March-April 2020

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14 PalletCentral • March-April 2020 ESSENTIAL BUSINESS NWPCA COVID-19 SURVEY S ociety is now well into coping amidst COVID-19. There is not one aspect of life or business that this coronavirus has left untouched. We are all held captive to the immediate needs of a global society in quarantine – whether your role is to serve or to stay at home. It has affected some more than others, but none are immune, literally. For members of the NWPCA, with a significant role in the world's supply chain, the call to serve has sounded, but there are still many unknowns to be worked out. In a recent survey of the members, it is clear that the industry is feeling the pressure to perform, while keeping employees safe at the workplace. Here is how members are handling the crisis. The Work One NWPCA member sums market conditions, "Just like the virus itself, the impact on our industry is fluid," says Nick Wenner, Vice President of Operations at Pallet Service Corporation. "In mid to late March we saw increased sales as many stay orders were just in the process of being implemented. Also, as our reactions to the virus continued to increase, more companies were working to shore up their supply chain to ensure that they could keep operating as things tighten up. However, as the economy has continued its slow-down as more and more people are staying home, many find their supply chain full with no demand for product. That reality is becoming more evident for most pallet manufacturers as we near the end of April." At the time of the survey, which was several weeks into the U.S. call to quarantine, about two-thirds of the NWPCA membership were already experiencing demanding supply chain challenges. A common concern top of mind for most company leadership is the general lack of direction on what the future holds, and the inability to follow quantitative forecasting to plan for it. One member stated that they were "extremely busy in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors. In the future we expect the peaks to turn into valleys as either the supply chain is filled or consumers stop purchasing." Another echoed saying, "We anticipate higher volumes will continue for several weeks as people are forced to eat at home." The issue of cores is problematic, says another member: "Core accounts are wanting us to go to every store (BJs, Sam's Club, etc.) daily for collections. There just isn't enough capacity to absorb this increased service demand." How the impact of supply shortages and distribution of product to the marketplace will affect businesses is still to be determined, with one member noting, "it is a fluid situation." One foreseeable problem is delays on equipment installations and servicing due to other country's restrictions, as well as a shortage in supply of spares. Another respondent says, "Nails, wire, and strapping would be my biggest concerns." How NWPCA and its members are coping in the COVID-19 crisis. By Caryn Smith

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