The industry has changed in just about every possible way this year. Supply shortages, pent-up demand, and revenge spending all add up to a more expensive, and much longer timeline for fixture production than before. The road ahead seems equally challenging to predict, and keeping current is a time-consuming, low return, and weekly exercise. Read more about how you might be affected.
Planning is Everything
Recently, a client asked us to re-quote a metal fixture domestically that had been put on hold six months prior. Due to material cost increases alone (which we received 45+ weekly consecutive increases as of this writing), the cost increased by a multiple of 6x! After we picked each other off the floor, we decided to see how lead times and pricing looked to produce overseas – and were pleasantly surprised to provide the same product at one-third the price. This is an amazing savings!
The best way to give yourself the most options for your project and annual budget is to start the planning process early (i.e. now) for a fall delivery. Lead and transportation times are much longer than before, and the good news is that there’s still a sweet spot to hit…if you know where to look. We will do all the heavy lifting; all you have to do is contact us.
Directly schedule a call to start planning.
According to an article by Reuters in February 2021, raw metal costs are at 13-year highs. What’s worse, the trend has since continued, and even after you take the hit in the wallet there’s no guarantee when you’ll actually receive it. Our solution – we have production facilities both domestic (Minneapolis, MN) and overseas (Dongguan and Ningbo, China). It’s difficult to change vendors mid-stride when you have an urgent need, so pairing up with a vendor with many options is key to help you navigate the markets.
In December 2020, we experienced increased shipping issues in both parcel (UPS/FedEx) and freight lines. On a recent project, we sent an all paper-based fixture on a pallet via LTL, and a medicine cabinet arrived at the store. Our high-priority holiday window project was lost for a week without any information from the freight forwarder until it was delivered unexpectedly a week after the guaranteed date. And all this was before the container and chassis shortages caused by the difference in imports/exports between the US and China (more inbound than outbound), as well as the severe weather in the US that left Texas without power. Version 3 of the transportation issue is how the port backup off the coast of Los Angeles. So, while planning is essential, always add more time for the unexpected.
Here’s an excerpt from INSIDER about the backlog of ship containers:
Ports in Southern California are experiencing a record level of ship congestion, with dozens of container vessels waiting in the ocean to deliver US imports.
The Marine Exchange tweeted a shipping report on Jan 28: 110 ships in port, 7 more than yesterday. 38 container ships at anchor awaiting berth, 5 more than yesterday and another record; 50 at berth. 60 total ships at anchor, 5 more than yesterday’s record. 60 include 3 ships in drift boxes (underway at slow speed in a defined area), the first time we had to use them since 2004. All 10 contingency anchorages in Huntington are filled. We’ll move ships from drift to anchor in the order they arrive if open anchorage is suitable for their length and draft.”
Read the full article for more information here.
The End Result – Longer Lead Times
Pre-COVID, overseas lead times usually ranged from 10-12 weeks from approval to in-store delivery. Our domestic production lead times were the fastest in the industry, with rollout typically completed in 2-3 weeks. Now, we are seeing competitor overseas lead times as long as 18-22 weeks, and domestic from 8-10 weeks. That being said, at the time of this writing we are doing an overseas project landing in the 12-week window, so there are still ways through the system.
It all comes down to the basics – speed, quality, and price. With our capabilities, you’ll always have options so you pull the levers that make the most sense for you.
It’s never too early to talk about the holidays. Call us early and we’ll take care of the rest!