What This Could Mean for Your Project
The supply chain shortage has affected every business and consumer on the planet — and over the past year or so, we’ve all seen and experienced what happens when it breaks down.
Everyone has probably walked through their local grocery store and seen the empty shelves. Whether it’s toilet paper, paper towels, foodstuffs, or toiletries, the supply chain shortage has also caused havoc with the materials used in manufacturing.
These days, you’re more likely to see shortages of parts, materials, and stuff that makes other stuff, like building materials and mechanical parts. For example, car lots are empty and both new and used car prices keep climbing higher. We’ve all heard about the chip shortage that every car manufacturer is experiencing. Demand has overrun supply, which is unprecedented in the auto industry. The chip shortage has limited the production of every make of automobile.
The marine and boating industry has been impacted by the same issues in massive ways as well. This is why BoardSafe Docks wants you to understand how the supply chain may affect the manufacturing and pricing of your kayak launch, marina, rowing center, gangway, or pedestrian bridge. A confluence of two major factors has created a situation for everyone where demand is greater than supply.
- The interest in kayaking, paddle sports, and adaptive recreation has seemed to reach an all-time high as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Paddlesports have proven to be a wonderful exercise for the mind, body, and spirit. Paddling is a way for people to be together yet remain safely distanced from each other. Its interest took off when the pandemic was shutting down our world.
- The entire country and every industry is now working through a serious supply chain shortage. Our most critical materials used in the manufacturing and fabrication of our aluminum floating docks, gangways, and bridges, are in high demand with low supply.
For more information and better understanding, keep on reading.
First, let’s take a look at the major components of the parts and materials we use in the production of our floating dock systems.
- composite deck lumber
- concrete decking
- plastic encapsulated flotation
- our proprietary extrusions
- protective rub rail trim
- tools used in the fabrication and maintenance of these systems
- and much more
Material shortages have not only stretched out the timetables on many of our projects but they’ve also (unfortunately) made many elements of these projects cost more than originally anticipated. The increase in the cost of these materials has been passed on to us and also our customers.
We wrote this article to help you understand the specific reasons behind the longer timetables we’re experiencing as a manufacturer and to explain the higher costs you might be experiencing in 2022.
All dock manufacturers, including BoardSafe Docks, have been dealing with the same supply chain issues, which we’ll explain in the rest of this article.
Material shortages and price increases exist in all facets of our production (aluminum, composite and concrete decking, flotation, extrusions, rub rail)
Aluminum, which is used to manufacture a wide range of durable waterfront products, suffered a severe production downturn when the initial lockdowns swept across the world about a year ago. Deliveries of raw aluminum are in short supply and prices for aluminum have been steadily increasing over the past year. To keep our pricing accurate, we’ve been tracking the steady increase in the price of aluminum starting back in 2021. Beginning in January 2021, and up through April 2022, we’ve seen the cost of aluminum increase 75 – 80% over last year’s prices. While inflation has caused prices to rise everywhere as we know them, an 80% increase is shocking to us all.
The reserve aluminum supplies across the USA are depleted. We used to be able to call our aluminum supplier and arrange for a next-day or 2-day delivery. Not anymore.
As a result of the pandemic and material shortages, product delivery of our custom extrusions orders can be as far as 8 months out. Our distributor’s products are stuck out at sea on shipping containers, waiting to be unloaded and delivered across the country. Before the pandemic, we all took the supply chain for granted; we didn’t even think about the logistics industry. The supply chain shortage has changed the way warehouses, manufacturers, trucking companies, and distribution centers, conduct their business. The Wall Street Journal recently noted that aluminum producers are now seeking new avenues to get their hands on scrap metal like old cans (link to article).
Composite decking prices have increased by about 25% since January 2021. However, we’ve been very fortunate in that our composite decking supplier has been able to meet our order requests in a timely manner. With decking, our only concern has been the increase in its pricing.
Plastic encapsulated flotations are the floats that are attached under our floating docks and gangways that keep them afloat. From the time of order, we’re now experiencing 8 – 12 weeks in lead time, about 3 months. Flotation has also experienced a 25% price increase since we began tracking these costs.
Rub rail is the rubberized trim attached to the perimeter of our dock systems that serves as the protective guard around our floating docks. Our supplier of this extruded product has informed us there’s about a 12-week (3-month) turnaround for them to get the rubber compounds they use to make the custom extrusions for our systems. The pricing for our rub rail insert has increased by 20% since 2021.
The COVID-19 lockdown felt like the mother of all supply chain disruptions when businesses were forced to shut down early in 2020. Only those deemed “essential” were allowed to remain open. We’re all paying the costs for it now. Everyone continues to experience the consequences of the pandemic with no real end in sight. Inflation is on the rise and we’ve seen increases in the price of homes, cars, gasoline, and food. Our products are not immune to these increases.
Severe weather, hurricanes, and employment shortages, add to the consequences of the pandemic. Since many of our producers of raw materials are overseas, the shipping standstill has deprived manufacturers of our most critical supplies.
Aluminum is in the middle of the greatest demand surge ever seen or experienced in its industry. This high demand is happening despite its 80% increase in cost. And prices continue to go up without lessening its demand.
What this means for manufacturers and their customers
In short, the market for kayak launches, marinas, gangways, and rowing centers, (with their main material being aluminum), has been hit by the perfect storm of perfect storms. However, we’ve survived the pandemic shutdowns, COVID, employee shortages, weather disruptions, supply chain shortages, and increased pricing for our main materials.
If you look at these events as a whole and look at the big picture, none of us ever imagined we’d experience events like these in our lifetime.
Like other dock builders and producers of goods and services, we’re working as hard as we can to design and manufacture each individualized project that we’ve planned with our customers. The simple reality is that we can’t work any faster if we want to maintain our industry-leading standards that BoardSafe is very proud of. Nor can we overcome supply chain issues and increased costs when they’re simply out of our control — regardless of our desire and efforts to prevent them.
One change we’ve been forced to make as a company regards the bidding and quotes of our marine products. We can no longer hold the price of our bids for longer than 30 days. In the past, when there weren’t drastic changes and increases in the cost of raw materials, our bid remained the bid. While we work hard to keep our prices fair, we must keep a close eye on what we’re paying for materials and their delivery fees.
Educating our customers and communicating these changes are important to us. If at any time you feel you need more information to make an informed decision about your product’s pricing, our sales team is always available to answer your questions.
How customers can help keep our industry moving forward
If you’re planning to do business with us, we’ve explained the length of time it’s taking to get our materials for production. The length of time is not something we or any other dock builder can control. Please don’t wait until the last minute to confirm your order with us. There’s a new game in town, and with demand being so much greater than supply, aluminum suppliers are requiring upfront payments for their orders, as well as a customer’s signed purchase order to show evidence that our order is designated to a specific job. You see, demand for aluminum is so high, suppliers do not want to see manufacturers stockpile aluminum like many people were doing with toilet paper, paper towels, and disinfecting wipes in 2020. The price increase of manufacturing materials has also caused material suppliers to proceed with caution to ensure they’re getting paid in a timely manner for the materials they sell.
Working together on payment terms
The deposits we need to pay to material suppliers guarantee our place in line for the raw materials we need to build your job. Our deposit helps keep our supplier’s cash flow flowing. And since we need to pay for your materials in advance of receiving them, a deposit from you on your project is a reasonable request in today’s market. We understand that this can sometimes create hardship for all parties involved. However, due to increased material costs, we want our customers to understand why a deposit and clear payment terms are necessary.
BoardSafe Docks has absorbed a massive increase in up-front costs for all of our jobs. Therefore, our ability to be flexible with our terms has been greatly reduced. Final payment for our projects is expected upon delivery and installation. Our employees need to be paid, our overhead costs need to be satisfied, and our trucking companies and installation teams expect the same courtesy from us. Therefore, we appreciate you working with us to support these terms and prompt payment for the quality products and services that BoardSafe stands behind.
We’ve already entered the spring season of 2022. Kayaking and rowing season is just a few weeks away. We know our customers want their launch, gangway, bridge, rowing center, or marina project, to be installed in a timely manner and ready to go for the approaching summer season.
Every dock builder and manufacturer is doing their best to meet customers’ installation wishes. But the obstacles identified in this article will likely continue to affect our entire industry (and many others) for the foreseeable future.
So, whether you’re planning on getting your launch, gangway, pedestrian bridge, rowing center, or marina from BoardSafe Docks, we can only say this:
Let’s keep pushing through this together, with everyone doing what they’re responsible for to get the job completed in a timely manner. BoardSafe offers high-satisfaction products that can improve the quality of life for those who like to kayak, canoe, row, or SUP.
At BoardSafe Docks, we manufacture world-class aluminum-framed floating docks, adaptive kayak launches, rowing docks, marinas, gangways, and pedestrian bridges for our customers all across the USA. If you’re shopping around for quality, feel free to take a look at, or request custom pricing through, our website: BoardSafe Docks.com.