The Fechino Files: A Proactive Plan for Supply Chain Woes

The Fechino Files: A Proactive Plan for Supply Chain Woes

Steven Fechino

For many years I worked as a project manager for Wasco, Inc.  When I began my career there, I was green. I had two big jobs that were not organized well back in the 90s, which caused me to work harder in a reactive mode rather than a proactive mode. Now, I am a planner with plans B and C ready to go when necessary. I am typically the guy that is planning the logistics of events and shipments two-to-three months in advance. 

The admission for my early career errors is that I would like to prevent this sort of thing from happening to you. The supply chain is now officially stretched; not quite broken, but definitely stretched. As many of us are finishing our punch list on some of our big summer projects and preparing to start the fall projects, it is easy to go from one to another, business as usual.  Well, business is not as usual.  

At the start of every project, we typically write many of our purchase orders at/or near the time we mobilize. Please do not consider this as business as usual. I recommend that any items manufactured using metals or polymers as the raw materials be ordered once the contract is signed. We hear “backorder” as a common term from everything, both at work and at home. This is not getting any better.  Delivery times are now slated for mid-winter delivery of many items that we currently and honestly have taken for granted for years.

I work for Mortar Net Solutions, and we are in the moisture management business. We see prices not being stable for raw goods and availability in shorter demand in everything we purchase. It is real.

I do not know what is next in the short supply world, but I do know I saw the lumber prices skyrocket. For what? I saw ¾ inch plywood at $36.28 last year, priced in June at $79.60 at the Las Vegas Home Depot. Metal prices are all up, for what? I get it, I guess.

I do not have a crystal ball (lord knows I would have broken it by now, as smooth as I am around crystal), ok, back to the article. The items I would consider important to secure before the cooler weather are as follows:

  • Tires. I would try to have lift tires available for replacement at my shop.
  • Tires for my company vehicles, maybe not complete sets, but a few spares in case rubber becomes the next precious item.
  • Mast climber parts that may need to be sourced from great distances.
  • Flashings, termination bar, drip edges, components, and membranes, buy it early on.  
  • Wall wire, you probably have a yard full of it. If you do not, consider stocking some.
  • Anything from overseas, the ports are full, the number of quarantined containers has increased, and the cost has increased six times from last year.
  • Rebar prices have gone nuts.
  • Extruded polystyrene, some companies are out eight weeks for lead times.
  • Walk boards, prices have peaked and stabilized currently

I hope that the summer weather has allowed everyone to work safely. We will get through this supply chain thing, it is just going to take some extra planning, and we will be fine. 

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