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Why you should CONNECT

Editorial | April 1, 2022 | By: Tim Goral

The Industrial Fabrics Association International’s CONNECT is an active forum where members can ask questions and get helpful answers from others who have faced similar challenges.

For example, a recent question asked was, “Everyone is experiencing supply chain challenges, but which categories are the
most challenging? Which types of products are you having the most trouble sourcing?”

The responses underscored CONNECT’s value as a resource where members see that they are not facing challenges alone.

One response came from Ed Vander Vegte, operations manager at OutFront Portable Solutions in Beamsville, Ontario. He noted, “The current difficulty, for us, is in the supply of vinyl and plastic products. For some reason, certain resins seem to be difficult to get. With help from this IFAI forum, we managed to get enough vinyl to make it through our busy season.”

Amy Bircher, CEO and founder of MMI Textiles in Brooklyn, Ohio, and recently elected IFAI board chair, said, “There isn’t one specific area for supply chain issues for us–it is across the board. It has required a lot more planning on our end for all the components that go into manufacturing our fabrics, trim items, and so on.”

Thomas Auer, president of Bearse USA, in Chicago, Ill., said the supply chain has led to delays in finishing products. “In the Makers world, it doesn’t matter if we’re missing a 10-cent snap, a 50-cent zipper, or a $10 piece of fabric, we can only build and ship when we have everything on our bill of material,” he said. “When we have double what we need of one, but none of the other, we’re not able to serve our customer.”

As for getting materials, David Davis, manager of Quinte Canvas Mfg. (Top Shop), in Westbrook, Ontario, Canada, said: “When I needed aluminum for September, I placed my order last June, only to be given a response time of February 2022,” he said. “Now I’m reaching out to suppliers, asking for their current lead time and ordering accordingly, and doubling the order just in case.”

Connect with CONNECT by IFAI and be part of a community intent on helping its members. As the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

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