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Robert Kierlin: Fastenal, Inc.

In 1967, when Bob Kierlin started Fastenal in Winona (Minn.), it was the smallest of 10,000 fastener (such as nuts and bolts) businesses in the United States. By 1997, it had become the largest.

The company became profitable by 1969, reached $100 million in annual sales by 1993 and $1 billion in sales by 2004. Kierlin was the chief executive from startup and still remains chairman.

The only equity raised, prior to the initial public offering, was $22,000 at startup from Kierlin and three Winona friends, and an additional $9,000 a year later from a fifth investor who was a friend. From this start, Kierlin has built a company that has a market cap in excess of $5 billion.

This is how he did it.

This introduction is excerpted from Bootstrap to Billions: Proven Rules from Entrepreneurs who Built Great Companies from Scratch by Dr. Dileep Rao. Copying or reproduction in any format or medium without the prior express, written consent of the author is strictly prohibited.

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