How Bad Will the Supply Issues Get?

Supply shortages are starting to seem normal, but will these shortages continue? Snow Plow News takes a deep dive into the snow and ice industry to find some answers.

October 19, 2021 | Mike Stevens

We’ve never seen it like this before—sentiments of all those involved in the manufacture, distribution, sales, installation and delivery of snow and ice control products. The question is, how bad or how long will the product shortages and high prices last?  

This is the scene more often as you visit your neighborhood stores. If there is no ice cream then what does that have to say for snowplows, spreaders, and repair parts for these products?

Central Parts Warehouse, located in Illinois has taken to alerting their customers and fans on the state of affairs via social media communications. Here is what Central Parts provided as far as lead times recently:

  • Boss Snowplows has delays anywhere from 2-12 weeks
  • Buyers which sells the SnowDogg and SaltDogg brands and replacements parts for all other brands lists all equipment lead times at 7 weeks
  • Wester, Fisher and SnowEx 8-10 weeks going forward
  • Meyer Spreaders 90–120 days, Meyer Plows 3-6 weeks, Meyer Drive Pro 6-8 weeks
  • Swenson Spreaders 90 – 120 days and Parts 30-45 days

Is this the manufacturer’s fault?

We chatted with Terry Wendorff, president of Sno-Way International, who stated, “It’s not one thing that is causing these delays, it is many. In the case of some components, we can get the shipment to the rail yard in Chicago, but then the yard cannot unload the car. When they finally unload the rail car, the container is stacked in the yard somewhere as they do not have the resources to load it on a truck. Then the shortage of truckers eliminates any chance of getting the product at any promised schedule.” In talking with other manufacturers, this is certainly the case. It would seem that any promise of availability is only as good as the manufacturers’ ability to work the system as best as possible. In some cases, we have heard that the manufacturer might pay 2x the cost of a load just to get the shipment in. Manufacturers are doing everything in their power to keep dealers stocked up even as they see margins shrinking dramatically in any cases.

What can the dealer do?

Speaking with Pete Simpson of Traffic Safety in Mahwah, NJ, he said, “We have had a great year in comparison to last up to this point, as many of our loyal customers have heard that supply is low, so they are buying much earlier than they ever have. But everybody knows that this will come to a sharp end in a matter of weeks. Heck, I am even waiting for some plows and parts that I ordered back in the early order period in March. Who knows when that will really hit my floor?” Pete said he is doing everything he can to be fully stocked with service parts for his loyal customers this winter.

How long will the consumer be paying more and waiting longer?

Many of the manufacturers meeting at the GIE Expo in Louisville, KY this week are talking about the same subject. The consensus is that no one really knows how long these factors will be in place and if prices ever go back to the level from 18 months ago. Speaking to a key snow and ice industry veteran, the number of leaders that think this supply situation will last into 2023 is growing. Most feel the pandemic did not necessarily cause this issue, but the reaction to the pandemic has certainly exposed how fragile some supply chains really are.  

Contractors will Adapt

One thing is for certain, contractors need to take care of their businesses, employees and families and they will always find a way to do that, even if they need to switch brands or practices. Will at Xtreme Fabrication, in Maryland, stated that many of his loyal customers are looking at different machinery and snow and ice removal products that they would never have considered before. Will has experience with just about every type of equipment from UTV’s to skid steers to tractors to Oshkosh trucks and is happy to lend his expertise to get his customers ready for the season ahead.

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