KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Apr 13 2010

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A recovering economy and growing pains

I’ve been noticing lately a decided slippage in quality control, both from manufacturers and suppliers. It’s beyond frustrating and something that isn’t likely to be solved in the near future.

On the positive side, it’s an annoying byproduct of conditions I’ve experienced before, so I thought I’d translate for those of you surviving your first recession in our industry:

Welcome to the first signs of economic recovery.

For the last two years, we’ve pared back—from design firms to showrooms, manufacturers to shipping companies, suppliers to local stores. (Yes, I should tell you something you don’t know, right?)

However, lately I’ve been hearing demand is up. One of my cabinetry reps mentioned to me last week that he noticed a 30% increase in sales from his California dealers alone.

Now picture the manufacturers’ dilemma. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have an assembly line with a skeleton crew and then getting 30% more work. Even in our small design/build firm, a modest increase in our spring workload has added substantially to our crew’s time management skills. Each of them is talented enough to perform two or three different skills.

Skills, I should point out, we once hired separate individuals for.

We don’t yet need an extra team member; we need half. If the next few clients give their go-ahead this month, we’ll be hopping—and perhaps hiring.

It’s still early yet, and my crystal ball’s a bit foggy, but here’s what I expect to see the next few months.

Manufacturers and suppliers still aren’t quite busy enough (or flush enough) to hire extra folks to manufacture or ship smaller orders. Not yet, anyway, which means if the truck’s full, the orders are away, even if the molding was damaged at the factory, or some newbie dinged a panel and thought it would be a good idea to finish it himself so he wouldn’t have to stop the line, or any number of little aggravations we’ll need to brace for.

Or, conversely, if the truck isn’t full enough, we’ll be waiting an extra month for our wall sconces (how many of you noticed that already?) and then hope the supplier has enough bodies to dig them out to ship them.

Now you know. Prepare your clients to expect some hitches in the road, but look on it as something positive. This, too, shall pass.

Until next time~


This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Business, Trends, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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