Businesses Keep Moving Forward Despite Supply Chain Challenges
Supply chain and logistic challenges have been difficult for just about every industry, and the glazing industry is no exception. Throughout the year, companies have dealt with price increases on glass, aluminum and other supplies given the shortage of these materials, among many others.
To help address some of the supply chain concerns, the White House launched a Supply Chain Dashboard to turn the tide in the country’s favor. Will it be enough? Supply chain expert Lisa Anderson, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc., predicts supply chain disruption will continue beyond 2024.
“The supply chain disruption is real and will last for quite some time,” Anderson says. “Let’s look at the ‘why’ of the disruption. If you remove industry nuances, there are three main causes of the disruption. The first cause is labor. The pandemic exacerbated the ongoing drain of skilled ‘boomer’ workers, many of whom took early retirement. The pandemic also caused workers to reassess their priorities. That resulted in people deciding that they didn’t like their industry or job or their boss. This has manifested into what many are calling the Great Resignation. Manufacturing, transportation, distribution, none of these industries are exempt. And, most of these industries affect the consumer, who has felt the supply chain pinch the worst.”
While no industry is exempt, perhaps the new Supply Chain Dashboard will help companies stay up-to-date. The dashboard will be updated bi-weekly, tracking port progress in Los Angeles, Long Beach and more. Tracking ships at anchor, cumulative import volume and retail inventories, the Biden-Harris Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force aims “to act as an honest broker to encourage companies, workers, and others to stop finger-pointing and start collaborating.”
Anderson’s company, LMA Consulting Group, works with manufacturers and distributors on strategy during these puzzling times. She says the most expensive reason for supply chain disruptions is a shortage of equipment in various sectors, including construction. What is the end game—is there one?
“It all comes down to creating a never-ending supply chain circle, almost like
the supply chain is chasing its proverbial tail,” Anderson adds. “I don’t see that this is easily solvable by initiating new laws or enticing workers with more money. Sure, it can help, but it’s not an easy fix. It will take recognizing that there may be no new normal. Essentially, the supply chain will be in a constant state of evolution. The successful manufacturers will be adaptive, resilient and forward-thinking as they respond to changes in demand and recognize an ever-evolving supply chain.”
Supply chain and logistic challenges were also discussed during the Dodge Construction Network Conference, which took place in early November. One particular session geared toward subcontractors offered tips and information on how to keep businesses and projects going as supply-chain challenges persist. Dave Colford, chief revenue officer for Dodge Construction Network, along with Jim Davis, vice president of Whirl Construction; Mike Headrick, vice president and district manager of PCL Construction; and Bryan Callaway, CFO of C&E Lumber Co., discussed how their businesses have progressed and endured the challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not just about solving for today, it’s about how our business is fundamentally changed in terms of how we move forward,” Colford says.
“The biggest concern for our industry turns into: are we buying it at the right
time? We all know lumber went through the roof,” Callaway says, posing the question, “If I buy heavy right now, what’s my price going to be next month? We bought six or seven truckloads of material back in July, and each truckload was approximately $12,000 on average. Then in August, when the lumber market decided to drop, we lost 40% right off the top—a $70,000 loss. We just can’t go through that.”
Davis emphasized communication with customers.
“Typically, a lot of standard proposals are 30 days… you can’t guarantee the 30 days because, just like what happened with the lumber fall-out, the price of steel is going up astronomically. The price ten days from now may not be good anymore. I think the biggest thing on our end is trying to manage the customer expectations. Educate them on what we know, ask them for guidance on what we don’t know. Then we come to a happy medium and try to have the understanding that this is the price today. But, if XYZ happens, the price is subject to change.”
They also talked about what they think the future looks like for their businesses, as the pandemic-related restrictions rise.
“I would say that we’re relatively bullish about the next 18 to 24 [months],” says Headrick. “I think that there’s a lot of great opportunities out there. The pipelines have been full for quite some time; they all kind of hit pause for quite a while … So, we really think there’s some great opportunity in the next 18 to 24 months.”
“There is cautious optimism across the board, but at least the underlying data suggests the recovery is real,” Colford says.
Dustin Anderson, president of Anderson Glass, a contract glazing company based in Waco, Texas, says his company has certainly experienced the supply chain challenges of late.
“Some suppliers are requiring full payment upfront for large orders and others are keeping terms, but the likelihood of consistent, on-time supply delivery is more of a dream than a reality,” he says. “Our small shop has had four orders of residential windows on order for two months now. Those orders are paid-in-full to the suppliers and even though we took a deposit of half down from our clients, the margins aren’t always enough to cover the cost. Those orders have been pushed back again and not only do we have capital out of pocket, we have upset customers.”
He adds that maintaining close relationships with suppliers can help during these challenging times.
“Finding strategic partnerships with suppliers is a huge deal and ensuring your staff is aware of which companies to order what supplies from is an ongoing rotation.”
Giroux Glass Celebrates 75th Anniversary
What was once a small business servicing and repairing windows in Los Angeles has grown into a large-scale architectural glass and glazing group working on a slew of projects across the country. That business just celebrated its 75th anniversary and released a new book, “A History of Excellence,” available on its website. Giroux Glass, founded by Louis Giroux in 1946, held its anniversary celebration at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles,
a project on which it provided glazing work and completed in 2020.
Nataline Lomedico, president and CEO, and Anne-Merelie Murrell, chairwoman emeritus, spoke and expressed optimism for the company’s future at the recent event.
“Our 75 years of success are primarily due to continual adjustments along the way,” said Lomedico. “Each strategy, initiative, plan, procedure, protocol, accounting report, new software, tool, plan for innovation, client/vendor relationship, and new hire has the potential to foster Giroux’s success and support our sustainability and growth as a company.
Throughout the years, Giroux Glass has won several awards, including spots in USGlass’ Top 50 Glaziers, and accomplished large-scale projects such as the Skywalk at the Grand Canyon, College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the Universal Studios Hollywood thrill ride inspired by the movie “Jurassic World.”
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