Her company, Diamond Brand, just launched a new line of high-end wall tents called the Liminal, thick with vents and fasteners demanded by discerning campers. But that means using lots of Velcro. And that’s a problem, because black Velcro comes in many shades, depending on the type of raw plastic resin used to make it.
“If I have older stock and put it with new,” the colors won’t match, said Rash. “Black is not black is not black.”
Before supply chain breakdowns and shortages swept the world in the wake the COVID pandemic, buying the bits and pieces for an assembly line was often as easy as clicking a button and waiting a few days or, at most, a few weeks for delivery.
Shortages of metals, plastics, wood and even liquor bottles are now the norm.
The upshot is a world where buyers must wait for delivery of items that were once plentiful, if they can get them at all. Rash has piles of tents she can’t ship because she can’t get the right aluminum tubing for their frames, for instance, while others lack the right zippers.
Along with the shortages come hefty price increases, which has fueled fears of a wave of sustained inflation.
There’s growing tension among Federal Reserve policymakers over how to gauge the long-term impact on prices. Some Fed policymakers are more convinced than others that price pressures will recede after some of the supply chain disruptions are resolved. How this debate evolves could influence how quickly the Fed moves to reduce the pace of asset purchases launched at the start of the pandemic, and how soon it lifts the policy interest rate from its current level near zero.
Rash and other local producers were part of a wide ranging forum recently with Richmond Fed president Tom Barkin that focused on the challenges to the U.S. recovery posed by supply chain issues that are not getting resolved as fast as policymakers had hoped.
Shortages are hitting everything from bulldozers to bourbon. Heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) warned in July that its profits would suffer in the current quarter in part because of rising prices on hard-to-get components. The company said, among other things, it is looking for ways to get supplies from non-traditional sources to deal with shortages of plastic resin and semiconductors.