Article by 2021 GHBA President Keith Luechtefeld, Shea Homes
I anticipated that this final letter would mostly be about welcoming, congratulating, and wishing good luck to our new board leadership team, but I could not let this last opportunity slip away without some final ramblings. And in these final ramblings, I would like to start off by commiserating with you in something I am sure we are all experiencing… supply chain challenges.
We are hearing it on the news, we are reading it online, and we are experiencing it in our businesses and in our personal lives. The world’s supply chain is grinding along at a snail’s pace.
If you look back at our not-to-distant history, the world’s supply chain was a simpler machine. It wasn’t necessarily cost-effective, and I am not saying it was better, but it was simpler. Many materials were locally sourced and locally supplied, or at least nearby supplied.
Over the years as transportation improved and trade agreements proliferated, our supply chain changed. Businesses throughout the world created an efficient, cost-effective supply chain designed to get us what we needed when we needed it. We forecasted better, we evaluated our needs better, and we demanded cost-effective, on-time supplies for everything we did. Then the world changed.
In the most efficient multi-part supply chain, each component of the system operates effectively, does its job, and works together with other components to produce goods, pass goods from one part to another, and ultimately deliver what the customer wants when the customer wants it. In home building and remodeling, we are, for the most part, the last part of that supply chain. We combine materials from multiple vendors, work with trades who have enough capacity to deliver, and provide homes and remodeling projects to our customers. It worked very well – until it didn’t.
Today we are fighting to keep our homes and remodeling projects moving, all while trying to keep our customers happy and to keep our employees from burning out. From lumber to appliances, to tile and brick, to house wrap, engineered beams, countertops, and to the labor that installs all those items, we have all experienced some level of discomfort. And it’s not for lack of effort on the part of all our business partners. These are good companies, many of whom are associate members in our organization, that are also fighting to keep us, their customers, happy.
When does it all end? I have no idea. I have no crystal ball, and I don’t have a magic solution for it either. I also don’t think our supply chain is going back to the way it was 50 years ago, and I’m not sure it should. It was working pretty well before the pandemic. I do think some things will change over time, and I am confident things will improve again at some point. In the meantime, all I can tell you is that now, maybe more than ever, communication is key. Communicate with your trades and suppliers, and communicate with your customers. It really won’t solve the challenges, but it might be the best we can do today.
I would also tell you that it matters to say “thank you” every once in a while. All the stress that you feel in your business today is likely being felt by every person you are doing business with and all of your customers. People do like to be appreciated for what they do.
Finally, I turn my attention to the GHBA’s new board leadership. We have a great incoming board in 2022, and a highly talented incoming board president, Jennifer Keller. Just as I did, she will rely on the great staff of the GHBA to see her through her tenure (see my article from last month), and she will look to each of you to continue to do your part to advocate on behalf of our industry. Because that is what the GHBA is all about – advocacy for its members.
With that, I conclude my final ramblings. I hope to see you all around.