Supply, demand and a sense of value

Blog Post

A perfect storm?

As an industry, fenestration isn’t alone in currently experiencing supply problems. We’re not alone in having issues meeting demand either. The question is, could we have done more to manage the situation?

The disruption wreaked on both national and international supply chains by COVID-19 wasn’t something anyone was prepared for. Even those companies with robust disaster recovery plans would, most likely, have been considering local issues. Few would have imagined a crisis affecting the whole world or predicted the duration of its impact.

Brexit, of course, is a different kettle of fish. We knew about the deadline. We knew about the worst-case scenario and that we could plan for it. But what no-one foresaw twelve months ago, was that we would be dealing with delays in trade with Europe in the middle of a global pandemic.

There’s no place like home.

If that wasn’t enough, the measures put in place to reduce the transmission of the virus have increased demand for certain items. For example, every schoolchild now needs a laptop to study their lessons. Everyone needs a home office: a desk, a suitable chair and better broadband. Fenestration has seen a massive spike. If you can’t go on holiday, you spend on other things: updating your glazing or buying a new front door.

Now the extra demand has been welcome. I won’t pretend it hasn’t and, in these uncertain times, it’s been good for the team at Lancashire Trade Frames to know the order books are healthy. But we’ve now hit a point where the supply of some components and consumables can’t keep up.

Nobody wants to be in this situation. It’s unfortunate, but hopefully, it’s temporary. Suppliers and customers will find their way through this. Markets might not look quite the same and supply routes may be quite different, but it will settle.

Recognise the commitment.

In the meantime, it’s worth considering the notion of scarcity and its effect on how we value things.  If we have no difficulty getting everything we want, is the satisfaction the same as if we need to wait a short while? Do we really appreciate the work that’s gone into readily available things?

As a society, we’ve become very used to suppliers being able to fulfil orders almost instantaneously. Being told we must wait is more than inconvenient: it’s almost seen as an affront. Yet if we look at the reason for the hold-up and dig beneath the surface, we’ll find a chain of businesses, each one committed to keeping their operations running, even though the spares they need for an essential machine are still being cleared through customs and half their staff are self-isolating.

This isn’t a time for complaining about delays. It’s a time for patience and understanding. We’re one of many thousands of businesses working to minimise disruption while acknowledging that some delays are inevitable.  We can’t fix everything, but we are doing what we can. And when a long-awaited shipment arrives, allowing us to complete an order and get it shipped, we’ll value it, because we’ll know the effort that has gone into getting it to us.