Stanley, NC – Blum Inc. is doing its part to minimize the issues we are all experiencing with the supply chain, said Brian Joyce vice president of sales for Blum US.
Acquiring materials for construction projects has become difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic due to rising demand and a shortage of raw materials. The kitchen cabinet industry has felt the supply chain issues, resulting in longer than normal lead times and causing projects to idle as cabinet shops wait for material.
The supply chain disruption that has developed over the past 17 months is the result of a variety of factors. Initially it was capacity related, then logistics and transportation bottlenecks and now the lack of available raw materials and skilled labor, globally.
Blum’s fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2021, and year-over-year sales showed growth. Recently, Blum US has made significant investments to its North Carolina facility including additional production equipment, building expansions, and in enterprise software to streamline business processes. The impact on capacity is still several months away, but Blum is confident improvement is on the horizon. Our latest marketing efforts have been focused on hiring additional talent so that we can better meet the increased demand.
In early 2021, Blum US implemented a revised ordering procedure for their partners. Each month, Blum partners receive a monthly volume for all key products that they can order. If there is not enough inventory, it is placed on backorder and delivered once material comes available. “It allows us to get product to all our partners based on the material we have,” said Joyce. “We are running as much overtime as possible and working hard to add additional staffing. Though we are maximizing our output, we realize we are falling short of demand and understand the impact it is having on all our customers. We appreciate our customers’ patience while we look to increase supply.
“We know we are not keeping pace with what every customer needs, but currently we just do not have enough to meet demand. If we do not have stock of the exact product our customer is looking for, our customer service representatives and sales associates work to find alternative solutions that meet the needs our customers have.”
The new ordering procedure has slowed down the ordering process slightly, with Blum confirming what can be delivered. “We are doing our best to meet the expectations of our customers, but due to the uncertainty in the supply chain, lead times are constantly being adjusted. We are communicating delays with our customers openly and honestly.
“Not all items face delays,” Joyce continued. “We have a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility here in North Carolina with a dedicated and committed work force putting forth tremendous effort. The flexibility we have because we manufacture here in the US allows us to avoid long lead times other manufacturers face as they wait for material to make its way through the congested ports.” He adds “We understand the importance of transparency to our business partners, allowing them to react to the situation. Our customers may not like the answer we provide, but knowing when product will be available allows them the opportunity to make alternative arrangements.”
Taking on new customers
As inventory tightened and home improvement projects surged, Blum US made the decision to not take on new accounts, placing all its focus on existing partners.
"We have loyal customers that have done business with us for over 44 years, and since the early stages of the COVID pandemic, we have been inundated with calls from companies that could not get product from their regular supplier,” Joyce said. “They wanted to open an account with Blum so they could begin buying product from us; however, we elected not to pursue this new business so that we can support our longtime customers.”
Responses to Blum’s openness has been appreciated with many acknowledging that the level of communication throughout the pandemic has been reassuring. “We want our customers to know they can count on us in the good times and in the tough times,” Joyce said. “We know we have a part in this, and we will continue to improve. The problems we feel today will last into the future, but we will remain open and transparent throughout.”
In planning for the coming year, Joyce anticipates continued challenges. “At this time, we do not expect to see improvement through the first quarter of 2022.”
Brian Joyce states that collaboration is of the utmost importance. By working together to manage consumer expectations, we can minimize the effects of the supply chain. “Homeowners are prepared to accept delays for pretty much everything these days,” he said.
“We are all in this together. Blum will continue to do our best to support demand and we value the relationships we have with our customers. We are working hard to earn back your trust,” Joyce concluded.
For information on Blum Inc., visit www.blum.com.
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