This editorial letter originally appeared in WQP September 2021 issue as "Supply Chain & Labor Shortages"
It is amazing how much can change in a short year. Do you remember what your biggest business concerns were in 2020 versus now? Likely instituting PPE standards and keeping up with an influx of consumers increasingly aware of home water quality were top issues. I’ve recently resumed business travel, and it has been lovely to meet readers in person and ask questions. The top two issues I am hearing the most buzz about are the impacts of supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.
Supply chain disruptions have impacted most everyone in the water quality industry, ranging from dealers to OEMs. Transportation logistics remains a driving factor behind this disruption. At a panel discussion at the Water Quality Association (WQA) 2021 Convention & Exposition titled “Uncharted Water in a Post-COVID World,” experts from Culligan Water, Clack Corp., Jacobi Carbons and A.O. Smith unpacked some of these issues and how they have seen them play out in their respective markets.
“There’s only so many containers to take you from point A to B now...” Mike Smith of Jacobi Carbons said at the live panel. “Bottom line is preparedness is key and customer communication,” he continued.
Other experts on the panel reiterated that in a post-COVID world businesses need to be ready to pivot and prepared for the long-term. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the vital role communication — and, indeed, a crisis management plan— has in maintaining resiliency.
Similarly, labor shortages is another top issue the water quality industry is facing. Many in the industry are busier than ever but struggling to find and maintain motivated employees to meet this increased demand. Judd Larned of Culligan Water advised businesses to “take a wholistic talent management approach,” at the panel discussion previously mentioned. Yet, the problem may boil down to retention and figuring out what potential employees want in an evolving workforce landscape.
Despite the many obstacles facing our industry at the moment, I’ll conclude on an optimistic note by sharing a final quote from Greg Reyneke of Red Fox Advisors (read more from Reyneke on page 16) that he shared during a panel on the WQA Consumer Opinion Survey.
“We need to never forget that our job is to not only create safe water, but delicious water,” Reyneke said.
For me, this beautifully sums up the attitude of countless dealers I speak with for WQP’s Dealer of the Month series. Yes, there are challenges to face, but at the end of the day, meeting that two-pronged mission of creating both safe and delicious water is something we can all be proud of.