Order Early (and Order Often)!

I was ready to write a positive, uplifting blog. It probably would have been something about the winter doldrums are ending soon, vaccines on the way, blah, blah, blah.  Then one of our executives forwarded an email he received from a major material vendor.  This line was included:

We are full, full, full, out through Oct 1st for 1st delivery with an order today, crazy I know…

This email was dated February 11th!  Please re-read.  Again.  One more time.  Thank you. 

I have read it numerous times.  It still has not sunk in with me that we have an EIGHT MONTH LEAD TIME for materials.  This is a major component for a major product line we sell.  This email came from a sales rep at a significant company.  I know we are not their biggest customer but we purchase a good amount of product from them.  I do not think we are the only customer to get an email like this.  The company might be doing some hedging on the eight months but “months” is not a word normally associated with lead times for materials in our business.  We are not having custom equipment built.

We are trying our best to explain to our customers that the days of short lead times are gone, at least for now.  While 8 months is a little extreme, we are seeing lead times that were normally a day or two stretch to three to four weeks.  We are doing our best to adjust inventory levels and production schedules.

The next several months are going to have their challenges.  Start contingency planning with your suppliers today.  Talk to customers about their forecasts.  Buckle up.  It is going to be a wild ride. 

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