Andrea Bourdelais is the president and majority owner of Level 1 Fasteners, Inc., founded in 1959 by John E. Bourdelais and Jack Bourdelais in a garage in Huntington Park, California, now located in Huntington, West Virginia. Since its inception in 1959, Level 1 Fasteners, Inc. has produced high-quality fasteners for aerospace, defense, medical and oil and gas industries. They began in the aerospace community in Southern California, putting fasteners onboard the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, as well as countless space stations, satellites and aircraft.
In the 1970s, their customer base shifted from aerospace to defense and oil and gas. They currently have fasteners on most aircraft carriers and submarines built since the early 1970s. Level 1 Fasteners manufactures high quality, fully traceable fasteners. Traceable means that every part they make can be traced not only back to Level 1 Fasteners but actually to the company that forged the material that the fastener was made from. In the past three years, Level 1 Fasteners and its management company, High Performance Fasteners, had doubled its revenue and is projected to double again in the next three years.
Bourdelais runs the business with her brother Ted Bourdelais, who is the shop manager, and her father, Jack Bourdelais, who is retired. Bourdelais is the current president and majority owner of Level 1 Fasteners, as she is learning how to manage the business with the help and support of Jack and Ted.
Bourdelais talked with Jim Matuga, host of the Positively West Virginia Podcast, about her family business, the growth it has had these past few years and her advice to young entrepreneurs.
What is your 30-second pitch for Level 1 Fasteners?
“We make fasteners, usually nuts and bolts but also threaded rods or threaded studs. Mostly these nuts, bolts and rods go on to submarines, aircraft carriers or into the oil field. We make high-quality parts that are considered traceable, which means we can trace back to our company and the whole manufacturing process. If there is a problem, we can trace it all the way back to the lot it was made from,” said Bourdelais.
How many employees do you have?
“Right now, we have ninety-nine employees. When I started three years ago, we had fifty-six, so we really have almost doubled in employees as well as in our sales,” explained Bourdelais.
What is the impetus for that growth?
“We mostly sell to the United States Defense System and the government had a sequestration that ended in 2016. They were super slow and weren’t building submarines, aircraft carriers or even refurbishing any of the Navy fleets. Once that ended in 2016, they were scheduled to have more submarines and aircraft carriers built, so that is where we are seeing this big drive. They doubled production in the past three years and they are going to double it again when Columbia-class submarines really get going into production. This should carry us into the next several decades. The new submarines and aircraft carriers are being built along with some old ones that are getting refurbished. We are projecting a pretty good, foreseeable future,” said Bourdelais.
What is a leadership take away from the pandemic?
“We really prepared early. I looked to see what our customers were doing and we kind of followed their lead. I think we stepped up really early, sanitizing everything, getting people to wear masks, sending people home if they were sick and taking temperatures on a regular basis,” said Bourdelais.
Bourdelais was a guest on the Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to her full podcast here.
PWV QUICK BITS | LEVEL 1 FASTENERS
- RECOMMENDED BOOK: Leadershift by John C. Maxwell
- RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Our workers and machines
- PIECE OF ADVICE: “Keep an open mind, keep changing, and keep growing,” advised Bourdelais.
This article was written by the InnerAction Media staff.