4 Supply Chain Issues in Commercial Flooring and the Key to Dealing with Them

Becoming ever more complex by the day, the current supply chain has presented all of us, not just businesses, with a unique set of challenges. Whether you are buying a recliner for your house, looking for a vehicle for your son or daughter, or in the market for an upcoming flooring project, I am sure you are well aware of products being out of stock or ridiculously overpriced. Here, we will examine four supply chain issues in commercial flooring and the key to dealing with them in the midst of the pandemic and beyond.

4 Supply Chain Issues in Commercial Flooring

Supply / Stock Shortages 

The global supply chain shortage has affected the production of almost everything from toiletries and lumber to computer chips and vehicles. When it comes to the flooring industry, certain products are scarcer than others depending on their raw materials and how they are manufactured.  

Take hardwood flooring for example. “Hardwood production had already dropped 8.2% between 2018 and 2019, which put some sawmills and lumberyards out of business and further reduced supply. Then the pandemic hammered these producers even more, driving down the output of raw materials. By March 2021, production had begun to increase substantially over the previous year, but increasing demand continues to outstrip diminished supply.” 

Delays, Delays, Delays 

In a day and time where we are so accustomed to having pretty much anything we want at the end of our fingertips and onto our doorstep in one to two days, it is hard to fathom a world filled with constant delays.  

Before the pandemic, our supply chain ran rather smoothly — the material left the factory where it was manufactured and either landed inside of a container in a port or on a truck or railway (depending on location) and sent to a distribution facility. From there, the product would be shipped to the customer in a matter of days.  

Today, however, we are facing a major labor shortage and our ports are flooded with containers simply because they are not equipped to deal with such volume. Think about it like this, It is very much like a balloon: you squeeze one end, the other expands, but the balloon does not get any smaller,” said Andy Lane, vice president of advisory services at Copenhagen-based Sea-Intelligence. 

Cost Escalation 

Cost escalation is one of the biggest problems that we face today when it comes to supply chain issues — and unfortunately, it is not just the price of materials that has skyrocketed. Shipping costs are the new concern as it is becoming increasingly difficult to predict pricing with ever-changing additions such as temporary fuel charges and freight charges adding up.  

Maintaining Quality and Sustainability 

Probably the most daunting issue for industries such as ours is maintaining the same quality and sustainability as before the pandemic began. “Within a supply chain, important business processes affect customer satisfaction such as design, production, delivery, support, and supplier-customer relationship processes.” While some of these aspects are within our control, how can one expect to maintain the same quality and sustainability as before with a supply chain that is so uncertain?  

The beginner’s guide to flooring products

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The Key to Dealing with These Supply Chain Issues

One of the most challenging aspects that both project managers and general contractors face each day is managing a supply chain. In commercial flooring, like many other industries, even the smallest of issues at any stage can send a ripple effect throughout a project and negatively affect its outcome.  

So, what can be done? 

The sad truth is that there is no sure-fire solution to fixing issues like stated above at this time. However, providing effective communication and being proactive as possible is key to eliminating major frustrations and ultimately making things run more smoothly.  

Here is a real-life example of why this is important: Jonathan Vice, Sr. Account Manager at Spectra Contract Flooring Tampa, started a job within a church in late 2020. His team specified the project as it was an expansion of a job Spectra had previously done pre-Covid. The goal was simple: get material to match that of the preexisting product and install it. 

Jonathan ordered the material a couple of months prior to installation. The problem — a week before installation and he still did not have any material.  

From there, Jonathan called his distributor to find out what was going on only to be told that the material was in a container on a ship but had no idea when the container would arrive. Obviously, Jonathan could not go to his client and tell them he did not know when he could install their flooring.  

Instead, Jonathan communicated to his client what was going on and sent him other options that were in stock and had identical characteristics such as durability and water resistance. The client decided on a product that happened to save money, which was not the ultimate goal, but a nice addition. Effective communication and the fact that Jonathan acted proactively eliminated potential delays while also maintaining the quality of the substituted material.  

Feel Prepared for your Upcoming Flooring Project Amid the Current Supply Chain

Undertaking a flooring project during these trying times requires foresight and preparedness.  

At Spectra, we have overseen more than 450,000 flooring projects and will work rigorously to overcome any obstacles that present themselves during the landscape of the current pandemic. We will learn about the wants and needs of your facility to ensure a smooth installation from start to finish. Start a conversation today. 

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