Supply chain issues only slightly improved: Special report
August 21, 2022 | 1:28 pm CDT

A new exclusive survey by Woodworking Network shows moderate to massive supply chain disruptions still dominate more than eight out of 10 woodworking businesses.

In the online survey conducted in June, 83.5% of respondents said they still face moderate to massive disruptions in their supply chain.

That compares to nearly 87% who said the same thing a year ago. In fact, the number reporting massive disruptions is actually up to 26.4 % compared to 24.8% a year ago.

In contrast, the number reporting moderate disruptions today (57.1%) is down from 62% a year ago.

The number reporting minor disruptions is up slightly from just under 11% a year ago to nearly 16% today.

And the number reporting no disruption at all today has virtually disappeared, standing at less than 1%, compared to 2.2% a year ago.

Price hikes, delays, backorders
One thing that hasn’t changed is the dominant kinds of disruptions woodworking companies are experiencing. Just as it was a year ago, price hikes, shipment delays, and lengthy backorders are the three leading disruptions reported.

Still, the percentages for reported disruptions are down slightly. A year ago, 90% reported price hikes; today it is 88.6%. A year ago, 88% reported delayed shipments; today it is 79%. A year ago, 74.5% reported long and uncertain backorders; today it is 70%.

That the crisis shows no signs of abating is reflected in the 55.7% today who say there are some products and supplies they can’t get at all. That compares to 57.7% who said that a year ago.

The result is that nearly 60% of respondents today say they can’t deliver their own products on time, which is about the same as a year ago.

Hardware the worst
What products are most disrupted has changed from a year ago. While imported lumber and wood products led the list a year ago, this year nearly 30% of the respondents say imported hardware and supplies are the worst offenders.

Domestic hardware and imported lumber are tied at 15% in today’s survey.

A year ago, domestic lumber was cited as a problem by 18% of respondents, but today that number is down to just 10.7%. That’s behind domestic wood components at 14.3%, a number basically unchanged from a year ago.

Tactics and reactions
Measures that companies are taking to combat the disruptions are largely the same as a year ago.

Leading that list is the search to find other supply sources. Some 77% are taking that tactic today, compared to 70.8% a year ago.

Raising prices is also a popular response with more than 69% reporting this year that they are doing that, as compared to 67% a year ago.

Brand and product loyalty continues to take a hit as 63.6% report having to make substitutions in their product offerings, about the same as last year. The number reporting that they’ve had to cancel projects from supply disruptions is down slightly to 26.4% this year compared to more than a third a year ago.

One in five report having to renegotiate client contracts because of disruptions, which is up slightly from 17.5% a year ago. And the number of shops reporting curtailed production because of supply disruptions also is up slightly to 17.1% from 15% a year ago.

Little movement
Although supply chain problems have been widely reported for more than a year, there seems to be little movement in how seriously the industry sees the problem.

More than 42% report some improvements, but generally sustained widespread disruptions. That’s up from the 30% who experienced widespread disruptions a year ago.

About 28% see the situation as completely unchanged. That number is actually down from 45% a year ago. One in four respondents today see some signs of improvement and say they are learning to work with the situation, an improvement over 21.9% a year ago.

Only 1.4% today report the situation is "back to normal."

Long-term changes
Supply chain disruptions are clearly having a long-term effect on woodworking manufacturers, forcing them to adjust the way they do business into the future.

More than two-thirds (66.4%) say they are extending lead times. Some, 63%, are raising prices. Another 58.6% report expanding their network of suppliers.

Some lean manufacturing programs such as just-in-time systems have taken a hit. About half of the respondents in the survey say they have abandoned JIT programs and are stockpiling at least some supplies. Roughly the same number (48.6%) report accelerating their ordering programs to order supplies earlier and in larger quantities.

This isn’t just a problem for the manufacturers as 23.6% report dropping regular suppliers who have proved unreliable during the crisis. It also affects relations with customers as 28.6% report they are revising contract language to specifically cover supply issues.

About the survey
The Woodworking Network supply chain survey was conducted by email in June to an audience of 43,645. The 140 respondents from that audience results in a margin of error of 6.95% with a 90% confidence level.


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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.