Broken chain: Supply chain issues still plaguing local businesses | Local News

Broken chain: Supply chain issues still plaguing local businesses | Local News

MURRAY – Supply chain issues have become commonplace since the COVID-19 pandemic began. First it was toilet paper, then potatoes. Sanitizing wipes and disinfectants were scarce for months early on. These issues have not only refused to go away, but they have gotten progressively worse as the Delta and Omicron surges have gripped the country in the last few months.  

A variety of businesses around town say ordering products is “hit or miss” at this time. Many are going to different vendors to find products or even looking online to no avail. 

“We don’t even get half of what we order right now,” said EZY Mart owner Nirav Patel. “The deliveries are delayed due to the warehouse having half of their staff working. So, the sales people are covering deliveries. There are so many routes for them cover. For example, the RC delivery that I placed an order for more than two months ago, I just got it yesterday.”

Patel said he has had difficulty procuring everything from soda to cigars, and while he is able to get most items, he usually isn’t able to buy the varieties he used to. According to Patel, Red Bull Distribution of North America currently has no Red Bull in stock. 

“From Frito Lay, I could not get (Funyons) or pretzels. I could not get several flavors of Doritos,” Patel noted.

He also cannot get beer in 40 oz. bottles.

“Budweiser, Bud Light, Busch, Colt 45, you don’t see a single 40 oz. glass bottle in that cooler,” he said. “Instead of ordering two cases, we order five cases just so we have it (in stock) for a longer time because when we need it, they may not have it. So, we have to stock up ahead of time whenever they have it in stock.”

Larkin Spradlin, paint manager at Paint Plus Flooring, said he has had difficulty getting, of all things, paint. He said it has been hard to get products in fast enough to keep up with demand.

“Oil-based paints are very hard to come by,” Spradlin said. “Kilz, that’s a product that’s very scarce and hard to get. Our Satin Impervo, our oil-based paint, are pretty scarce just from raw materials shortages.”

“A lot of the vinyl floorings that are made overseas have been months and months out,” Spradlin said, noting that many manufacturers have been moving production back to facilities in the U.S. “So, there are a lot more American-made vinyl options now, which is really good.”

Spradlin said many of the manufacturers of the products he sells have discontinued lines that were not “high-volume sellers” in order to shift production focus to more popular products.

“Just about anything, we’re still able to get but people have to wait a little longer,” he said, “or some people are having to change their minds and go with different options in order to get things done. … We’ve been able to kind of stay ahead of it by planning for it, getting more paint of different varieties where people can still get what they need. It just might not be exactly what they want.”

Food Giant Assistant Manager Beverly McCuiston said the grocery store is having trouble stocking specific items.

“We’re not getting a lot of our cat food,” she said. “We’re not getting hardly any saltine crackers. We were having problems getting canned biscuits, but that is getting better. … Everything else is kind of hit or miss. Sometimes things come in and then, on the next truck, it might not come in.”

Arista Wilkins, a cosmetologist at Salon X, echoed similar sentiments, saying she has had difficulty getting supplies in general. Specifically, though, chemicals like bleach and hair color are the hardest things for her to find currently, she said.

Kenny Myers, who works in the parts department at Toyota of Murray, said they are also having trouble.

“It kind of depends on the vehicle,” he said. “We had a Rav 4 – I think it was a ’21 model – that someone had hit the door on, and there were over 1,000 on back order.” 

The problem is bigger than just not being able to find preferred products in stores. Murray-Calloway County Hospital Director of Materials Management Roy Williams said the hospital is continuing to have trouble procuring medical supplies. 

“Suction liners have been and continue to be a difficult item to get consistently,” he said. “We have had problems getting syringes, needles, IV products, electrodes and even non slip socks. Some of the items we can find substitutes for a short period of time – until everyone else goes after the same substitutes.”

Williams added, “Many items are on allocation, meaning a facility can only get a certain amount when it is available. As an example, I found a vendor that we buy some items from but not necessarily syringes. I discovered they had a supply of syringes. They were on allocation, but they allowed me to buy a certain quantity each day. I did that until they ran out of what I needed. This allowed me to build up a small supply to get us further down the road.”

Regardless of the type of business, the strategy seems to be amassing a stockpile of hard-to-find items and being creative about how and where to find them. However, until distribution of products becomes more fluid,it appears that bare shelves will remain the norm. 

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