Surviving the supply chain crunch

By Mark McLeod

Boy oh boy! Once again in our industry we are seeing and feeling the crunch in supply chains all across our country, but all is not lost folks! Let’s take a history lesson from this current situation.

As a 50 year veteran of the pavement maintenance industry, I have witnessed many shortages of supplies needed to make pavement maintenance products and application equipment. The pavement maintenance industry is a very resilient industry that seems to survive and at times flourishes with a down turned economy. Why? We adapt!

For example, in many past economic turmoils I’ve lived through, pavement maintenance contractors showed marked increases in sales due to their clients cost cutting budget models during those times, instead of overlaying their asphalt parking lots and drives, they chose to maintain their existing pavement with patching, crack sealing and sealcoating, avoiding a huge capital improvement budget hit!

Savvy property owners realizing their properties look great after hiring a professional pavement maintenance contractor to patch, crack seal, and seal their lots enjoy a tremendous savings compared to overlaying, opens doors for the contractor to gain more work in these troubled economic times. Property owners also see that they can extend the service life of their pavements at a much lower cost than overlaying.

Yes, there is much to be said when you are talking about resiliency in our industry when contractors and manufacturers are faced with difficult times like we are in today!

To say it has been a hard year after the Covid-19 shut down, and add a once in a lifetime polar freeze that froze 60% of the polymer production in the USA, setting off shortages of latex, acrylic, monomers etc. All key ingredients in our industry.

Anti-oil politicians have been jumping on the “ban” wagon reducing our supply while increasing our pricing! This is a true problem that I feel will not be corrected until mid 2022.

Labor! “A big issue for contractors” says Brad Eagle national sales director for Maintenance Inc. “It’s a real problem that is not being talked about”. We know the life blood of any professional pavement maintenance company are their employees and quality work. Contractors are struggling to find employees that want to work. I hear the stories when they come in and it’s a real issue. Finding quality labor is their number one issue!” Said Eagle. “And paying people not to work is affecting everyone who works.”

As a manufacturer, I am grateful I’m an essential business that has kept my doors open to service my professional pavement maintenance contractors throughout the pandemic.

All industry manufacturers are feeling these shortages and breaks in the supply chain. For instance, some paints and some types of sealer ingredients have also been rationed! I can tell you when we have to tell a contractor you do not have it and no one else has it, it’s a heart breaker and a lost sale! No one wins.
It should be a wake-up call for all of us in the pavement maintenance contracting and manufacturing industry that we are not immune to shortages!

However, we are a resilient industry that works together to get through these troubled times.

So, I ask all pavement maintenance contractors to understand that their manufacturer is, as we all are, ‘’trying” to keep the products flowing and available through this unusual situation. Many supply chains have been rationing ingredients to manufacturers and it trickles down from there. But our industry is solid and essential. We again will prevail in time. So, hang in there and sell! Sell!

We must all look back on history when we all survived the fuel shortages, asphalt shortages, benzine scare, silicosis scare, parts shortages, and so on and so on!

But what have we learned from all these trials and tribulations? That all of us in this great industry, manufacturers and contractors alike will survive and be talking about it for many years to come.

It feels so good to write again to all my readers and hopefully we will continue making the right decisions as an industry and move forward tomorrow, with what we are learning today.

Until next time, “happy sealing!”

Mark McLeod, President CEO Maintenance Inc. Pavement Products