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Continuing Supply-Chain Challenges, Solutions (Part 2)

CSCNetwork webinar continues with panelists discussing issues, sharing advice

CHICAGO — David Bernstein, executive director of CSCNetwork, a resource for independent laundry and linen services, says that pandemic-induced challenges in the global supply chain continue as the world works to recover from COVID-19.

Entire sectors of the global economy—manufacturing, transportation, logistics and energy, just to name a few—are being strained beyond their limits.

“Under normal circumstances, disruption in any one of these sectors could cause temporary ripples in global markets, but when they occur simultaneously it creates a perfect storm,” Bernstein points out.

CSCNetwork hosted the webinar “The Perfect Storm: Managing Supply Chain Risks in 2021,” reviewing what caused the crisis, how long experts expect it to last, strategies and tactics to help with supply-chain planning, sourcing, and procurement, and what laundry-industry professionals can do in the long term to protect their businesses.

Bernstein moderated the webinar panel, which consisted of American Dawn’s Jeff Landry, director of global solutions, and Steve Kallenbach, director of market solutions; Jon Wynkoop, CFO of Gurtler Industries Inc.; Jeremy Lott, president of SanMar Corp.; and Ty Acton, president of Tingue.

After Landry’s supply-chain overview, Bernstein allowed each panelist an opportunity to introduce themselves and share what supply-chain challenges their companies are facing.

Then he asked the participants to share their greatest challenges and solutions to help laundry operators.

BIGGEST PROBLEMS, STRATEGIES (PART 1)

BERNSTEIN: I’m curious to know briefly from each of you, which of these challenges would you say is the biggest problem for you? And what advice and strategies would you give to folks who own or operate laundries—Jeff?

LANDRY: I would say at this point the largest impact we have is having supply, and it’s due mostly to the transportation issues. Our offshore products we have the ability to produce, the costs are increasing with the difficult challenges to transport it.

The only advice, and we are doing this with our customer base, is trying to make sure that they are open to alternative products that are similar.

We produce so many products that are almost identical, but customers have kind of put themselves where they want to be able to differentiate it, which is fine in normal times, but there are times where you might have to take an alternate product at basically the same cost, same performance. Maybe it has a little different look or doesn’t necessarily have the stripe you want, but it will perform the same functionality.

So, we’re trying to get our customers to be flexible, to take product we have in stock because the products that are coming in, it’s almost undefinable about when we’re going to be able to get them on a boat, off the boat, into the warehouse and shipped to a location.

BERNSTEIN: Jeremy, would you say the same thing, or is it a different issue?

LOTT: It’s very much the same thing for us. It’s our inventory levels, and the ability to how fast we can move them back is our biggest problem. And so our customers, just like Jeff said, we encourage flexibility in terms of the product that they’re choosing.

So, if you know an end-user wants this jacket or this shirt, make sure we’re showing them multiple options. They’re going to perform well but maybe are slightly different than the one they want.

And I just think we have to really think differently about availability and really try to plan ahead, provide options on different product. I think that’s going to be the best way that we all get through this together.

BERNSTEIN: Steve, from a marketing perspective, how do you help your customers when they need this style of widget but you can only provide this other style, which is similar. How do you help them deal with that with the end-users as well?

KALLENBACH: The largest issue is a different mode of communicating. When things are going great, we’re all rolling along—and then we’re reactive to the outliers, right? In this case, we need to, as an industry, change the way that we communicate to customers. It needs to be proactive.

They should be hearing what you’re hearing today so that they don’t sit there and guess why is my stuff not showing up. Well, if they knew this information, they would probably come to you and say, what other options do I have?

So we need to educate them and be proactive about that, and then I think the journey will be much easier for all of us because they want to be partners as well. We want to be partners with our customers. Our customers have customers as well, and we just need to open up and make sure that they understand what the dynamics are.

I think most of America probably understands that there’s a commodity pipeline issue right now. That there’s a bottleneck and there’s going to be a bottleneck, but I’m not sure everybody really understands the total picture and not that they need to know as much as (we do), but I think it needs to make sense.

And to me when I’m teaching, I want to make things simple and understandable and memorable and just have it make sense. So, that would be my advice from a marketing perspective: Change the message to simple and memorable so that they help you.

Miss Part 1 with an overview of the supply-chain issues the industry is facing? Click HERE to read it! And come back Thursday for the conclusion of the panelists’ discussion.