Flexon has weathered the storm extremely well due in large part to three key strategies that minimized the effects of world events shaping product supplies and costs. Here’s what we’ve learned.
1. Localize the Supply Chain
Shipping backlogs and port congestion have been particularly bad for the U.S. and China but remain a global issue. Since the pandemic lockdown, reports of panic shoppers are occurring more frequently due to general anxiety, natural disasters, or social trends. Moreover, war in Eastern Europe caused crude oil prices to skyrocket, forcing retailers to reconsider where to source and how to keep their store shelves stocked with products. While many retailers publicly announced their commitment to buying more American products, politicians also introduced legislation to invest in American companies.
At Flexon, we have benefited greatly from both our U.S. manufacturing operations. Prior to the pandemic, we began the expansion of our Anderson, South Carolina, manufacturing facility. Recently adding 200,000 square feet and hundreds of new positions, we now have two manufacturing facilities and six distribution centers across the United States. The expansion increases watering hose production by 150% and doubles our wire production. We also source many of our raw materials domestically. While this may not be possible for others to achieve overnight, our industry can and should work toward the goal.
Meeting the demands of our customers and their consumers on time not only ensures continuity but fortifies the relationships we have with them. By sourcing raw materials and moving manufacturing closer to home, you can avoid many of the pitfalls that come with reliance on imported goods and, as we have experienced, you can dramatically improve delivery times.
2. Sustainability is Good for the Planet … and Good for Business
Though consumers have become increasingly environmentally conscious – with recycling and their purchasing habits – most plastic often ends up in landfills and the ocean. The global pandemic exacerbated this environmental concern due to the high demand for disposable masks, gloves, and wipes.
The 2021 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report addresses global climate change by calling for a transformative approach to climate adaptation with policy that promotes resilient and greener supply chains.
Flexon has always been committed to environmentally sound manufacturing practices and has been at the forefront in using recycled and recyclable materials. Plastic waste such as old shower curtains, pool liners, road cones, or other rejected manufacturing materials are collected to be reprocessed. We incorporate recycled and virgin materials in the watering hose production process, which has numerous positive impacts on the environment. Currently, we recycle more than 50% of materials that would have gone to landfills and our goal is to use over 80% recycled PVC by 2025. In addition, the majority of our in-house packaging is made from recycled paperboard. Moreover, the expansion of our South Carolina facility will enable us to process more scrap and reduce waste.
We encourage others in the industry to use and source recycled materials to help our planet and protect the industry from sourcing issues and the inflationary repercussions.