The challenges of today’s supply chain cast a constant shade over the presentations during the recent ProDealer Industry Summit in Washington, D.C. In one particular presentation, the spotlight shined directly on the subject.
The bottom line from the session – titled “How to manage an unpredictable supply chain” — would read something like this: communicate, communicate and communicate.
“It’s about relationships,” said Mike Reeves, president of Espy Lumber Co. of Hilton Head, S.C. “I mean, you've got to communicate with your customer, you've got to communicate with your vendors, and that's the only way that this thing works.”
Reeves was joined on the panel of like-minded group of lumber-industry insiders who explored the topic of communication, recruitment, sales and strategy, all under the pressures of supply chain shortages.
“There are times where we are up against our engineered wood allocation,” he said. “But because we share the same distributor as our competitor down the street, we sometimes worked together. If they haven’t used all their allocation, we borrow from them, and we reciprocate. So developing some strategic alliances or friendly competitive partnerships can prove to be beneficial at a time like this.”
Another is to go throw your business behind a supplier that’s been a steady supplier in times good and bad.
“As a company, we try to be the best customer that we can be for that supplier,” Hopkins said. “We’re going all-in.” The strategy is designed to boost support from suppliers in times of scarcity, and it’s worked well so far,” he said.
Similarly, Hamilton Building Supply of New Jersey sharpened its focus.
“We actually narrowed our line card down prior to the pandemic, just so that we could align with certain vendors in each product scope, and that's worked out well for us up to this point,” said Perna.
Finding alternative suppliers to fill gaps is a challenge, but Hamilton Building has worked diligently on that front.
We're big advocates for offering alternative product solutions, and doing it not at reactionary but more proactive in the buying process,” Perna said.