Components for Industry : Your Worldwide Provider of Components

Components For Industry: Your Worldwide Provider of Components

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CFI was founded in 1991 by Kevin Christie. Fresh out of college, Kevin Christie found himself looking for job opportunities. He found his home at a medium-sized fastener distributor in the Chicago area. He spent a few years working with standard fasteners and processing orders until he came across an opportunity to provide custom components. During his time at that company, he had found that the standard system for this industry had a fundamental flaw: communication. Kevin had spent time building relationships through Fax and Telex with the overseas manufacturing plants. Instead of delegating purchasing and product management to a purchasing agent, he took on the responsibility himself. When the day came that an opportunity to provide custom components arose, he sought his friends’ help on the other side of the Globe. This opportunity eventually came to fruition, but he came to an impossible bottleneck as a junior salesman at his company. The company required things to be done by the book, and Kevin wanted to change the book entirely. At this point, Kevin and Annie’s friendship rekindled. Annie and Kevin had been friends since childhood. With Annie’s friendly push, Kevin began pursuing a different career path. Using the relationships he had cultivated over a short time, he became a manufacturing representative. Simply put, this did not last long. Kevin’s aspirations were larger.

Kevin began CFI and recruited Annie to be the co-owner, to run the books’ side of things. Annie always had a knack for numbers, but only when dollar signs were put before them. Together, Annie and Kevin took on an already crowded room in custom and standard fastener distribution. Kevin’s experience with sales and account management led him to become an excellent salesman and owner; however, to the surprise of Kevin (and probably Annie), Annie’s sales abilities were unlike anything he had seen in his then-half-decade of sales experience. Annie and Kevin both had vastly different approaches to business and sales. Kevin, with a calm intensity and logical thinking. Annie, with the ability to form long-lasting connections with strangers from all walks of life. Together, with their incredibly different styles and mindsets, they took the small business and grew it, part-by-part, to what it is today.

Although differing in many ways, one fundamental truth has remained consistent through 30 years of business; a culture, a way of thinking. It is the essence of “what” CFI is and “how” CFI does it. Simply put: friendship, family, partnership. Talk to anyone who has worked with CFI before; they will say the same. It’s an experience unmatched in this industry

To answer the question, why was CFI founded; simply put, there is no reason “why;” rather, “what.” Meaning, what idea pushed Kevin and Annie to create this company. Well, it was the desire to change the way things have been done before. To make things better. To solve a problem that this industry didn’t know it had. Relationships created CFI, relationships have grown CFI, and relationships will continue to keep CFI running and growing.

Company Culture Makes The Difference
Family dynamic. Three generations of Christie’s family and a small, close-knit feeling internally protrudes the company’s walls and welcomes anyone interested in coming in and staying a while. On the business end, diversity: growth internally and growth through the supply chain has kept CFI consistently competitive and vastly diverse over 30 years.

In 1994, after Kevin’s second child’s birth, to help with the business’s growth and management, Kevin recruited his then-retired, ex-chemical engineer father. Ted Christie (fondly known as “Papou,” the Greek name for Grandfather) helped take the company to a new level. Taking Kevin’s streamlined communication idea and bringing it to a new level. The eagerness to help was palpable, and the customers “Papou” brought along have stayed apart of this company’s growth even 27 years later.

Quality Assurance
Quality Assurance means just as much to CFI as it does to their customers. They provide world-class QC service on all products. Components For Industry prides itself on its adherence to strict, established in-house quality guidelines and ISO procedures. CFI’s Quality Assurance process does not end after the inspection process. They offer continued maintenance of part history profiles, related correspondence, and quality inspection levels that guarantees that proper products reach your production line on-time, every time.

In addition to utilizing outside inspection services and vendor audits, CFI cross-checks information with its own in-house quality control lab. Reports available include ISIR (Initial Sample Inspection Reports), PPAP, Chemical Composition, Metallurgical Analysis, and specialized test reports as requested. The CFI quality check and balance system keep material flowing at the highest quality standards. CFI has spared no expense, employing state-of-the-art QC equipment and an experienced staff tasked only with your products and materials’ quality.

CFI provides a wide range of services for its clientpartners in addition to our normal component services. In addition to their primary component engineering and production services, they can provide their partners with a wide variety of secondary services to fulfill a company’s every need. CFI provides services for the automotive, aerospace, appliance, and any other industrial application.

CFI Can Provide The Following Services

  • Optical Sorting
  • Metal Finishing
  • Roll Sorting
  • Heat Treating
  • Electronic Sorting
  • Locking Elements
  • Hand Sorting
  • Drilling & Tapping
  • Bar Coding
  • Shaving
  • Poly Bagging
  • Milling
  • Blister Packaging
  • Logistics Programs
  • Part Cleaning – On and Off-site

CFI’s component engineers have many qualifications, including metallurgy, plastics, part modeling, cost expertise, and more. If you need a component built to spec, CFI’s team of engineers can do it right the first time. Their engineers can design parts for aerospace, automotive, appliance, or any other industry.

CFI also offers reengineering services for existingcomponents to optimize them for cost, material strength, corrosion standards, and more. If you need your part to be stronger, larger, smaller, or more cost-effective, CFI will set their team of engineers on it to meet your specific needs.

Who Is An Ideal Customer?
CFI is your Worldwide component specialist, providing custom designed products for standard offshelf components needs. Easily put, an ideal customer for CFI is anyone willing to understand the intangibles in fastener and component distribution. And further than that, anyone willing to give the opportunity to let them show how they manage business.

Anyone who needs immediate access to in-house manufacturing capabilities, direct mill runs, and technical expertise on standard or special components.

  • Cold Heading
  • Springs
  • Screw Machine Parts
  • Purchasing Programs
  • Free Design & Problem Solving
  • All Secondary Operation
  • Components Assemblies
  • Specialized Packaging
  • Nuts, Washers, Stamping, Pins
  • Direct Import
  • In-house Sorting Capabilities

Change & Endurance
Every challenge is an opportunity. Through 30 years of business, one learns how to think quickly and adapt to the environment. The pre-COVID world and the post-COVID world will be two very different things. It’s a testament to CFI’s strength and ability to have stood the test of time that so many other companies of similar stature had not endured.

Doing More With Less
With the help of Computer Insights, CFI transported itself from the 20th century to the 21st. With the technology found in CI’s The Business Edge™, CFI has found the ability to manage inventory and financials and provide quotations at a few clicks. Prior to this system, known as CFI’s dark ages by some of the long-time employees, the processes that now take only a few seconds would take upwards of an hour. At the core of every business’s growth is finding efficiencies. Without Computer Insights’ help to integrate, upgrade, and teach, we would not be the company we are today.

This article appeared in Distributor’s Link Magazine, Spring 2021

For More Information

Annie Patrick
Components For Industry
1351 Armour Blvd
Mundelein, IL 60060
Phone: 1-847-918-0333

Dennis R. Cowhey
Computer Insights, Inc.
108 South Third Street
Bloomingdale, IL 60108-2912
Phone: 800-539-1233
Fax: 630-893-4020