Labor Day is quickly approaching, and while you might normally find yourself searching for the best deals for, well, just about anything, you’ve probably noticed a trend. Nothing is in stock. Bikes? Good luck. 2022 models are just starting to ship, but it’s hard to get your hands on one. Paint? Yep, that’s in short supply as well, with some companies pre-purchasing large quantities now for jobs 10-12 weeks in the future. Household appliances? Used cars? The list goes on. The U.S., like much of the world, is experiencing a supply chain challenge that’s historic in scale and seems to shift monthly in terms of where it hits hardest. It has already shifted since we wrote this blog. Some of it is a direct result of 18 months of pandemic-induced market conditions (looking at you, rental car companies selling all your inventory last year). And some of it stems from long-existing situations that recent events have only exposed or exacerbated. Regardless of where you’re focusing, the impacts are major, and Yakima has definitely been affected.
The good news—and yes, there’s good news—is that across the marketplace, we’re seeing improvement in many areas, with stock levels returning, shipping delays lessening, some balance returning to the supply and demand ratio. But—and you knew there was a but coming—there’s still a way to go before we here at Yakima see a full return to anything like the “normal” levels of supply we’re all used to. As more and more people are getting outside, hitting the road in search of adventures big and small, and new people discover the joys of being in the woods, on the trail, or in the water, there’s a growing demand for our products, and it’s outpacing our abilities to meet it.
WHAT’S GOING ON
We’re not just sitting around waiting for things to get better, though. We’re taking action in key ways, to ensure we’re ready to come back stronger than ever. We wanted to share a little more about our situation, so you can better understand where we’re at, what we’re up to, and what you can expect from Yakima in the future.
First of all, while many of our products are manufactured in China we also manufacture in Taiwan and in California. So, some things that are impacting us in Asia won’t necessarily affect all our products. Like many other companies who produce their goods overseas, we’re dealing with a collision of numerous variables. For example, some of our raw materials are less available right now, which leads to delays in production at the source. And even once a rack or cargo box rolls off the production line, there’s still a lot that needs to happen. There’s labor needed to load shipping containers, high demand for the cargo ships that carry them, and labor shortages at the US ports where the boats unload. Meanwhile, in the US pandemic-related aspects are also coming up for our supply chain. There are a lot of hands that touch a Yakima rack on its way to you, and we’re doing our best to keep those hands safe, and the product moving.
A NEW FACTORY
One thing we’re excited to share is that we’re well into the construction of a new factory. This project will allow us to increase our overall production, as well as the speed and efficiency with which we make our products. It’s been a big push to bring this to life, but the investment into our own facilities and the ability to control our production more effectively will help us in both the near term as we emerge from the pandemic conditions and the long term as we look to the future.
We’re also taking this moment to look closely at our distribution centers. We’re evaluating all the opportunities to ensure we’re using these outposts as efficiently as possible, removing unnecessary re-routes, streamlining processes, and generally finding ways to get more product in and out as smoothly as possible. We want our stuff to spend less time being handled and get into your hands faster.
TRUE TO OUR CORE
Last, but most important, ever since the pandemic began affecting our production and supply, we’ve prioritized our core retail partners. We have a 40-year history of building relationships with independent specialty dealers, and it was crucial to us to help them keep product in stock. We created a number of tools to help our customers shop locally, starting with removing most of our stock from Yakima.com and driving people to shops near them, using our Dealer Locator tool. We designed it so it doesn’t just tell you where a shop is, but also whether the item you’re looking for is in stock there. That system is regularly updated, helping ensure you’re getting accurate info about what you’re looking for. As we begin to get more product back in stock, we’ll start to make items available for purchase on Yakima.com again, because we always want to give our customers the most options for how to get their gear.
At the end of the day, we want to see as many people as possible embracing the fun, wonder, and connection of playing outside. It’s been those things that have kept us going during a challenging, stressful time, and we’re thankful to be part of a community that values and celebrates the outdoors. We’ll keep pushing to get our products from the factory to you as fast as we can, and we’ll keep you updated along the way. Thanks for reading.