It has already been two years since we started with the Commie Crud (tm Sgt. Mom) and what a two years it has been. I have occasionally put out a dispatch from the front lines of industrial distribution here in the USA and thought it might be a good time to give an update.
Inventories are up in all sectors of my business and every distributor is hoarding as much stuff as their banks will allow. Production patterns are impossible to predict as there always seems to be another calamity in line whether it is Delta, Omicron, another freeze coming to Texas, and so on. It is relentless, never ending and exhausting. Every single day we go to work there is a problem of some sort. The good news is that it isn’t even a surprise anymore it is just part of the daily grind.
Where in the past we had smooth curves that were developed over decades of normal pattern buying, now it is all spikes all over the place. It is literally impossible to forecast correctly. So you load up the barn and sort of hope. Honestly, that is true, sad as it seems.
In the beginning of the Covidian Era, finished goods were the huge problem and still are. I thought it would be parts. Parts have held out pretty nicely until the last few months and we are now seeing issues across many vendors. It’s all about huge demand and problems with the workforce along with lingering transportation issues. Anything made “over there” like ductless mini splits are hopeless at this point. They just “show up” and we sell out and hope to see more. The companies can’t even tell us when things will arrive on a timely basis.
There really doesn’t seem to be too much light at the end of the tunnel, and there was at least a little six months ago. All industry people that I talk to are saying at least another year of this and maybe more. Prices are skyrocketing on pretty much everything but again, we are used to that now.
The good news is that we are flexible and able to find new vendors and solutions. If we were a large lumbering company with no room for change, it would be different but we are well financed, have a great bank relationship and are making new friends all the time.
So it’s tough again, but we are sort of steeled now. I know this isn’t much of an update really, but there it is.
It burns me crisp when I hear about teachers going on strike or when I see a tribute to medical people as if they are the only ones working hard through this. Not that I have anything against medical people, but give the rest of us “essentials” some love once in a while. Next time you see or hear something like that, mentally thank your auto mechanics, grocery workers, truck drivers, utility workers, HVAC techs, factory workers, and everyone else who hasn’t missed a day of work through this whole shebang. We are all exhausted too and would like to think that we are helping society by keeping machines running, people moving and fed, and structures lit, warm and/or cool.