The Supply Chain Blues

The Supply Chain Blues

Jun 10 , 2021

"I’m writing this message in response to current supply chain issues we are aware of, including human capital and physical supplies. In addition to our own recent challenges, I’ve had several conversations this week that point to the pace of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic as being slow and the costs high." This is the first paragraph of a letter I composed to our entire team this afternoon- one that was not fun to write. 

 The culminating conversation took place between our sales rep with an approved supplier and myself last evening. Our primary ingredients supplier is no longer able to guarantee deliveries because they are unable to employ enough drivers to meet the schedule. The sale rep himself made three deliveries off the truck yesterday.

For most of this year, those of us at the top of the company management chain have carried an ongoing discussion of supply chain constraints and ensuing challenges.  Last evening we determined steps we see as necessary in order to do our best to ensure we can continue to simply meet our orders, say nothing about building inventory and planning for continued increased volume from both current and new accounts- which we really need to be able to do in order to build a future that includes availability to more celiac, gluten sensitive and food allergic dessert lovers and their friends and families. 

Our first experience with physical materials constraints was a delay in delivery of the food grade packaging we use for our desserts. Pallets of packaging lay on a boat in the ocean waiting to come onshore for delivery. And we have discussed the relative safety of sourcing  our ingredients here in the US, but now are watching that safety dissipate with our primary supplier being unable to guarantee on-time delivery. 

Nationwide businesses are having trouble finding employees for their teams. Everywhere you go, look around: You will see “Help Wanted” signs. While the reasons for this reality are complex, the situation is still a simple reality. I had a conversation with the CEO of one of our packing materials supplier companies on Tuesday afternoon. Demand for boxes and insulation for shipping is exploding, and he has had to raise starting wages to recruit new team members multiple times so far this year. 

And we at Gem City Fine Foods are keenly aware of the difficulty of recruiting team members as we see increasing demand for our products. We've lost two new employees in a single month and have made many more interview appointments, only to have wasted valuable time on no-shows.

Back to our ingredients supplier: At least one driver has walked away from a truck on a delivery run because when there are fewer people to meet demand for work, those people are overextended and burn out and become digruntled. Our skeleton crew at the bakery knows what this is like- and those who have not walked off the job despite an increased workload are gold. I promise personally they will reap the rewards of sticking around. We are a team and will figure this out together- and laugh and sing and dance and have fun while doing so!

--By the way, we are still hiring if you want to join us and help out! Check out our Baker and Assistant Baker postings on our Facebook page, Indeed, and KSL. 

Covid hasn’t gone away just because some of us have a couple shots. People all over the world are having difficulty getting vaccinated. In Costa Rica, for instance, our recent fellow reported, young people her age are looking at October for their first shot. Now, bring that kind of timeline into the country where plastics are made and shipped, or chocolate grown and processed… You get the picture.

Supply chain is a fascinating topic. If you are interested in learning more, please join us for our upcoming series on Distribution in the "How Did This Thing Get Onto My Plate" segment of our Wednesday Lunch'N Watch Facebook Live stream (12:15 MST.) You will find the schedule here.

I'll keep you posted as we employ strategies to relieve supply chain stress. Meanwhile, recovery will take care of some of the strains. Let's hope it doesn't just replace those with new ones. 



Lisa Cox is CEO/ SVP Sales & Marketing

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