Appearing on The Leaders Council podcast series, Stoneleigh Timber Engineering managing director Adrian Hall spoke out about supply chain issues affecting the construction sector and other areas of industry and how businesses like his are being affected.
Supply chain woes that have manifested in 2021 are a well-documented issue. With the full enactment of Brexit at the start of the year, earlier manufacturing shutdowns due to the global pandemic and even the recent Suez Canal debacle, the fragility of global supply chains has been exposed. In consequence, UK businesses are finding it to be a longer and more costly exercise getting hold of goods and it is believed by some that these issues are not going to go away in a hurry.
According to ING, while world trade in goods has benefited from the global recovery in terms of sales and production, global trade’s recovery has outpaced global GDP with some sectors having been affected by lockdowns for longer.
Ocean freight, which is normally responsible for the bulk of world goods trade, has had to pick up the pace to compensate for reductions in air freight capacity thanks to restrictions on passenger travel.
This has also coupled with volatility and uncertainty in the global supply chain. While trade volumes have recovered after lockdowns at ports and the unblocking of the Suez Canal, supply chain disruptions have accumulated and worsened. With some items taking longer to be delivered and some shipping containers are being displaced, every setback has a knock-on effect on goods shortages and rising prices.
Adrian Hall heads up Stoneleigh Timber Engineering, a roof truss manufacturer based in Wiltshire. Since the summer of 2020, he says that his business has seen an unprecedented increase in demands for his company’s services, and he and his staff have been forced to adapt in order to deal with that pent up demand as well as getting around issues procuring construction materials.
Speaking on The Leaders Council podcast, Hall explained: “It has been a very interesting few months in the sense that since the end of the first lockdown in 2020, we have been extraordinarily busy. So much so that we’ve actually broken all records for turnover within this company, probably by about 30 to 40 per cent compared to what we have experienced before. So, we have had many challenges coping with the increased capacity that we have had to find.
“Raw materials have also gone up in price. Timber, our base material, is probably three times the price now than it was in January 2020. The price of some of the components we use is going up by in 20 per cent. On top of that, materials are also harder to get hold of because they take longer to reach us, with timber having gone from taking 48 hours to be delivered to us, to now taking several days to get here.”
In terms of being able to navigate these issues, while the business cannot influence external forces, Hall outlined that he and the business have had to take the practical step of predicting further ahead and placing orders further in advance in an effort to get hold of materials on time.
“We are having to be proactive and make predictions on what we’re going to need. This means looking a long way ahead compared to what we’ve been used to in the past. Although it’s a tough ride for our business, it is a good thing that the demand is there for us.”
The full interview with Adrian Hall on The Leaders Council podcast can be heard below.