if it's not in the queue then it's on you quoted over a warehouse loading dock

If it’s not in the queue, it’s on you

The last couple of years have been challenging to say the least.  As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to dwindle into memory (or so it seems), it has certainly left its mark and left us with new challenges in the industry.  Many factories are still short on production workers and not able to produce what they could before the pandemic.  The pandemic has disrupted the global supply chain.  Material shortages and shipping clogs have become a significant setback to production.  As if that weren’t enough, demands in the Broadband industry are skyrocketing as the nation races to provide better broadband to all parts of the country.

Over the last year or so, we’ve seen lead times for fairly standard materials (i.e., hand holes, innerduct, splice closures, fiber cable, etc.) go from the typical week to two weeks to (in many cases) over a year or more.  And on top of that, inflation and great demand have caused prices to skyrocket.  So how can you keep your project on track? First, buy lots and buy often.  As quoted by Dan Levac, National Sales Manager for PLP, “If it’s not in the queue, it’s on you.”

That may come across jokingly, but it’s not entirely off track.  We are working very hard to deliver the message to our customers that the days of thinking about a project in the winter and ordering materials to start construction upon spring thaw are gone. Instead, you’ve got to plan at least a year in advance, if not further, and begin making material purchases as soon as you know the project is coming.

Some manufacturers have limited ordering, canceled existing orders, and even all together stopped taking orders.  In these cases, it’s even that much more important to have conversations with your sales folks sooner than later.  The information chain going upstream to the factories is becoming as crucial to the process as the outgoing products.

By now, it should not be a surprise to anyone in the industry that we’re dealing with long lead times, but it’s up to you to act.  I understand there are cash flow concerns for projects of such cost and magnitude, and you may be forced to make alternative arrangements financially, but if you wait, you’ll be left behind.  There’s just no doubt.

About the Author

Tim Locker

Business Development Manager

Education

BS, Business Administration, Grantham University