Manufacturers worldwide are struggling to navigate today’s supply chain challenges—and we’re willing to bet you’re one of them. From small shops to enormous enterprises, NTMA members of every size and specialty face cost increases and insurmountable delays.
Shortages, Delays, and Skyrocketing Costs
From Reata Engineering in Englewood, Colorado, NTMA member Tawny Bush describes how shortages continue to impact the Reata team and what they’re doing to keep the business on track.
“My main challenges are material shortages—or the inability to find things at all,” says Tawny, who also laments “extreme lead times, prices that have skyrocketed, freight issues, delays, and lack of communication due to staffing shortages.”
Every day at NTMA, we hear similar frustrations from job shops across the country. When learning how to run a machine shop, no one expected they’d also need to know how to manage a 350% increase in freight costs.
Despite seemingly endless supply chain frustrations, Tawny and other manufacturing professionals are pulling together to identify solutions and implement new procedures. Manufacturers are, after all, a scrappy lot known for overcoming and adapting.
Solving Supply Chain Challenges, One Problem at a Time
If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that we’re all in this together, rain or shine. Pointing fingers won’t get anyone anywhere! In a modern machine shop like Reata, teamwork is critical to success, and every team member understands how essential they are to the business as a whole.
By embracing a culture of teamwork, manufacturing professionals like Tawny provide value that stretches far beyond her company’s walls to support others in her field.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
When challenges arise, communication matters more than ever. Shops that try to hide their supply chain challenges won’t thrive for long, as untruths and manipulations never stay hidden. Instead, prioritize clear communication both internally and with customers.
“I reach out to my team at least once a week to request status updates for orders,” Tawny tells us, explaining that she records every update in Reata’s database. “That way, my team can stay informed, schedule accordingly, and communicate any delays to our customers.”
Don’t wait for your customers to inquire before providing them with a status update. Your customers want vendors they can trust, and one of the best ways to build trust is through prompt and clear communication—even if the news isn’t ideal.
“If you communicate openly and honestly about increases in pricing and lead times, customers are much more accepting,” Tawny says.
Maintain multiple vendor options
Tawny tries to maintain relationships with multiple vendors so that when one can’t meet Reata’s request, another can (hopefully) fill the supply chain gap. She sometimes has to search online or reach out to friends, colleagues, or even customers to identify alternative purchasing sources.
The NTMA member network provides an extensive support community to modern machine shops that have pressing questions or need help tackling challenges.
Collaborate to leverage savings
While NTMA provides members-only discounts and savings for shops, companies like Reata also find ways to pass along savings to their customers.
When arranging delivery with a customer, “we specify the freight or small parcel shipping company and provide our account numbers,” Tawny says. “By using our discounted rates, customers can save a small fortune!”
Customers also feel more at ease when shipping with a trusted provider. Tawny explains, “The chances of items getting damaged or lost are lower.”
Keep kindness at the forefront
Today’s supply chain challenges aren’t within our control, but they won’t last forever. When the current chaos ends, will you be able to say you’ve done all you could to preserve healthy customer relationships? Were you kind and communicative? Did you take every opportunity to put your best foot forward?
“I consider them friends,” Tawny says of Reata’s preferred vendors. “I have built and maintained great relationships with them, and they go above and beyond to help when issues arise. Even with vendors we don’t use frequently, kindness goes a long way!”
Practices like Tawny’s should be the standard—both in times of struggle and overabundance.
Share Your Supply Chain Solutions with the NTMA Community
Tap into your NTMA network and leverage the experience and insights our members have to offer. When we lift one another up, we can collectively find the support we need.
Tawny says it well: “The best advice I can give is to use your resources and be kind because we are all in this together.”
Join today and connect with NTMA colleagues in your area!