People and Companies

Business Leaders of the Year 2016 – Donna Best

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Donna Best grew up watching her father grow a business from the ground up. Or, rather, from the garage out. Founded in 1977, Merit Fasteners was started in the family garage and evolved to become one of the largest industrial supply sources in the Southeast U.S.

In 2007, Best and two sisters purchased the company from their father, picking up the torch of the family business. She was interested in making her mark in the industry, but knew that they’d have to set their company apart as a women-owned business in a predominately male-driven field. When asked about working in the industry, Best said, “I consider it a unique opportunity, but once you get your foot in the door, you better know what you are talking about.”

In 2015, Best became an ATHENAPowerLink client and worked closely with a volunteer panel of business advisors who served as mentors helping her define and achieve tangible goals as an aspiring business owner. The outcome was to focus on relocating a Tampa branch and updating the Longwood location by investing in technology and expanding its reach to include additional product lines to service various industries. One of the first major project wins was the Amway Center in downtown Orlando.

The Uphill Road to Success

Best oversees over 15,000 line items ranging from nuts, bolts and screws to electric/pneumatic tools and related accessories. Merit Fasteners also offers various services, from inventory management systems to barcode programs to stock and release programs.

Best believes the focus on customer service is what differentiates them from their competition. At Amway Center’s grand opening, both Mayor Buddy Dyer and Best signed Merit-issued bolts that hold up the roof to the 875,000 square feet arena, leaving a big mark on her first big project.

With the success of the Amway project, Best landed contracts totaling $5 million for Orlando and Tampa-based infrastructure projects and also I-4 Ultimate, Daytona International Speedway, Orange County Convention Center, Sea World, and others.

Merit Fasteners also gives back to projects that help lift others out of poverty and become self-sustaining, such as donating products to Habitat for Humanity and mentoring young female business owners striking out on their own – just like she did.

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