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Family Business Success Story - Knapp Fasteners

by Rick Baker
On Mar 17, 2013


Isn't it tough to argue with a success rate like that!


And, that's just the introduction to the Knapp Fasteners' family-business success story. 

Jenny Knapp presented her family business story at our Centre For Family Business [CFFB] February breakfast event. Knapp Fasteners is a successful local company and a member of CFFB. CFFB is a local association, created by members to support, educate, & energize people who work at family businesses. 

Jenny stepped up to the plate last month, volunteering to present her family-business story to CFFB members and corporate partners.

Jenny's story 'hit it out of the park': a perfect mix of humour, family and interpersonal sincerity, and business savvy. 

Here a sample of the highlights Jenny shared as she told the Knapp Fasteners' story:

  • in business for 26 years. [Well done!]
  • Knapp Fasteners is a distributor; they package and resell fasteners. [here's a link to Knapp Fasteners website]
  • Jenny studied business at our fine, local, Conestoga College.
  • Just after they were married, Jenny and her husband Jim founded Knapp Fasteners.
  • The business started small - in 1987, with a $15,000 loan in hand, they rented 1000 square feet of space on Colby Drive, Waterloo.
  • Knapp Fasteners, like many start-ups, had to figure out how to manage the cash-flow squeeze...suppliers wanted up-front payment while clients wanted 30 days to pay...the Knapps solved that problem [This is an inspiring fact, of benefit to other CFFB members who struggle with cash-flow squeeze.]
  • Parents helped out...it was family effort from the start.
  • Knapp Fasteners had a great first year, with sales results exceeding forecast by a factor of two.
  • But...quick, early growth brought some serious problems.
  • Knapp Fasteners took a big hit in their first year of operation when one of their clients went bankrupt...again, Knapp Fasteners' ability to manage this problem provided another lesson of value to the audience. The solution involved Jim's brother Dave, who loaned money to cover the problem. What a vote of confidence...and a terrific example of how families inject value into our local business sector. Many years later, in 2010, Dave joined the company...he now works with Jenny and Jim.
  • Jenny and Jim worked 70 hours per week for the first few years...that confirms the commitment required to establish a family business and make sure it is on firm ground.
  • Knapp Fasteners has grown steadily and moved twice: to Bathurst Drive in Waterloo in 1989 and to the present location at 520 Boxwood Drive, Cambridge in 2010.
Jenny & Jim Knapp
Knapp Fasteners' culture promotes strong work ethic. Several people have joined and grown with the company, including family members and employees` children, who have enjoyed summer jobs at Knapp Fasteners. 'Knapp people' have friendly team competitions...clients and suppliers help pick the names for the teams...and the winning team receives a trophy at year-end. That's just one of the reasons why Knapp Fasteners is a great place to work.
Here are a few pictures of Knapp Fasteners' current home - a fine example of what 2 family businesses can build when they put their minds to it (Knapp's new home was built by Schiedel Construction, another successful, local family business).
Our community recognizes the contribution the Knapps are making: the Knapps and their company have been nominated for several awards.

In 2012, Jenny and Jim Knapp were honoured by the college they attended in the mid-1980s. They received the Conestoga College Alumni of Distinction in Business award. 

Congratulations, Jenny & Jim...on a family business well run and a family-business story well told!

Thank you for sharing your story at CFFB.



Family Business and CFFB

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