Categories Earnings Call Transcripts, Industrials

Fastenal Company (FAST) Q2 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

FAST Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Fastenal Company (NASDAQ: FAST) Q2 2021 earnings call dated Jul. 13, 2021

Corporate Participants:

Taylor Ranta Oborski — Financial Reporting and Regulatory Compliance Accountant

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Analysts:

David Manthey — Baird — Analyst

Ryan Merkel — William Blair & Company — Analyst

Josh Pokrzywinski — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Nigel Coe — Wolfe Research, LLC — Analyst

Chris Snyder — UBS Investment Bank — Analyst

Ryan Gunning — Jefferies LLC — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Greetings and welcome to the Fastenal Company 2021 Second Quarter Earnings Results Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Taylor Ranta of the Fastenal Company. Thank you. Please go ahead.

Taylor Ranta Oborski — Financial Reporting and Regulatory Compliance Accountant

Welcome to the Fastenal Company 2021 second quarter earnings conference call. This call will be hosted by Dan Florness, our President and Chief Executive Officer and Holden Lewis, our Chief Financial Officer. The call will last for up to one hour and will start with a general overview of our quarterly results and operations with the remainder of the time being open for questions and answers. Today’s conference call is the proprietary Fastenal presentation and is being recorded by Fastenal. No recording, reproduction, transmission or distribution of today’s call is permitted without Fastenal’s consent. This call is being audio simulcast on the Internet via the Fastenal Investor Relations homepage investor.fastenal.com. A replay of the webcast will be available on the website until September 1, 2021 at midnight Central Time.

As a reminder, today’s conference call may include statements regarding the Company’s future plans and prospects. These statements are based on our current expectations and we undertake no duty to update them. It is important to note that the Company’s actual results may differ materially from those anticipated. Factors that could cause actual results to differ from anticipated results are contained in the Company’s latest earnings release and periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and we encourage you to review those factors carefully.

I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Dan Florness.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Taylor, and good morning everybody and thank you for joining our second quarter earnings call. Similar to the last five quarters I’m [Phonetic] going to start with a few stats on our COVID experience. So to-date, we’ve had 1,950 cases of COVID-19 among our employee base, so about 9.5% of our employees have contracted the virus over the last five quarters.

Looking at it from a pattern standpoint and as we discussed in previous quarters, our worst quarter was the fourth quarter of 2020. November of 2020 was our worst month. But in the fourth quarter we averaged about 60 cases per week. In the first quarter of 2021 that dropped to 44. In the second quarter that dropped to 20 cases per week and I am pleased to say in the month of June, we averaged eight cases per week, bit about 30 cases throughout the Company. So very good patterns, not unlike what we’re seeing, generally speaking, in society, especially in the countries in which the bulk of our employees are located.

If I — one of the things that should jump out at a reader of our earnings release or in some of the commentary, one of the struggles that we are seeing that is not unique to Fastenal, I suspect, most companies will cite this, is difficulty in hiring the addition of people as we’re reemerging from the shutdown economy of 2020 and the first part of 2021. And there is, I think, three distinct subsets that drive it, at least in our case. As you all know, historically we are a promote from within culture and we believe in starting early in a person’s career that promote from within culture. And we hire a lot of part-time employees and those part-time employees — a very high percentage of those employees are full-time students. And we think of it as, in most cases, in a perfect world, you’re not hiring a part-time employee, you are hiring a future full-time employee. And we provide a tremendous amount of flexibility to folks early in their career. We focus very acutely on four-year state colleges and two-year technical colleges. And so in a period where schools are closed and people are studying remotely, a big chunk of our recruiting base has vaporized from the areas that we traditionally approach and that has created some challenges for us. I’m pleased to say those challenges have lessened over time, but they’re still pretty acute. A fair number of our part-time employees, especially in our distribution centers, a lot of them we represent a second job. I heard an example the other day of individuals that had pulled back their hours with us because they hold a second job because they have a child in college. It’s a great way to earn extra money. We’re incredibly flexible with employees and on scheduling. But their employer has gone to mandatory overtime and so they just don’t have the hours to work for us. So that’s creating some challenges.

The third, and this is more across, when I think of generally speaking, our branch and Onsite network, we are seeing some geographic biases in the numbers as far as country by country and state by state in the United States, depending on how open or close the society is, what impediments there are to hiring from the standpoint of public policy. We are seeing some patterns there. We are seeing no meaningful pattern from a racial perspective of hiring. The progress we’ve made over the last decade, we continue to see that throughout the business. Where we have seen a stark weakness, and I talked about this at our April Annual Meeting, is on the gender side. We’ve seen the application side of the business during 2020 and this has continued in 2021, our female applications are down about a third from what we’ve seen in recent years. And we’ve seen worse than historical patterns as far as turnover. In environment where society is shut down and a lot of schools and daycares closed, we’ve seen a dramatic impact and that’s fallen largely on the female portion of our employee base and our potential employee base. And we’re making efforts to improve that, but they are difficult.

And — but with that, I’ll switch over to the flipbook. Sales to manufacturing and construction customers grew 21.5% in the second quarter. There was, as expected, fall-off in the pandemic-related sales, frankly a good thing, and — which resulted in overall flat sales performance from a year-over-year basis. I believe we continue to manage costs really well. I’m so impressed with the team throughout Fastenal and in our ability to managing expenses well. We did have some resets and Holden talked to that in the earnings release. Branch and Onsite, our incentive comp, there is a reset going on there because a year ago a lot of customers were idled or shut down and a lot of our surge business was direct container shipments — not container shipments, excuse me, direct pallet and truckload shipments. And — so it was a different cost structure. So I’m pleased to say our branch and Onsite business is coming back in a resounding fashion and we’re paying people for that.

We’re also seeing incredible reset in the healthcare. I believe healthcare expenses were up about 25% this quarter. And that’s really a function of — we’re self-insured when it comes to healthcare. People weren’t using it a year ago. They’re using it now. So we’re seeing a reset there. Where we’re seeing some partial resets are things like travel. In the — our air fare was up about 10-fold from second quarter 2020 to second quarter 2021. Now, before you read anything into that that’s meaningful. We’re still 82% below where we were in 2019. We don’t know ultimately where that number settles on. The number I’ve challenged our team with is with some of the technology tools we have in our — and some cultural changes as far as working from a distance and communicating from a distance, I do believe that 30% to 40% reduction is an achievable number. And time will tell if that — if I’m correct or I am full of it [Phonetic]. But I believe it’s something that will be achievable. Right now we’re about 80% down.

Price actions to date have largely matched cost increases. There is a ton of inflation going on. There is inflation because of disruption in shipping, i.e. the cost of moving a container and — this is a pretty public information, so I don’t need to cite figures, but it’s gotten really expensive to move a container across the ocean and it takes a longer time than it did 12 and 18 and 24 months ago because of all the congestion at the ports. And so massive inflation going on. We’ve been largely able to move with that.

The higher gross margin we experience is really about product mix. The fact that the organization is moving more products and more stuff going through our manufacturing, there is the utilization of the corporate overhead, organizational leverage going on. And within the safety product category, there is a meaningful shift in customer mix. And when you’re shipping truckloads of product versus pieces of product, the gross margin profile is different and we’re seeing that playing through the numbers.

The final point talks, and I see the team put it in here a few times the conversation, I think it’s on both pages, about our digital footprint. I guess they want to make sure Dan didn’t screw up and miss it. But if you think about the Digital Footprint we’re talking about, so about 42% of our sales are part of what we call our Digital Footprint. It starts with FMI. In FMI there is a device component and there is a mobility component. The device component is our vending machines that we’ve talked about for the last decade. It also includes in growing importance over the last 12 to 15 months, our digitally enhanced, our technology enhanced bins where the bins tell us when they’re hungry just like the vending machine tells us when it’s hungry and needs to be fed. And — so about 21% or so, 22% of our business is going through one of those devices. Another about 10% is going through what we call FASTStock. That’s where the mobility that we deployed, we are out there scanning bins. And that’s really about a productivity play in the short term, but I believe in ability to grow faster in the long term. And on Page 7 — excuse me, Page 4 in the earnings release Holden has a great table in there that lays out the FMI pieces, the devices as well as the FASTStock.

The third piece is looking at e-comm and that’s growing quite dramatically and I’ll touch on more of that in a second. But about 10% of that is outside the FMI world. So you add those three pieces together, about 42% of our sales is now digitally connected and the vast majority of that is where it’s FMI and the importance of FMI. The goal should be an easier way to order. The goal should be if it’s recurring business, why the heck are you ordering it and why don’t you have a partner that supplies it when you need it, and that’s what we endeavor to be, a great supply chain partner for our customer.

Flipping to Page 4 of the book. Pleased to say our Onsite signings ticked up again in the second quarter of ’21. We had 87 signings. That’s our best quarter since COVID started and of equal importance it’s about participation. How many of our district business units are signing an Onsite? We had 30% of our district business units sign an Onsite. We haven’t been north of 30% since the first quarter of 2020. So not only are the numbers strong, it’s broadly dispersed across our business, so there’s great participation. We ended the quarter with 1,323 active sites, just over 9% increase from second quarter last year, and our daily sales in the Onsite business grew just over 25%. So very, very strong performance there and it’s improving and that builds upon our ability to engage with our customer and grow the business long term.

FMI, I touched on that yesterday, or, excuse me, on the last slide and I did touch on it yesterday with the Board, that’s a different matter. There is 5,843 devices, that’s a weighted number, signed in the second quarter. That’s 91 per day. Similar to Onsites, a nice improving strong performance. Our ending installed base was up just over 9% from June of last year. And if you look at it — and I’m going to flip to some points on that table on Page 4 of the earnings release. So sales through the devices are up 40.4%. Sales through FASTStock is up 148%. And you combine the two together, FMI grew 61.4%, really excited about what we have going there as far as momentum.

E-commerce, 53% increase. Large customer oriented EDI was up 51%. That’s about the economy. That’s about strengthening of our existing customer base and we’re seeing it — we’re seeing it happen play out right there. When I look at web sales being up 61%, that’s about habits changing. That’s about how our customers are engaging with us. So two dynamics going on, both very positive from the standpoint of how our customers are engaging with us and how is our underlying customer doing as far as business. I’m going to skip the Digital Footprint since I covered that pretty thoroughly already.

And flipping to Page 5, this is a new table I believe Holden plans to have it in here in this quarter, I suspect next quarter, maybe fourth quarter. But it’s really doing a quick snapshot of understanding if we ignore the noise of COVID-19 for a second and just say what did our business do in the second quarter of 2019, what did it do in the second quarter of 2021, some things that stand out. Our margin is down about 40 basis points in that period and that’s about the shift that we’ve talked about in prior quarters of our business to more of an Onsite, a higher proportion of our business being Onsite where it’s larger customer, larger transaction, better expense leverage. And you see that expense leverage play out in the operating and administrative expenses being down 140 basis points in that same time period. So our operating income was up 100 basis points. Pleased to say we had great incremental margin, about 31%, in that time frame. And with that — and we generated good cash.

With that, I’ll turn it over to Holden.

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Great. Thanks, Dan. Now turning to Slide 6. As indicated, our sales were basically flat in the second quarter of 2021. I think everybody understands the dynamics at play here. About $350 million to $360 million in surge business from last year did not repeat. And that was offset by a significant rebound in demand from our traditional manufacturing and construction customers and, to a lesser degree, new sales to customers that had never bought from Fastenal prior to the pandemic.

Our fastener products grew 28.4% and best represent the strength of our underlying business conditions. If we were to adjust out the impact of surge sales, we believe that safety and other products would have grown at a level that’s comparable to our fastener growth.

Manufacturing, and particularly heavy manufacturing, is exhibiting broad strength. And in the case of both manufacturing and non-residential construction, sequential quarterly growth in the period exceeded historical norms. Combined with access to customers that is approaching pre-pandemic levels as evidenced by our improved Onsite and FMI signings in the second quarter of 2021, our outlook remains positive.

It’s also worth highlighting that while government sales were down 63% in the second quarter of 2021, they were up 37% versus the second quarter of 2019. We had similar dynamics play out with certain large customers. We continue to believe that we gained market share during the pandemic.

Now to Slide 7. Operating margin in the second quarter of 2021 was 21.1%, up 20 basis points. Gross margin was 46.5% in the second quarter of 2021, up 200 basis points versus the second quarter of 2020. Our safety product margin improved in a combination of mix as lower margin COVID affected PPE mix retreated to pre-pandemic levels and a recovery in pricing as the market is normalized. We leveraged overhead costs on an improvement in volumes and favorable rebates which is a combination of lower rebates to certain customers that were heavy surge buyers in 2020 and our own purchasing of key products improving versus 2020. Product mix, specifically growth of fasteners versus non-fasteners, was also a significant contributor to the growth and was a significant factor in gross margin outperforming our expectations for the period. Our pricing actions, largely matched inflation we are seeing in the marketplace and price cost did not meaningfully affect gross margin in the second quarter of 2021.

The increase in gross margin was partly offset by operating expenses growing faster than sales. In the second quarter of 2020, in response to the onset of the pandemic, we took certain proactive steps to reduce costs. Certain costs naturally declined as a result of the weak business. And a large portion of our surge sales went direct as opposed to through our branches, which is a very low labor intensity source of revenue. In response to improving conditions in the second quarter of 2021, these situations reversed. Our headcount remains under control but is appropriately ticking up as demand recovers at our branches. Further, incentive compensation was up almost 20% and healthcare costs were up 25%. Travel expenses are growing strongly, very easy comparisons as the economy fully opens. Fuel costs are rising sharply. As we indicated last quarter, deleveraging operating expenses in the second quarter of 2021 is a function of anniversarying the first periods of pandemic-related cost savings measures combined with a strongly recovering marketplace. Setting aside these optics, however, we believe the organization continues to manage costs well. If you put it all together, we reported second quarter 2021 earnings per share of $0.42, which is flat versus $0.42 in the first quarter — I’m sorry, the second quarter of 2020.

Now turning to Slide 8. Operating cash flow was $172 million in the second quarter of 2021. This is down 32% annually and was 71.5% of net income. Now recall that in the second quarter of 2020 pandemic-related legislation allowed us to defer two tax payments into the third quarter of 2020. That deferral was not available to us in the second quarter of 2021 and we made those two payments as we historically have. The better way to think about cash generation is by considering that in the five years from 2015 to 2019, our second quarter cash conversion averaged 63.5%. Against this, we were pleased with our cash generation in the second quarter.

Year-over-year accounts receivable was up 3.1%. Though sales were flattish, the shift away from PPE surge buyers last year and toward traditional buyers this year blended up our days outstanding. Inventory was down 5.3% and there’s a lot of moving pieces here. A part of this is due to the difficulty in getting sufficient imported products, although our hub inventory deficit has not widened meaningfully versus where it was in the first quarter of 2021 as we are finding domestic sources of product. However, the decrease also reflects deliberate efforts to clean out slow-moving hub and branch inventory, branch closures and the shift in our stocking focus in the field. We believe these represent improvements in our working capital that will be sustained.

Net capital spending in the second quarter of 2021 was $32 million, down from $38 million in the first quarter of 2020. This was largely from lower FMI hardware spend, which was — which is a product of lower signings over the past 12 months and greater refurbishment of FMI equipment. Our 2021 net capital spending range is unchanged at $170 million to $200 million and we’re tracking in the lower half of this range at this time. We returned cash to shareholders in the quarter in the form of $161 million in dividends. And from a liquidity standpoint, we finished the second quarter with net debt at 2.5% of total capital, down from 6.4% in the year-ago period and 5.1% versus the fourth quarter of 2020. Essentially all of our revolver remains available for use.

Now before moving to Q&A, I wanted to update a few subjects of current interest. First, we continue to experience significant cost inflation, particularly for steel, fuel and transportation. In the second quarter of 2021, price contributed 80 basis points to 110 basis points to growth. This largely tracked our increase in costs and the impact of price costs on margin was immaterial. Cost pressures remain high however, which will require us to institute further material price actions in the period. The marketplace is still receptive to price actions and the tools and processes we have developed have been effective. Even so, given the rate of inflation, maintaining price cost parity will be a bigger challenge in the third quarter of 2020.

Global supply chains remain tight. We have managed this well domestically, which has allowed our customer service levels to remain high as a result of spot buys which do tend to carry a lower margin and inventory in certain areas to build to meet projected future needs. Internationally there continues to be a shortage of capacity which has made moving products, particularly fasteners, increasingly costly and sustained long lead times. We believe this dynamic could persist at its current level intensity through 2021.

Now Dan commented earlier on the labor shortages in most of our business. We have largely managed this to this point. However, we are beginning to see those pressures be reflected in our labor costs and the increase in Onsite signings and implementations could introduce some additional strains there. However, recognize a few things. First, this is all partly a byproduct of strong demand and happens to some degree with every cycle. Strong growth will allow leverage of other costs that will help us to mitigate these pressures. Second much of what we’re doing with our Digital Footprint and the change in our branch model will address many of these matters. Third, none of these pressures are unique to Fastenal, but we believe that our culture and our structure is uniquely geared to navigate them. We’ve seen — we have seen no moderation in these pressures over the past three months, but we continue to believe that we’ll gain share through them.

That is all for our formal presentation. So with that, operator, we’ll take questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question is coming from David Manthey of Baird. Please go ahead.

David Manthey — Baird — Analyst

Thank you. Good morning, guys.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Hello, [Phonetic] David.

David Manthey — Baird — Analyst

Dan, in the past you’ve noted that at $10 billion in revenues you should have about 46% gross margin and 20% plus op margin, which is exactly how the business looks today at $6 billion in revenues. Is there any change to that formula based on how you see the complexion of the business playing out over the next $4 billion?

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

I won’t be surprised — as far as the residual number which is ultimately the number that matters, that 20%-plus, I see no — I see no change there. Maybe a bias for increasing it but time will tell on that one. I wouldn’t be surprised, given what we saw in the last year and some of the things we’re doing as we get deeper and deeper with some of the — with some of the larger customers and are looking at different types of business and options there, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 46% — us drop below the 46%. But in those discussions I oftentimes cited the 46%, 24%, 22% was the number that we aspired to. I think ultimately when you have a branch network where the average branch is north of 200,000 a month versus 130,000 to 150,000 like it is today and an Onsite network that’s a bigger percentage of the business, I feel comfortable saying that any gross margin that the mix pulls us below that 46% threshold also pulls us below the 24% threshold. And so that plus 20% thought process of when we were a $10 billion organization, I feel as good about that today as anytime in the last five years. The focus internally, Dave, is that everybody who is involved in selling makes sure that on every individual relationship, every individual transaction that they get the value that they deserve based on the value that we bring to the relationship. As long as we do that, whatever the mix does because of our growth, the mix does. But as Dan indicated, there’s been no change in our expectation that we’re going to be a 20% or 22% operating margin business and a 25%-plus return on capital business. There is no change in that.

David Manthey — Baird — Analyst

Yeah. Sounds good. And second, how does the branch configuration relate to the LIFT program? Maybe I’m misunderstanding. Are CFCs the new LIFTs and do you expect to see some benefits in 2022 as you free up that selling energy that was formerly consumed by filling vending machines at the store level?

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Some things to keep in mind there. The LIFT is still touching a relatively small piece of our vending revenue which is a piece of our overall revenue. I think right now we’re at about 8%. I think that’s where we ended the quarter. About 8% of our vending revenue is being touched by LIFT. And if vending is in — is a little over 20% of our revenue, you can see it’s a relatively small piece it’s touching. So I don’t want to overbuild what LIFT is in the short term. We’re really excited about it in the longer term. And — so that’s one element. So the CFC, so the fulfillment center type branch, so we have two branch types and I’m generally speaking, talking about our US business in this commentary, when we go outside the US there is some nuance to it. But I wan to muddy the conversation of that. In the US, in the metro areas, about 70% of our branches now are a fulfillment center. And all that means is we’re not — we might have limited hours that were — that the front door is open and part of this sprang out of COVID. We found that that wasn’t horribly disruptive to our customer because every customer has a cellphone. Every customer has Internet access. So saying to our customer, hey, call us when you come in or order electronically we will have it ready for you and the doors can be locked, but when you get here, we will let you in, because most of our business is recurring customers, business to business relationships and that’s just the way the branch operates.

We — the front showroom has been contracted down — I guess that’s redundant — contracted and so there’s a small footprint you walk into if the front door is open or you pick it up at a locker if the front door is closed or you call and we’ll let you in. That’s just the branch. Separate to that that branch set-up and then the other 30% in the metro areas would be the traditional service branch that you’ve visited over the years. The only thing that changes when you get out to the metro is the mix is a little bit different. It’s about 60-40.

But separate from the branch facility is this LIFT. Now the LIFT might be adjacent to a distribution center, it might be completely independent of the distribution center and that’s just a very focused distribution center that’s picking not a pallet of product for a branch delivery, it’s picking a total product for a customer vending machine delivery and it’s removing that labor that’s relatively inefficient at the branch and putting it into a LIFT where it’s much more efficient. We can bring some automation to it. We bring scale to it. And over time that will become a bigger and bigger piece of our vending business. And the real question is can we do some of those same things for our FASTStock because highly repetitive transactions, you can bring scale to those transactions for the branch network and be more efficient. Does that help?

David Manthey — Baird — Analyst

It does. Thanks for the color, Dan.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

You bet.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Ryan Merkel of William Blair. Please go ahead.

Ryan Merkel — William Blair & Company — Analyst

Hi, guys. Thanks for taking the question.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Hi, Ryan. Good morning.

Ryan Merkel — William Blair & Company — Analyst

So I guess, first off, Holden you mentioned bigger inflation in the second half of ’21 and then potentially some price cost issues. Just given that the market is receptive to price, why is there a worry on price cost timing?

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Well, I would say it has as much to do with simply the rate of increase as much as anything else. You didn’t see an uplift in price in Q1 and then it’s kind of stayed there, right. You’ve continued to see those increases build. And much as we saw during the period of tariffs and inflation when you see a rapid rate of ascent that continues on for a period of time it can be difficult to maintain the pace, particularly when you have a business like ours where over half of it is national accounts and contract business. So — now, much like in the prior period do we think that you catch up to this? Absolutely. And I’ve always said that I feel like if you achieve price cost parity anytime within a quarter ahead to two quarters behind that’s kind of what the business supports and I still believe that’s true. But there’s always timing involved when cost is trending and that’s the situation that we have today. We’ve gone to the marketplace for different purposes a couple of times, done at least one large increase earlier in the second quarter and that was received fairly well. But based on what cost is doing we will have to go to the market with some additional ones. To this point, we continue to hear from the field that customers are still so busy and receiving it from so many areas that it’s not been a huge bone of contention. But there are timing issues around costs and around contracts that we navigate every cycle, we will navigate this one too.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Just a couple added tidbits I’ll throw in there. One element, Ryan, is frankly fatigue that sets in from the standpoint of I’m going back one more time and that’s an element. That doesn’t mean you don’t get it but that makes it challenging in the short term. The other piece is the vast majority of what we’re seeing we don’t view as transitionary. But there is a transitionary component and that is with the congestion at the ports we’re doing fill-in buys. And we estimate right now that the magnitude of fill-in buys that we do this year will be about five times what we see in a typical year. There is always issues that come up. There is a spike in demand and we need to do a fill-in buy. There is an issue with production from a manufacturer or shipment we have to do a fill-in buy. But the magnitude is so much bigger right now and a piece of that is transitionary and that’s the piece that you might not capture.

Ryan Merkel — William Blair & Company — Analyst

Yeah. Okay. Makes sense and not any different than I expected actually. And then, I just want to clarify the decision to remove counter labor at some of the branches having taken a lot of questions on this. So what are you giving up, what are you getting and would you call this a tweak to the strategy or is this a major change?

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Part of it is — I don’t know if we know the answer to that. Keep in mind that the incredible majority of our business is B2B and what we saw during COVID is a lot of habits changed. In your personal life, I suspect there’s things you do today and how you procure items for your personal life that are different from what they were a year-and-a-half ago. Well, that’s true with our customer base too. It’s true with both the B2B. And then a piece of it is, I don’t know if I’d call it B2C, but maybe it’s B to very small b where it’s a local business that just buys, doesn’t even have an account. And we really encourage that customer. We can be a better partner for you and we can provide you a higher level of service by ordering electronically and we’ll have it ready for you.

Part of the reason for — we aren’t necessarily removing some counter labor — part of it is, it doesn’t exist. So our business — our branch-based business is up 27%. Our FTE at the branch is up less than 1% and that isn’t by choice. That’s what’s available. And so part of it is offshoot of COVID, part of it’s legacy because we don’t have some of the staffing we want, part of it we do believe this is our model for the future and we believe it’s a better model.

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

And what I’d probably add, Ryan, is if you think about the amount of revenue that’s being impacted here, I mean, the cash business, just what is paid to us in actual dollars and cents.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Or credit card.

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Or credit card is about 2% of our revenue. I mean, it’s not a huge number. If I think about those accounts that are $250 a month or less, that’s 4% of our revenue, but it represents more than 80% of our active accounts. And so what we’re essentially trying to time to [Phonetic] think through is how much labor are we putting into 80% of our accounts that represents 4% of our revenues. And when we think about the development of e-commerce, and you see in this quarter our e-commerce — our web sales of e-commerce were up north of 60%. That wasn’t entirely because of our conversations with the smaller customers about how we can service them to that model, but a part of it was certainly because of that. So we don’t view it as walking away from a lot of revenues. We view it as aligning the best way to service different groups of customers within our branch in a way that in turn frees up time for our people to sell. So much like the question earlier, we created the LIFT program to free up time for our people to sell to customers that are really going to move the needle. The things that we’re doing in the branch is really intended to do very much the same thing. And what I’ll tell you is I’m not sure this model is a whole lot different from what we did 15 years ago. So it’s a bit of a evolution towards that, if you will.

So, you asked what we’re giving up. This just seems like a refinement in the model to focus on key accounts that can really move the needle and free up a lot of time for talented salespeople to go after those accounts. We think that makes us grow faster.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

To add one tidbit and that is I am probably more sensitive to this change than most. I grew up — I think you know I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. And I think of my dad would be what I would have just described as a B to small business. He was — he basically had himself — he and my mom ran the farm, the kids helped. And — but they did the real lifting and — but it was a small business. And I’m very conscious of we want to serve that customer too. And how do we figure out the best way to serve? So when I see web feedback come in — I read every web feedback that comes in.

I called quite a few customers over the last year-and-a-half. Understand that some of the feedbacks positive, some of those negative. It’s a rare conversation I don’t come off it with the response from the customer saying, I don’t know you guys could do that. Hell, I’d rather buy from you that way. That’s how I do — that’s how I do a bunch of stuff in my personal life. I just didn’t know you guys did that because I think of you as a — as the hardware store in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. And so I think the market wants us to do it.

Ryan Merkel — William Blair & Company — Analyst

Yeah, makes sense. All right. Thanks. I’ll pass it on.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Josh Pokrzywinski of Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.

Josh Pokrzywinski — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Hi. Good morning, guys.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Good morning.

Josh Pokrzywinski — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Just to follow up on that last question in terms of the freed up time to sell the customers. Dan, how do you think about the priorities there? It is Onsites or national accounts or more mid-sized customers, maybe all the above, like what is that kind of new ideal customer that the sales force is freed up to go pursue? And is there some sort of seasoning period as they get to meet what are, I would imagine, are newer customers or are they productive right away?

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

The priority is very simple, have a plan. And that plan involves know who your larger opportunities are in the marketplace and make sure you’re engaging with those customers, know who really understand the potential of your existing customers in the market and engage with that customer and then have a plan for everybody else. And that means when something is ordered electronically and it’s a smaller customer, serve the heck out of that customer, meet that customer where it works for both parties. And that means if somebody orders it, if it’s in the branch, it’s ready for them in a short window of time for them to come in and pick it up. If it’s something that’s not in the branch and some distribution center, we get it in the next morning and it’s in a locker at 7 o’clock in the morning and — or it’s ready for the customer to pick up in the branch at 7 o’clock in the morning. So you’re very mindful of what is your plan because the bulk of the dollar opportunity is coming from the larger opportunities in the market. That’s just math. But you want a nice mix to your business because it helps — it helps to be a great partner to a wide range of customers. And we can be a special business because we can fulfill transactions faster than our industry because of our local stocking and our captive distribution network. We have a better cost structure to our industry. We have a better fulfillment cycle to our industry and it’s incredibly reliable. And we have that local team that can react to the unexpected. And that’s what froze up for so many companies in the second quarter of 2020. They don’t have that decentralized something special local that can react to the unexpected.

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

And I think what you do with that time is it frees you up to spend more time in front of those key accounts where those large volume opportunities are. And what comes out of that is going to be determined by that conversation. And so do we think this is more Onsites, probably because we think Onsites bring a tremendous amount of value. Is it more FMI, probably because we think that brings a tremendous amount of value. But ultimately remember, Josh, our model is set up so that we don’t have one solution for a customer. We don’t have one solution for each of the customer’s plants. We have a different solution that’s tailored to each plant for each customer. And when we’re out having a conversation about how we can do that, when we have more time to have that conversation, we suspect more Onsites will come out of it. We suspect more digital footprint is going to come out of it, but ultimately it’s about the conversation with the customer that gains us share as a supply chain partner.

Josh Pokrzywinski — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Got it. That’s helpful. That’s helpful color around. And then just a follow up on Onsites. I know that — I saw that in the release the closings I guess and conversions together, kind of remain elevated here. Is that just a function of folks kind of reassessing post-COVID now that they’re back out in the world? Do you think that’s more of a temporary phenomenon or is this kind of the run rate they’re on term for a while?

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Now since the level of how does it seem to have changed during COVID or after COVID, I guess I’d say that it’s been a little sticky. If you’ve talked to the folks in Onsite, I think they would say the 27.25 [Phonetic] is a bit elevated. And I think that if we were at a pace of 80, I don’t think that would surprise anybody. A pace of a 100 is probably a little bit more than we might have expected. Why that is I’m not sure. Now each quarter, we — again, we go through why we’re seeing closings. And what we take out of that is the large majority of those closings continue to either be a plant being shut and the volume going elsewhere or going to a different geography or simply a decision on the part of somebody at Fastenal to say this isn’t actually working out as an Onsite. We think we can service this just as well, if not better, at a branch and we’re going to take it back there and do it that way. And that continues to be the vast majority of the closures that we see as opposed to those fewer cases where it’s we’ve lost the business, which does happen, but it’s the minority of those closures. So in the case of the first, there is not much we can do about plants moving, right.

In the case of the second, we’re making a business decision and I can’t tell you it’s a bad decision. In the case of the third that happens, every now and again, you lose a piece of business. But for the most part, what we’re not seeing is our competitive moat around Onsite to get degraded and that’s why we’re seeing closings. We just haven’t seen any indication of that. So that mix hasn’t changed and that answer hasn’t changed and that’s, I guess, where I’d leave it.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

And we’re as excited about Onsite as we have been in the last decade.

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah.

Josh Pokrzywinski — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Great. Appreciate the color, guys.

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Nigel Coe of Wolfe Research. Please go ahead.

Nigel Coe — Wolfe Research, LLC — Analyst

Thanks. Good morning, gents. Helpful as well. [Phonetic]

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Hey. Good morning.

Nigel Coe — Wolfe Research, LLC — Analyst

So, Dan, I think you mentioned last quarter the outlook for pricing some of it in the normal range, I think you said 2% at the upper end. Is that going to be enough to offset the inflation that you’re referring to in the back half of the year? Do you need to go above that normal 2% range?

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

I don’t think so, Nigel, not at this point. Now, I don’t know what is in store for Q1 on cost, right, the various pieces. Well, I’m just thinking a little bit further out on the road. I think we have a decent beat on what Q3 looks like. But I don’t know how long this inflationary environment is going to persist. So it’s hard to give a definitive answer on that. Based on what we know today, I don’t think we need to be above our historical range. I do think we need to be above 80 basis points to 110 basis points. And I would still expect that to be the case in the back half. But would I change my earlier statement or my statement from last quarter that it wouldn’t surprise me to see us north of 150 basis points, I think that’s probably what we need to see in order to continue to mitigate. And we made some progress from Q1 to Q2. I expect to make more progress Q2 to Q3 and we’ll see. But I don’t think we need to be north of that 150 basis points to 200 basis points that I was thinking about last quarter.

Nigel Coe — Wolfe Research, LLC — Analyst

Okay. [Speech Overlap] Yeah. You mentioned 3Q, Holden, and sometimes — sometimes you do give some color on gross margin mix. And I’m just — given the moving pieces on inflation pricing and also the pandemic mix is coming down as well, how do we think about that sequential build into the back half of the year on gross margins?

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, I mean it’s — I guess we’ll always argue over what we find to be unusual circumstances that we should guide for. I guess I’m not doing it the same way this time around. But I mean, I think if you think about the dynamics around gross margin, right, I mean the last couple of months we’ve seen costs of overseas transportation go up and that goes through our cost of goods, right. Obviously the cost of fuel, not a big expense, but continues to go up. If you think about the fill-in buys that Dan referred to earlier, those are going to continue to be at a fairly high clip. If we think about price costs being a wild card, I don’t think that our second quarter is going to be 46.5%. I would not be surprised to see a taper off from that level. But where that goes —

Nigel Coe — Wolfe Research, LLC — Analyst

Third quarter, you mean? [Phonetic]

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

I am sorry. What did I say?

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Second.

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Sorry, third quarter, yeah, I fully expect second quarter to be 46.5%. I don’t expect third quarter to be at that level. I think that there’s just forces in the marketplace that are going to work against that before you talk about price cost. And then, there’s the wildcard about our level of achievement on price costs. And, Nigel, to be clear, we have plans for pricing. We have systems for pricing. We’re not writing off the idea of being neutral price costs. We’re going to work very hard to maintain that. And I think there’s a good chance we could be. I’m just saying that the pressures are going up and we have to be respectful of that.

Nigel Coe — Wolfe Research, LLC — Analyst

Okay. Thanks a lot.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Chris Snyder of UBS. Please go ahead.

Chris Snyder — UBS Investment Bank — Analyst

Thank you. I wanted to follow up on the earlier conversation on the Onsite closures. Like as you guys were saying, we’ve seen this 100-ish run rate, really starting in ’19 and carrying through today and 100-ish per year, I mean. And with that the turn has gone higher to high single-digit from pre-2018. It was really in the low single-digit. I guess my question is, as you’re scaling it, is it incrementally more challenging to find Onsite candidates that you have high conviction aren’t going to move are going to be suitable from a volume standpoint?

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Simple answer, no, it’s not more challenging. There’s ample opportunity out there. What is challenging is in the last 15, 16, 17 months of the proposition I’m talking to a customer moving in with them, when they want to be distanced from everybody on the planet. Imagine having an apartment, you bring in a roommate, it’s kind of the same concept. You don’t want to be around people and that’s changing and so that — seeing that expand. Some things that — if you think about vending, which we’ve been doing now for 13 — going on 13 years, when vending really took off for us, in that latter part of 2011, 2012 standpoint.

In the following year, we were pulling out 25%, 28% of the devices that we would install, because some of them were just bad. And we didn’t know what — we didn’t really know what we’re doing yet, because we were creating an industry. And then that went to 22%. And then it went to 18%. And then as our participation and our knowledge base across the organization improved, today 13 years later, we remove every year about 12% of our devices. We think we can get that to 10% with our LIFT strategy, and some of the things we’re doing to make it a little bit easier to serve FMI devices. But we think we can get that to 10%, but it’s still 10%. The real question is what is that natural number for Onsite? And five years into a really hard push, unfortunately, a year plus of that five years is COVID. And so I don’t know that we know what that number is.

Now, we do know that about half of the Onsites that we close are because the customer moved the facility or closed down the facility. And the other half are, we pulled some back, we lose some visitors. So there’s a number of dynamics. There’s some where we grow it from 30% to 60% and we get stuck at 60%. And as Holden mentioned a few minutes ago, we’ve just moved back to the branch, because it’s more efficient for everybody. Or the customer kicks us out, because they’re out of room. And I don’t like Onsite closers, but I know — and I don’t like FMI devices coming back, but I know it’s part of the business. And the real question is, can we as an organization over time outgrow our industry and gain market share more efficiently, more productively and, we’d be redundant, quicker than everybody else, so we can do that with Onsite and FMI devices and all the things we’re doing. I love the business.

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. And I think the reason we look at it every quarter of why those closings happen, it’s just so that we understand why. And when you think about that, typically I think people think about a closure as a loss of revenue and in the large — in the majority of cases a closure of an Onsite is not a loss of revenue. In fact, to the extent that there was some progress at the Onsite at the original it’s actually might be bringing more to the branch than less initially. And so, when you think about the closure rate, think about cut it in half, because a bunch of the business we’re still maintaining. And then as Dan indicated, there’s some historical precedent here with vending. We ran hard and fast to sort of get into the marketplace. We learned a lot. And as we learned a lot, we sort of cleaned up some things that maybe we did when we were — when — early on in the initiative, and then we were smarter and more efficient coming out of it. I think we’re really following a very similar pattern here.

Chris Snyder — UBS Investment Bank — Analyst

Appreciate all of that. And I guess, for following up and trying to tie the Onsite conversation into your prepared remarks around hiring, I guess from the customer standpoint, whether it’s social distancing in the factory or them having trouble bringing in new employees, has that impacted maybe your revenue per Onsite year-to-date? And as that all begins to come back, should we expect the revenues at Onsites to outpace growth over across the remainder of the business in the coming quarters?

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I’m not quite sure how to answer your question from the standpoint of if the social distancing in the plant means their production is down 20%, and we’re supplying OEM parts, OEM fasteners, it would impact us 20% in that plant. If it’s MRO it would impact us directionally.

Chris Snyder — UBS Investment Bank — Analyst

But I guess my question is more on the safety side because when we see the pictures of the vending machines, it seems like there’s a lot of workforce consumables in that that are maybe more tied to how many people are in the plant, not necessarily the output from that plant.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, but they usually go hand-in-hand. But when it comes to vending the FMI devices, the vending machine, over half the revenue there is PP&E. And that’s directly related to how many human beings are in that plant and for how many hours of the day. And so, if there’s a smaller number of human beings, but they’re spread out over multiple shifts, so the same amount of hours are being worked, I wouldn’t expect safety to be impacted. It might be higher because people are much more conscious about safety today than — about wearing a mask or wearing gloves or doing anything, people are better about washing their damn hands today than they were a year-and-a-half-ago. And so, to that extent, you might have fewer people and more consumption. Because everybody is saying, do this, do this, do this, and you’re more conscious to it.

Chris Snyder — UBS Investment Bank — Analyst

Appreciate that.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

But I don’t know that it’s specific to Onsites either. I mean, it’ll wear your time as labor productivity in general, I mean that could be true broadly. But sector has gotten more productive over time. And we continue to drive safety revenues because we continue to gain market share. We think that opportunity is still there.

Chris Snyder — UBS Investment Bank — Analyst

Thank you.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

I actually thought you were going a different place with the question. And I thought you were going to the place of if it’s really difficult to hire, does that help your ability to sign Onsites because it’s difficult for your customer to hire. I would say it sure doesn’t hurt. And — but it’s difficult for us to hire for that too. It’s just that — it’s a more efficient model. So the customer doesn’t need to hire three people and maybe we need to hire one. And so it becomes an enhancer, but it’s — I don’t know how you quantify that.

Chris Snyder — UBS Investment Bank — Analyst

No. Interesting color. Thank you for that.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

All right.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Hamzah Mazari of Jefferies. Please go ahead.

Ryan Gunning — Jefferies LLC — Analyst

Hey, guys. Good morning. It’s Ryan Gunning, actually filling in for Hamzah.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Hi. Good morning.

Ryan Gunning — Jefferies LLC — Analyst

Could you just talk about — good morning. Could you talk about market share gains and how much kind of outperforming in terms of growth versus your end markets?

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I mean you have to make an adjustment, obviously for the —

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Pandemic.

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

For the pandemic and the surge sales which I’ve done. And if you compare our growth and I think I indicated fasteners grew 28%. And if you take out the pandemic it would have been comparable across the business. I think if you compare that to what industrial production has done during the quarter or to any of the industry surveys that are out there, I think that you would see that we outgrew them — outgrew both of those measures. So we feel good about the continued market share gaining capabilities of the business.

Ryan Gunning — Jefferies LLC — Analyst

Got it. Dan, that’s helpful. And then, could you talk about how you’re thinking about freight going forward than just where maybe you are in terms of optimizing your fleet from a route perspective and other last mile delivery factors?

Daniel L. Florness — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Tell you what, I’m going to ask Holden to take that one offline, because we’re right against the hour and I — we’re pretty strict — we try to hold this to an hour because we realize we’re in earnings season and the analyst community [Indecipherable] call to jump on or stuff the reviews. So we’ll take that one offline. But thank you to everybody for participating in the call today and to the Fastenal team on the call. Thanks for what you did in the second quarter. Good luck in third.

Holden Lewis — Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

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