After a career of turmoil, I finally settled into a job in my ZIP code about 5 years ago. Our little factory makes belting for conveyors, mostly for the food industry (Tyson, etc.). I’m an engineer (well technically an “Application Specialist” working in engineering due to my lack of an engineering degree. But that’s a rant for another day) working in a customer facing role dealing with product development and customer service.
Anyways, a massive part of our business is in steel, both stainless and carbon depending on application. One of the major steel mills in this country, ATI, has now gone on a Caterpillar-like strike that nobody knows when it will end. These guys supply pretty much the entire industry with some products. So we have been engaged in trying to find substitutes for a couple weeks now since lack of materials could force us to shut down if we can’t find any. We’ve located a place in India (buy America only goes so far when your back’s against the wall) that we think can get us what we need (in the end there are no hard promises anymore) by maybe June or July. To fill current demand we’re scouring any distributor that has anything that’s been on the docks and technically unclaimed (even if it’s intended for a competitor) and finding suitable substitutions if we can.
One of those substitutions is known as T301. Outside of some minor welding issues, it’s a good substitute for 200 series stainless in that it doesn’t precipitate in heat leaving black specks on customers food products (yuck!).
So we found about 70,000 lbs. of that that we’re intending to cover our 200 needs.
Yesterday a customer presented us with an order requiring 50,000 lbs. of T304, which we’re also out of and which 301 will also cover.
Needless to say, I’m glad that I was knocked off my first hill management track career a decade ago.
Another issue I’ve got is that about 2 weeks ago I was driving over to Costco at lunch and stopped my truck at an intersection to let a semi pass. The young lady behind me didn’t and got up under my rear bumper tearing the rear quarter aluminum. No real biggie, her insurance is covering it.
So I dropped it off at the local collision shop on Monday and picked up the rental. They shipped it to the local branch that can handle aluminum repair. Got notification Tuesday that their completion date is estimated for MAY 21. Apparently because, along with all the newsworthy shortages of chips affecting Ford, apparently the supply chain for everything is completely bumfuzzled and it’ll take that long to get a new quarter panel.
In addition, even though I asked for a truck as my rental, I had to settle for a crappy Kia SUV with the biggest interior area among the choices available. I’m on the waiting list but for the time being I’ll have to haul my grass clippings to the dump in the rental SUV.
Kind of goes along with the inversion last year when trucks became the biggest sellers in the country despite the $50-60K minimum price tags as actual people reject the “greening” of the auto industry.
Now I’m not an economist, just a guy on the street, but good lord, this is going to get rough for a while. Glad I’m old.