BOARD MESSAGE: Flexibility & Planning Ahead to Meet Customer Demand

By CNGA Board President Kerri Dantino

Kerri Dantino, 2020-2021 CNGA Board President

It’s hard to believe that we’ve made it to the halfway mark for 2021! 

Our world seems to be returning to “normal” in many ways, but in other ways things still feel uncertain. The price of lumber, plastics and metals are skyrocketing while the supply seems to be unsteady at best. Increased cost inputs and delays in both manufacturing and shipping have many of us pivoting and coming up with new ideas and solutions for our businesses. Demand continues to be strong for our industry while supply remains consistent, which is furthering the shortages of soil, plant liners and finished plant material. Many companies increased their production from 2006 to 2008, and then felt the painful sting of lost revenue when the market dropped. In 2021, it seems that most companies are following their same trajectory from 2020, rather than taking the risk of increasing production to meet demand.

Ordering early and being flexible on shipping dates seem to have a positive impact on getting what you need. Some companies are even accepting orders for 2023 right now! It may be wise to get into the habit of stocking up more than usual in order to have items like pots and soil on hand when needed. If you usually only purchase one year’s worth of these materials, now might be the time to bump that up by 50% or more as things are available. Expanding your vendor base may also improve your ability to find what you are needing.

With the incredibly strong demand for plant material comes a considerable shortage in labor. The challenge of finding and retaining good employees has been a constant topic in our industry. This year, however, I believe that many of us did way more with far fewer employees than ever before. At Little Valley, we had vendors who simply couldn’t get us full orders this spring due to a lack of labor to get the trees out of the ground. This is the first time in my 20 years in this industry that I can recall this situation. Additional unemployment benefits in the State of Colorado continue to be paid through September 6, 2021, which means that many people may not be back to work yet. In an effort to entice CDL drivers to work for them, some trucking companies are giving out huge signing bonuses. I am hopeful that as we get towards the fall we will see an increase in available workers and truck drivers, which proves promising for an easier (and hopefully less costly!) spring 2022.

The Colorado housing market continues to be strong. According to The Denver Post, “The median price of a single-family home sold in metro Denver last month hit $595,000, up 2.2% from April and 26.6% from May 2020.” WOW, a 26.6% price increase since May of 2020! The construction industry remains strong and steady as well. Both of these industries have a substantial impact on ours, so watching their trends and projections can be very insightful!

I hope you enjoy the summer months and your sales continue to be strong! Cheers to being able to travel again!