Fastenal racks up another double-double

It’s called a 20-20 double-double, and among business metrics it’s a grand slam multiplied by a slam dunk. The definition is sales and earnings growth of at least 20% in the same quarter.

Not only did Winona, Minn.-based Fastenal achieve a 20-20 in the first quarter — $769 million in sales, up 20.0%, and $100 million in net earnings, up 26.0% — but the company has scored a 20-20 double-double for eight consecutive quarters.

With that kind of performance, the company has earned the right to talk about the key to growth. One reason is they have picked their market carefully. “It’s big,” the company wrote about the industrial supplies market in its latest earnings announcement. The market’s total sales in North America are north of $160 billion. And that market is fragmented, too.

While 2,611-location Fastenal describes the concept of growth as simple — “find more customers every day and increase your activity with them,” — the execution is “hard work.” Here are the company’s keys to achieving it:

• Recruit service-minded individuals to support its customers and their business;

• Operate in a decentralized fashion to help identify the greatest value for customers;

• Build a great machine behind the store to operate efficiently and to help identify new business solutions; and

• Do these things every day.