January 29, 2013 12:00AM
After receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Pittsburg State University, Ken Nance had a decision to make.
“I was either going to get a Ph.D. or go to law school,” Nance said.
Then a third option presented itself.
“Then I found Fastenal,” Nance said. “I should say, Fastenal found me.”
Fastenal, one of the nation’s leading distributors of construction supplies, hired Nance in 1992 as a trainee in its Joplin office. Twenty years and many promotions later, Nance is now the company’s executive vice president. In that role, he oversees more than 1,250 branches, eight regional vice presidents, more than $500 million in assets and $1.6 billion in revenue.
“I owe it all to Pittsburg State University,” Nance said. “I would not be where I am today without Pitt State.”
Nance was back on PSU’s campus on Jan. 29 to take part in an announcement of a “special relationship” between PSU and Fastenal – an announcement that culminated with the presentation of a $10,000 gift from Fastenal to PSU’s Kelce College of Business.
Paul Grimes, dean of the Kelce College of Business, said the gift is one example of Fastenal’s relationship with PSU.
“I’ve always been impressed with the approach Fastenal takes when it comes to the university,” Grimes said. “They did not want to just come here and hire our students or take them to internships. They wanted to give something back. That is what we are here today to celebrate. This partnership will be sowing seeds that we’ll be reaping in the future as we go forward.”
Joe Stephens, Fastenal regional vice president, said the quality of students at Pitt State is why the company chose to invest in the Kelce College of Business.
“At Fastenal, we place a high value on four specific principles,” Stephens said. “They are ambition, innovation, teamwork and integrity. You look at those values and you align that with what Pitt State does in the educational process, and there is some very nice synergy there.
“The work that you do at Pitt State,” Stephens said, “is recognized by our company as critical to our success. That is what today is all about.”
James Blades, a PSU graduate and Fastenal district manager in St. Louis, said during Tuesday’s presentation that he often thinks of Pitt State when recruiting potential employees.
“In my current position, I have the opportunity to recruit and visit many career fairs,” he said. “Throughout all of that, you can clearly see the quality of students right here at this university.”