Local businesses stuck in limbo with supply chain shortages

One local operations manager blames ongoing delays on communication breakdowns between manufacturers and distributers.

Posted: Oct 21, 2021 7:33 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The nationwide supply shortage has businesses in limbo right now with extra-long wait times for packages.

But at Associated Heating and Air Conditioning, they've managed to keep their shelves full. Operations manager Jason Peterson said this took months of preparation, going all the way back to the summer. They bought things in bulk once they noticed things starting to get thin.

"This summer is when we really started to notice the supply chain problem, and we made adjustments from that point on to today," Peterson said.

Peterson said a communication problem is the reason things are taking so long to get shipped.

He said the manufacturers and distributers are not in sync, causing a timeline issue. It's only predicted to get worse. They're also struggling with their labor force.

To put this into perspective, normally Peterson would order a product and get it within a few days or the next day. Now he orders it immediately but warns customers it could take weeks or months.

Their systems require several parts, and if one is missing, they can't start to work. This is why he's encouraging customers to call immediately.

"If you are on the fence about purchasing a new heater/cooling system, I cannot stress enough that you make it a point to put that discussion on the forefront because I don't see things getting better anytime soon," Peterson said.

Peterson said they typically install four to six systems a day.

This isn't just a business issue; he said if things don't improve, customers needing repairs could be left without heat during the winter.

"Because we are in trouble now, if the supply chain issues don't come up with a resolution, we'll get to the point in the entire industry for all contractors where we will not be able to serve the customer with what our normal approach is. We'll have to put people out a decent amount," Peterson said.

The problems at the ports aren't just the big ports like Seattle and California. Margaret Barber, director of external affairs at the Port of Coos Bay, said it could be a few years before things get back to normal.

"I think the truck driver shortage is the biggest challenge, and why you aren't seeing a lot of food on the grocery store shelves," Barber said.

Barber called this a "black-swan event."

"For us, if there's a shortage of workers, whether it's up the waterfront or truck drivers to move stuff for our customers -- that's our largest challenge," Barber said.

She said they are seeing slow movement throughout their port right now because of this labor shortage.

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