Global Supply Chain
Though we are small we are indeed a global manufacturer. Our raw material comes from New Zealand; we make our products in the US and we sell them across N. America and increasingly further afield. Our machines rely on parts from both domestic and foreign suppliers and we ship our products via multiple trucks each day.
In short, we see serious stress in each step of the process. New Zealand is challenged with having enough ships turning up to take goods; ports in the US are either not taking new bookings or are so backed up clearance times can be 6 weeks, instead of 3 days; parts suppliers used to max out at 2 week delivery times and are now somewhere between 2 months and not available. And trucking? Frankly, that could be a whole separate discussion. The full truckload (FTL) and less than truckload (LTL) space is a total mess and Fedex is simply not any better.
Frankly, we’ve not fared much better. Our backlog touched 8 weeks and we agitated a fan base we are incredibly proud to have cultivated. We are trying to add new production at our facility as well as outsourced capacity. The former is a year out in a best case scenario and we may have found some help on the latter after a year of begging!
What do we see….in no particular order?
- Constraint at the ports leading to month long delays
- No new bookings at various ports on the W. Coast of the US
- Little to no help in manufacturing – outsourced or timely organic growth
- Labor challenges
- Egregious overcharging by Fedex and other freight providers
- No end in sight – generally and particularly when delving into the geopolitical frey – which we do not do!
So what do these very real issues mean for us?
We are in a challenging environment whereby consumer demand is begging for supply and we can just barely eak out a little extra production in our facility. And new machinery is 9-18 months out. Irrespectively, we like a challenge and we shall persevere. Outsourced production and a new product launch are delayed but finally forthcoming and travel is booked to see new machinery so we too can make an informed decision.
Meanwhile it is fair to offer a few facts: wool prices are up 36%, shipping is near double for our lane, and packaging prices are up 40%. We raised our prices 11% so no it really shouldn’t be any wonder that the CPI was up over 5% in June and July.
So what are we going to do?
First, we’re going to remain a proud employer whose prospects for growth are good. Then we are going to do everything we can to address increased demand. Undoubtedly, there will be twists in the road but we’ll happily show up everyday and do the best we can. It is easy when you have a group of people who care as much as we do about what we are providing to a growing fan base. Wool is an AMAZING fiber, unlike any other. We try to carry ourselves with an integrity that matches its inherent capabilities. Do we get bummed out when people complain about our backlog? Yes. Does it push us harder to find a solution? Also yes.
Here’s to it!