The Time to Act is NOW.

These are challenging times for everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, another week goes by and BOOM!, something worse comes up. Folks, we are living in a George Costanza Seinfeld moment right now: “Worlds are colliding!”

A few weeks ago, I visited my seed and fertilizer supplier here locally in Wisconsin. I knew there was a shortage of grass seed, I just didn’t know how bad it was until I chatted with them about it. Much of the grass seed production in the state of Oregon — where about 90% of cool-season grass seed sold in the United States is produced — was hit hard by a major drought this summer and, in some cases, their production fell victim to wildfire season as well. To think that there will be little, if any, seed available for the next growing season until the 2022 summer crop comes in (hopefully) is more than unsettling for a groundskeeper.

As I continued to chat with my seed and fertilizer supplier, we turned to how China had shutdown all exports of fertilizer that week as well and how that had a major impact on my supplier’s ability to order any fertilizer into their facility for next year. It was beginning to click in my mind just how big the challenges will be for groundskeepers next year.

Jump to Priorities List

These challenges are everywhere, though. At this point, no business and no individual is exempt from the supply chain issues that are plaguing this country and the world in general. The result is much less product is available and what is in supply is at a much higher price. Logistical issues nationally and internationally include: workforce issues, vaccine mandates, mandatory shutdowns or reduced work weeks, transportation & raw material, and power shortages. All of that is on top of drastically higher demand from pent up demand, back to pre-pandemic levels.

Even here at Beacon we have our supply challenges. Many of you may have already experienced some delays in shipping throughout your 2021 season. We have done everything in our power to get product shipped out to back-orders as fast as we can get it into our warehouse. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we work through these challenges. Believe me, we want to get it in your hands as quickly as possible.

So, normally your season ends and you figure you can coast until after the New Year before getting serious about having things lined up for 2022, right? Nope. The time to act for the 2022 season is RIGHT NOW.

 

If you are aware of the challenges we’re all facing, it will inspire you into action. You’ll begin working on securing whatever you need and are budgeted for in your current budget year. Really, it’s just a matter of “being prepared”. And, I’m not just talking about products from Beacon. This applies to all of your suppliers. Here are some actions you should take right now:

  • Talk to each of your suppliers to find out which products may potentially be in short supply, both now and closer to your new season in 2022.
  • Order it now if you know what could be scarce. If something ends up back ordered at least you will be in the queue to get it when it becomes available. Hopefully you are able to also lock in your price for the product as well to avoid any future increases.
  • Speaking of that, avoid future price increases if you can. The sooner you purchase, the more likely you’ll avoid higher prices down the line — both for the product or shipping. Volatile prices means price quotes from suppliers will likely only be valid for a short period. Shipping rates may continue a steady escalation due to shortages in trucks & personnel as well as ever-higher fuel costs spurred by the meteoric rise in oil prices.

Look, I want to be clear. I’m not trying to create panic. I am simply trying to ensure that you are fully aware of these universal challenges moving toward you. My hope is that my advice here will help you be better prepared for your 2022 season. Eventually, solutions will emerge and adjustments will be made and this will all be solved. But experts caution us that this situation won’t be resolved until late 2022 or early 2023. So, the best course of action is to prepare for next season right now. “Worlds are colliding!”

Advice for Addressing Supply Chain Uncertainty

Here are some product categories for you to consider where we can see that taking action sooner rather than later would be highly recommended.

High Priority … ORDER NOW: (in short supply due to hard to come by materials and/or major transportation issues)

Anything with plastic or rubber wheels

Medium Priority … ORDER SOON: (slow to restock, much longer than normal lead-times, or some raw material challenges)

This is by no means a complete list since there is a lot that remains to be seen, but this gives you a glimpse of products that seem likely to encounter the most issues. These priorities will likely change with time, so we recommend staying in touch with our sales staff regarding your needs for 2022.

Together, we can stay prepared through these unusual supply chain challenges so you remain ready ahead of the 2022 season and not caught short.

Paul Zwaska

A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul has been with Beacon for more than two decades. Among his many accomplishments he authored Groundskeeper University, the first online ballfield maintenance training venue. Paul continues to seek innovative ways to help groundskeepers.

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