A Letter From President Shane Ray Regarding Continued Issues with Material Supply

An Open Letter to NFSA Members,

I am sending this communication to keep everyone informed regarding continued issues with material supply impacting the fire sprinkler industry. Both production and shipping are experiencing delays that increase lead times beyond historical norms.

Additionally, as demand increases the supply chain problems may be here for an extended period. It has been difficult and expensive for various NFSA constituents to acquire industrial products and components even as other countries recover from the pandemic. This is not limited to overseas production and now includes domestic production. The stop-start nature of the recovery has disrupted both production and supply chains at different points. With the competition for capacity, costs have increased, adding pressure on prices.

As one selected example among many, production and/or shipping delays of a small part such as a rubber gasket for a valve, can shut down a manufacturer’s supply and assembly line because they cannot substitute for that part. In many cases, individual components used to manufacture listed or approved products cannot be easily replaced. .

Adding to the current concerns, domestic labor shortages and costs are affecting material production and shipping. Domestic manufacturing and shipping labor have become scarce and expensive in part due to current domestic policies and programs creating a lack of available labor.

NFSA continues to advise our members to order materials early and monitor their delivery times. Typical “next day items” may not be immediately available.

We are all aware of the current economic, political, and societal issues facing our country and our world. What we may not be aware of is the complexities that impact the fire sprinkler industry because of the maritime industry, shipping businesses, freight carriers, and logistics services. Another major impact on our suppliers and manufacturers is the competition for workers within their own facilities. As every business in America faces a shortage of workers, the competition for workers in our warehouses and factories is especially challenging because of the growth in distribution fulfillment centers. While this growth in the warehouse/distribution markets good for fire sprinkler industry growth, the competition for workers against multi-billion dollar companies is a challenge because they offer a variety of wage and benefits inducements well in excess of customary compensation rates.

NFSA’s Supplier and Manufacturer members have consistently served our industry during all economic times. The Manufacturers Council has met every month since this pandemic started to keep NFSA leadership informed so the Association can enhance the awareness of all NFSA members.

Rest assured that NFSA is not only monitoring conditions, but we are very active in Washington, D.C. to influence legislation and public policy decisions impacting the fire sprinkler industry. As our Chair of the Board, Kent Mezaros would say, we enjoy hearing from our members and if you have any feedback or if we can help in any way, reach out. Working together, we will not only survive the impact of this pandemic, but thrive on the other side of it.

In service,

Shane Ray