In a previous life, I flew into a New England city on a weekly basis. On a lonely back road, I would pass a Fastenal store. I never thought twice about it.
For seven years I passed that solitary Fastenal store -- in the dot-com era so many businesses that opened with great expectations quickly closed with great disappointment. Nothing fancy or ostentatious about the store; just a utilitarian building. But the parking lot was often full.
Back then I had no idea what Fastenal did, nor whether it was publicly traded. My assumption was it had something to do with fasteners. I envisioned the ad campaign: "Fastenal: We fasten everything." I'm smart that way.Little did I know that there were many more of those unobtrusive Fastenal stores, and that they had lots more than hardware and fasteners. The company sells industrial equipment, construction tools, safety materials and a lot more. Years later, after I devoted myself to full-time portfolio management, I learned about Fastenal. It's not one of those companies that you hear about much, but it has a deep footprint among those taken-for-granted people who do physical labor, such as building and improving things. Eventually, like a "channel checker," I wanted to find out the inside scoop on the business. I followed the shares for six months, looking at a potential investment from the perspective of a covered option writer. I bought in June 2013 and am currently on my fifth lot of shares.