 colors representing 24 different wood-to-wood product groups, and within each of the staple groups you have all of the different leg lengths as well.”

The Complete Package

Quality establishes reputation. In the packaging arena, if products are damaged during the shipping and handling process, the only thing customers will remember is the damaged product, no matter how well made it is. This is an important reason why manufacturers choose ISM’s wide-crown staple products for their carton-closing applications: The company keeps products safe in its packages.

In addition to carton staples, ISM manufactures everything from hand-held tools to fully automatic equipment for carton-closing applications. “We have hand-held staplers with a capacity of 1,000 staples, and our automatics hold 5,000 staples per head. There isn’t another staple manufacturer we are aware of that offers automatic stapling equipment for closing corrugated cartons,” says Brady. “Since 1961, ISM has marketed their packaging products through two different lines of distribution, International Staple and Carton Closing Company, which offers customers a choice of who they want to work with.”

ISM’s quality reputation continues by proving time and time again that the company’s wood-to-wood fasteners also provide best-in-class solutions for most wood-to-wood applications and varieties of tools. As ISM continues to develop new products, the company builds in the same high-quality standards for each new product, ensuring their continuing business objectives are fulfilled. And, as a result of their membership in the ISANTA organization (International Staple, Nail and Tool Association), a group designed to promote the use of staples and nails, ISM virtually guarantees that its fasteners meet the standards required by the industry without additional inspection.

Nailed Down

ISM offers 24 different product groups for the wood-to-wood industry, including nails, staples, finishing brads and the tools to drive them. “We have three different collations for framing nailers, including the 21-degree round-head strip, the 28-degree clipped-head strip, and the 33-degree clipped-head strip,” says Brady. “Then we offer coil nails for people wanting to increase their production output since coil tools don’t have to be loaded as often.” ISM continues to bring new products to the market, such as the HG Heavy Galvanized and Pro-Tect 2000 premium-plated nails designed for long-life durability in exterior applications. The company’s new 16-gauge stapler, one of the most powerful tools available in the industry, offers power in a lightweight tool used for home construction applications as well as in hardwood chair framing.

ISM staples are available in an assortment of leg lengths and crown widths and come in 15-, 16- and 18-gauge wire sizes. These products are used heavily in the furniture industry, stick-built home construction industry and the construction of manufactured homes. ISM also offers pneumatic tools to drive all of the fasteners it manufactures.

“At our Butler facility, we just introduced two new products, 16- and 18-gauge no-angle brads for construction,” says Brady. “In the coming months we will also be introducing new 16- and 18-gauge, no-angle brad tools used for construction, and a new lightweight 18-gauge stapler. The ISM 15-gauge DA (diagonal angle) finish nails are another recent product offering produced in our ISM-Herrin facility.”

Future Challenge

ISM is focused on the challenge it set for its future: to continue to be the largest independent manufacturer of interchangeable collated fasteners in the United States, with the most complete offering of tools and fasteners. “ISM Fastening Systems offers the broadest line of quality products available in the industry,” says Fritz. “We help our distributors reduce their dependency on overlapping supply sources by offering a full range of products. Our products fit in virtually all of the pneumatic tools existing in the U.S. market.

“Many ISM distributors have represented our products for more than 60 years. They believe in ISM quality. Our consistent performance, our solid relationships, and confidence in each other will ensure the sleeping giant theory becomes reality,” concludes Fritz.

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