Joining the World of Hook and Loop Fasteners
Kara Hendrick, WIFI Board of Directors
As one of the relatively “newbies” to not only the WIFI Board but also the world of fasteners, I truly feel as though I learn something new about this ever-changing world each day. To me, the manufacturing industry is both fascinating and fulfilling, and while many people don’t necessarily think of the word "marketing" when it comes to manufacturing, this is where I got my first start, working for my father’s circuit board manufacturing company. With a passion for both combining digital and marketing, I had the opportunity to help revamp their website, marketing and sales tactics to better implement an updated marketing approach for today's world….it was thrilling. Combining “older-school” knowledge with new technologies? Nothing better!
Marketing activities back then consisted of brochures, direct mailers and tradeshows (which are great!) but we found that by optimizing our website and integrating our engineers, plant managers, technicians and operators into our digital marketing strategy, we were able to have much more success. To me, the different digital marketing opportunities for manufacturing are endless. When you think about the concept of storytelling and content creation, the manufacturing (and fastener) space is brimming with it.
Fast forward to 2014, I joined the fastener world and began my career at Velcro Companies, the premiere inventors and manufacturers of hook and loop fasteners. Similar to brands such as Xerox®, Kleenex®, and BAND-AID®, we work very hard to protect our trademark and brand. Working for the VELCRO® Brand, consists of wearing many different hats.
My current job as the Manager of Digital Marketing, entails global social media management, content creation (blog posts, videos, email blasts), global programs, lead generation, marketing automation initiatives and event marketing. I work with both the B2B and B2C strategic business units and have the opportunity daily to educate and learn about the different applications of hook and loop fasteners.
Through this digital space we are able to connect with consumers, distributors, customers and the general public---learning new ways that people are using our fasteners and more. I have the chance to work directly with the retailers selling our products, and also the OEMs who are integrating our applications into their products.
There is truly never a dull day!
However, throughout the different WIFI and Young Fastener Professional events, I learned that hook and loop fasteners are in fact a minority in the massive industry of fasteners. Through joining this community, I’ve been able to learn so much about nuts, bolts, rivets….. you name it. To return the favor, I thought I’d share a bit more about my world, including some fun hook and loop fastener facts:
Back in the 40’s, it all began with a burdock burr…when a Swiss engineer George de Mestral, and his dog crossed paths on a hunting trip in the Alps. Inspired by how the burr “hooked” to his dog’s fur, he created the world's first hook-and-loop fastener. Originally envisioned as a closure for apparel, over the last 70 years, VELCRO® Brand fasteners have become a necessity in a wide range of industries, including transportation, medical, packaging, military, to helping hang things in your house!
● There is actually no such thing as “Velcro”. Or “Velcro-ing” a shoe. Only authentic VELCRO® Brand products and applications are able to use the famous trademark.
● While we manufacture products all over the world, our largest location and plants are in New Hampshire.
● In 1969 our fasteners accompanied Neil Armstrong to the moon bringing hook and loop to greater visibility all over the world.
● In 2014 we produced enough fastening tape to circle the Earth 100 times!
With our product technologies always changing and the world of digital marketing constantly evolving, I look forward to continuing to learn more and more in the fastener journey.
Kara works as the Manager of Digital Marketing for the innovative Velcro Companies. In her role supporting both the B2B and B2C business units, she oversees the implementation and management of the global digital marketing strategy in the US, EMEA, LATAM and APAC markets, while helping develop new social outreach programs and opportunities to grow the iconic VELCRO® Brand and connect with consumers.
Prior to joining Velcro Companies, Kara worked as the Digital Media and Web Community Strategist for the Center for Women & Enterprise, a nationally known nonprofit with five entrepreneurial centers in the New England area and as Market Development for RBB Systems, the premiere manufacturer of small batch electronics. Kara is currently pursuing her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at Babson College. She has had the privilege of serving on the WIFI Board of Directors since January 2017.