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Meet Carol Shackleford - WIFI@Work

Meet Carol. Carol is the President of Sphere 1, Inc., a cooperative of tool, fastener and concrete accessory distributors. Sphere 1 partners with preferred suppliers to bring competitive and sustainable advantages to its member companies. Here's Carol's story of how she got into the screw business and the road to President of Sphere 1.


Over my 31-year career, many folks have asked me “why I chose to be in the fastener industry?” The answer is simple…like many women, we needed a job. I answered an advertisement for a company hiring and researched the products they sold. At that point, I realized that I would be in the screw business!

Prior to starting my fastener career, I worked for a CPA firm and was bored to tears with the constant number crunching and no real face time with anyone. I decided to go into sales. I began my sales adventure at Compass International, a family owned screw business in Southern California. I answered an advertisement for an inside sales position, but was asked to help get their accounts payable department in order, since a gal had recently quit, and bills were stacking up. I made the deal with Compass that if I got the accounting office in order, they would put me in the sales department. I spent five painful months crunching numbers and paying bills and was thrilled when I moved to inside sales.

My first assignment was handling “house accounts” (i.e.: all the accounts that the sales guys didn't want to deal with since they didn’t receive any commission). It’s with a smile on my face that I recall all the wonderful opportunities I was given during my 12-year ride with Compass. They trained me; had me join Toastmasters International to refine my public speaking skills; sent me to business school at Cal-State Fullerton; promoted me four times, and had me traveling all over the world.

At 36, I decided it was time for a change. The opportunity to start Sphere 1 with our founding board of directors landed in my lap. With the amazing commitment and support of our founders, Sphere 1 launched in 1999 with seven members and no suppliers. Today we have 150+ member-owners, 900 nationwide locations, and 104 preferred supplier partners. The fastener industry has been a true blessing in my life. I have worked with and been coached by some of the most talented individuals in our industry, including the opportunity to attend a battery of executive courses at Harvard. I am most grateful for my Sphere 1 board members that have mentored me for 18 years and helped me navigate through what can be a very tough industry for women.

I still laugh, thinking about my kids when they were young and someone would ask, “what does your Mommy do for a living,” and they’d reply, “she’s a screw saleslady.”

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