Industrial Distribution – A Positive Update

I own an HVAC distributor – HVAC distribution is a subset of industrial distribution, at least in the US. I have been trying to give our readers some “boots on the ground” updates as we have been winding our way through a hectic 2020 with the virus.

All along the main problem for us has been finished goods. I thought when all of the shutdowns started happening that parts and pieces would be the main issue as a lot of that comes from “over there”. Not the case. Parts were never really a problem.

LTL and parcels were and continue to be an issue. The stuff shows up, but it is always late and we are seeing very poor quality work with damaged skids, missing boxes and the like. Not horrible, but everything is slow.

American factories, where most of the HVAC that is consumed in the USA is made, had immediate and lasting issues brought about by a few things. Covid safety procedures made people space out on assembly lines, slowing them down. People working from home and not able to go on vacation decided to invest that money into new HVAC systems (they also upgraded plumbing, roofing, electrical, etc). Add to this a relatively hot Summer and demand was quickly outstripping supply. All I did the past six months was work contacts, and try to source equipment from anyone who would sell it. I used many non-traditional partners (more on this in a minute) but it was job number one to keep our contractors moving. I have never worked so hard in my life trying to keep the barns full.

Over the last month or so, shipments have been much more freely arriving from the factories, taking a major load off of my shoulders. I don’t know if suppliers cancelled orders (I’m guessing some, but not a lot) or if the factories just said “to hell with this” and started crowding the assembly lines back to normal (maybe) or if everyone who was going to get the crud already had it (no clue). Probably some stuff I am missing too. I guess I don’t really care, but I know that my barns are full again, with just a few exceptions, which is normal for this time of year. Hooray!

MERV 13 filters, you can fuggedaboudit. 4-6 month lead time. I don’t expect that to change any time soon, but you never know. It was always a small portion of our volume anyways. Most people are moving to MERV 11 (lead times extending, naturally) or our stock MERV 10.

As far as the non traditional partners go, it was interesting to do business with different people and through different channels when I was sourcing product any way possible. I have made some new friends and business partners who I think will help me in my business plans over the next few years. I found some deals I didn’t know existed and met some knowledgeable people (virtually), one of whom I may start trying to recruit. These new business avenues were a pleasant surprise in the hell I was living in last Summer.

I am happy to report that coming to work, with the exception of me wearing a mask in my office, is just about what it was like in December of last year. We are very fortunate to be an essential business but yikes, what a ton of work 2020 has been. I need a vacation, but doubt that will be happening until we get the vaccines distributed as things are still pretty fluid with staffing and such but finally – finally – there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

15 thoughts on “Industrial Distribution – A Positive Update”

  1. Bravo, Dan.

    Great to hear this.

    We need not just vaccines, but also therapeutics. Throw everything at the disease.

    Hopefully 2Q next year, fingers crossed, we will have lots of viable things to throw at it and turn the corner, and end the onerous and often, to be polite, questionable safety measures.

  2. I feel sorry for the restauranteurs in CA. Every time they seem to get back on their feet, a new draconian edict comes. Since no inside dining is allowed, it is only take-out or erect a tent, for which many have spent $1000s.

    I have been going to this German restaurant – known the owner who came here 5 years ago – watched her business grow – then knocked down – grow, knocked down…

  3. Bill – I feel sorry for any business owner not deemed “essential” by the higher powers. So much work – gone.

  4. California is trying to make Kurt Schlicter’s novels come true. Just finished the new one. We are going over for Christmas. With the shutdown, our usual hotel will be closed but my older son is going to be out of town and we can use his condo.

    The only problem will be if Gruesom blocks the I 10 at the border but I know some alternate routes. My younger son always has the Christmas celebration and this year he is even off duty. His daughter had to fly to Arkansas to take the SAT. She is accepted at U of Alabama. The younger two, both athletes, are doing what they can. The younger daughter is a swimmer and there are still meets. The son has lost a season of football and baseball.

  5. Newsom can’t really think that he has the power to block a federal interstate, can he? Can he ban any interstate travel whatsoever? I’m guessing no.

  6. They’re already talking about cutting off federal funding to states that don’t impose harsh enough mask mandates. I would fully expect a Biden admin to let Gavin shut down interstates. If the Dems steal the GA Senate seats things are going to fly apart almost immediately.

  7. I think it was Delaware that was stopping cars from New York and requiring a quarantine. I could imagine Gruesom trying to get the CHP is stop cars from AZ. We are watching the situation. Our car, of course, has AZ plates. I think I have our CA plates in the garage. On I-8, the CBP stops all cars to check for illegals. Not on I-10 but there is a stop inside CA that waves everyone through. I suppose it could be used to block out of state cars. It used to check for fruit back when CA cared about farmers.

  8. It was Rhode Island that was most publicly thinking about / planning to stop NY cars back in the spring, until Andy threatened to sue them. He also told NYers who were fleeing to states like FL that they were under no obligation to quarantine themselves there. He then of course imposed the strictest possible limitations on people coming into the state in the summer. He is an evil psychopath.

  9. }}} there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

    Didn’t anyone mention that Biden has arrange for a train to be coming your way…??

  10. As we are about to find out, getting hundreds of millions to billions of anything out the door and where it will do any good is a major undertaking all its own. The vaccines will take months. Just making the glass vials to hold them will take months and they started a while before there was even a proven vaccine. Unmentioned anywhere I’ve seen is why they have to be single dose vials.

    The process of getting this test from something a trained person can administer on a couple of thousand people to something that is widely available, in the quantities necessary, and in a form that works as well will take months, at least. We will be starting from scratch next time too because that’s the way government works.

    An accurate, widely available test would have made all the difference back in March. As my dad would say: “People in Hell want ice water.” Now, it’s largely irrelevant, especially when now, a lot of people will probably go to great lengths to avoid taking one. The “authorities” have squandered their credibility and they’re not getting more any time soon. The prevalence has long passed the point where tracing is credible or useful. How many people could have infected you in the last two weeks?

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