Everyone is complaining about how difficult it is to “get stuff.” From raw materials to parts and components, shortages abound across all industries here and abroad. Many lay the blame at the feet of COVID-19. Some blame government mismanagement (especially during the run-up to the mid-term elections here in the U.S.).
The fact is that pandemic shutdowns DID have something to do with supply chain hold-ups, especially with how everyone tried turning everything back on at once. It apparently isn’t as easy to reconnect supply chain links as it is to cut them.
Then, of course, minor inconveniences like labor shortages, inflation, and raging demand haven’t yet been reigned in by The Federal Reserve’s prime interest increase campaigns.
However, the HVAC industry is a very creative group. Manufacturers and distributors are tirelessly working to find alternative sources of materials, components, and products to help reduce order backlogs and keep our residential and commercial consumers as happy as possible.
Several distributors I spoke to recently say that things are complex, but creativity in how they approach solutions helps a lot. They say that supply chain woes won’t stop the HVAC train.
In This Issue
Case-in-point: This month’s Partner Spotlight focuses on Michigan-based Behler-Young. CEO Doug Young says that as the shutdowns began, his team started increasing their inventories in anticipation of shortages to keep their contractors supplied. They also pivoted to move their training to the cyber sphere during the pandemic to protect their employees and contractors.
Managing inventory, at least from Doug Young’s perspective, is a powerful tool to counter shortages. This fact is true for contractors as well. Historically, from contractors’ perspectives, the exact opposite was the preferred approach. Today the “just-in-time” inventory may not make as much sense.
If contractors have the space, many are stocking up to battle shortages as best they can.
Another critical strategy is open communications. Good distributors are more open than ever with contractors regarding the status of orders, what to do in the meantime, and more. Better communication between contractors and distributors will help both face shortage issues, can help build relationships, and enable them to work better together in trying times.
Then there is customer service. In his article this month, contractor Tom Winstel says, “Because of supply chain disruptions, people have come to accept lousy service as the new normal. As supply chains return to normal, we need to overcome mediocre quality service issues.”
In other words, the supply chain issues shouldn’t impact the service that distributors provide contractors, or the service contractors offer their customers. It’s about managing expectations and finding solutions to supply chain issues.
And finally, in these times, you may need to look for strong partners for what you need. Dominick Guarino’s One More Thing column at the back of this issue talks about the importance of partnering with distributors who can help you grow.
You can also use this time to encourage customers to invest in service and maintenance agreements to help keep older systems up and running. By scheduling off-season inspections, your customers can remain comfortable in their homes and buildings.
The fact is HVAC supply chain issues might last throughout 2023. But they won’t stop the HVAC Industry.