Michael, we last checked in with you in June. It has been a little while. Do you have some new updates regarding the state of the supply chain and the state of the industry?
When I did my first Q&A with you about 9 months back, I was thinking that we should be seeing things heading towards normal by the end of the year, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The ocean industry is still a disaster, and I don’t see that improving until earliest Q2 of 2022, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it went beyond that. This will create some serious challenges for the holiday season 2021 and through Chinese New Year.
What are the biggest impacts currently on the market beyond the logistics side?
The logistics side is a major impact, not only with its cost impact but also for its time impact. Those are tough to overcome. We are seeing spikes in inflation globally, which are impacting many consumer goods across the world. With inflation rates in the US at their highest point in over 30 years this is impacting importers. On top of all of that we are seeing geopolitical pressures which are impacting costs for products, as well as, energy and greatly impacting manufacturing, especially in China.
Where is Shen Wei’s focus these days?
With all the challenges going on, Shen Wei still has exciting things that we are doing to keep us as industry leaders. We have focused on the things that are within our control to work on and continuing to promote sustainability as the leading focus. We are so excited educate about our biodegradable products so that we can help lead the way in limiting our footprint on the planet and with our focus on sustainability in manufacturing we are going to continue finding ways to be a driving force for a Sustainable World.
What are some of the things you are focusing on with your manufacturing and production side?
Shen Wei has never been a large volume producer of products, but we have always focused on producing quality products that others are not making. Since we are a smaller size manufacturer, we are working on ways that we can produce more sustainably, while still providing the quality differentiated products that we do well. We are focusing on improving our economies of scale to produce larger volume of items at a time to alleviate downtime changing lines between production. We plan to do this by working on agreements with our customers and warehousing additionally produced items that can be shipped later. This will allow the factory to be more efficient and customers to improve lead times on products. This will also help our packaging vendors on their economies of scale also, so that they will have larger, more efficient packaging production runs.
This sounds like it will be a bit of a change to the Shen Wei Business Model.
This isn’t a change of direction for Shen Wei, but the next phase of our mission to make our customers more successful, but with the added driving force around sustainability. We want to provide our customers with the products that make them successful while doing that in a sustainable way. Our customers have come to expect this from us, and we will continue to focus on what we do well. Customers appreciate working with a manufacturer that is based in the US because they have the added comfort knowing that if there are any issues, they have a partner here that carries liability insurance to cover its customers. Most glove manufacturers do not as they do not have US entity to provide this benefit.
Any other challenges that you are dealing with or expecting that you would like to mention?
We are definitely seeing more challenges in the glove supply chain these days. Some of the largest glove suppliers in Malaysia are being hit with Corporate Social Responsibility violations and US Customs is stopping shipments their coming in. On the FDA side they are detaining some of the large manufacturers from Thailand. That is impacting some of the flow of gloves to the US. We are also seeing tariffs that are being imposed on goods from China that are impacting suppliers’ ability to get to the US market. So, customers are trying to find alternative sourcing to help work around all these issues. Not an easy task.
Sounds like plans for 2022 are going to keep Shen Wei quite busy.
Absolutely, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. We do not want to sit back and let things happen. We want to drive change. We want to strive to always be better, to do more. We can make a difference and our team members feel that every day when they come to work. We have a passion and a drive to make a difference in our relationships, in the industry, and in the world which we share. Our goal is to provide trust, confidence, and quality, all in a sustainable way so that we leave the world better than it was before.
Michael van Sunder is SW Commercial Operations Manager and can be reached at email@example.com.