“I’d love to tell you when you can expect your hardware, but we don’t even know,” has become the norm in responses from vendors. I think we all expected some fallout from this, but now it seems there is a more significant change on the horizon that could impact the glass industry for the worse. The banter between some of our homebuilder clients has revealed that their bathroom designs will include less shower glass as lead times continue to hold up house closings.
As we continue to hear that there doesn’t seem to be a long-term solution for frameless hardware delays, the larger the impact will be on the homebuilding industry. Homebuilders can easily modify a floor plan to a walk-in style shower setting with zero glass or closed with no glass and allow the homeowner to manage that task. Obviously, the walk-in shower style has a larger impact on the market, but the idea is that you work relentlessly to keep your homebuilder clients happy, including pushing deadlines and increasing discounts for years, only to have your industry-specific item removed from the plans altogether is an incredibly sad thought. Obviously, this won’t be a long-term solution as plenty of homeowners will want that “open bathroom” feel. Still, in the short term, this could have a tremendous impact on glass shops that are struggling with capital in this tumultuous market.
I’ve heard mixed reviews from glass shop owners on lead times, product availability and capital flow. Some owners are saying they are surviving with no issues as building in their areas continues to boom. Others are telling me that surviving the next six months will be harder than the impact of the 2008 housing crisis. Some are forecasting that the housing market will level out midyear, citing that the highest peaks occurred in 2021. The truth remains that very few of us have a clue what to expect over the coming months.
The option to pivot is a tough move these days. In 2008, I shifted my business to chase remodelers and window replacements. Sadly this pivot isn’t an option today with window lead times being up to 18 weeks and building material costs soaring for remodelers. The best any of us can do now is buckle down and stay thrifty. Cutbacks aren’t always the answer but for some, this may be the only way. I predict there will be some glass shops that will not survive the fallout of these supply chain issues, while others will pull through and absorb the business left behind. Regardless of the outcome, the supply chain issues will have a lasting impact on our industry and the building industry as a whole.
Dustin Anderson is the president of Anderson Glass in Waco, Texas.