We understand customers’ concerns about the availability of certain floral supplies and want to be as transparent as possible on the disruptions we continue to face in our supply chain.
The information below is what we know and can expect logistically at this stage of the supply chain recovery.
Design Master Spray Paints and Colour Products
Design Master, a division of Smithers-Oasis, is having trouble providing a definitive answer for when they will have paint products available to the Canadian market again. Their Executive Director, Dwight Larimer, highlighted major Supply chain and factory labour struggles in the US market impeding Design Master’s capacity for a Canadian program.
A further complication that Design Master has always had to deal with is enhanced product labelling requirements for Canada. This means separate production runs for the much smaller Canadian market. So the initial focus for Design Master has been getting its business back in the larger US market first,
The problem is not isolated to Design Master — click on the link below for more news stories on paint shortages occurring throughout the paint industry:
Compounding the paint industry’s COVID problems was a Texas Freeze of Petrochemicals due to major power outages in February 2021. Ingredients used in paint were impacted, causing a production shortage for the entire industry. Aluminum shortages have also been reported during COVID, impacting the ability to produce pails and cans.
Dwight mentioned Design Master has abandoned all efforts to service the DIY trade, putting 100% focus on the floral wholesale market.
Once we have any information on a schedule and program from Design Master, our customers will be immediately informed. As of now, we have no further information.
We did reach out to another paint company about carrying its spray paints, but regular sprays cannot be used with fresh flowers. Design Master’s paint formulas are unique to the floral industry and allow the paints to be used without harming fresh product. For this reason, we have opted to wait for Design Master to get their Canadian program back online.
Glass Vase Rationalization
The industry has been playing catch up for several months now as manufacturing time has been diminished due to COVID shutdowns. Our suppliers are being forced to narrow the breadth of products being made during precious production time they are allotted. By limiting the number of items they manufacture, they can produce more of their popular pieces to keep up with demand as the narrower breadth of offerings allows them to cut down on start and stoppage times.
Industry leaders like Syndicate Sales and Smithers-Oasis that supply US made glass vases have continued to be forced to rationalize their product selection. These companies tend to own the glass moulds and buy production time from glass manufacturing plants. That production time competes with other glass items like tableware.
This means many glass vases we are accustomed to stocking regularly are not available. We do not have a clear picture of when certain items may be available again; It will depend on the vendor getting glass production time. We also have no control over what vases are discontinued by the vendors who have no immediate plans of bringing them back into production.
When planning your glass purchases, it is best to check our website to look for glass inventory on hand. For example, we had good success keeping our made in Mexico G3 line made of 100% Recycled Glass in stock during the Pandemic. Also, import glass from China continues to be available — just longer replenishment times exist than before COVID.
While we cannot promise anything, there is hope that things will normalize by the end of this year. At least, we will have a clearer picture of what glass items will be available and if those items will be consistently in stock.
Floral Foam and Related Products
Floral foam has been a staple in our industry for many years, with alternatives like Agra Wool only recently becoming available.
While floral foam is sold in brick form, our vendors also use foam to make bouquet holders, mache-backed wreaths and crosses, Floracage holders, and several other foam products we usually supply.
Both Smithers-Oasis and Syndicate Sales have been struggling to keep up production of their floral foams. When there are no bricks, there are also no other ancillary products that include foam. It is not that we don’t try to order or have orders in place. Vendors simply tell us they don’t have the product, or only certain quantities are allocated to us.
Even with these challenges, we were able to secure a good supply of Oasis Standard bricks as we head into Mother’s Day, and we have 18″ Mache Backed Wreaths. We continue to take orders on all basic foam items from our customers and hope to fill those orders as vendors release products and supply normalizes.
Supply disruptions are occurring with other essential items that have historically been readily available in various sizes, including florist wire, wire easels, and floratape. In some instances, we have been able to find alternative vendors, and customers have adjusted by buying other sizes.
It has not been all bad news; there are many product categories where supply has largely been uninterrupted. This includes permanent botanicals, pottery, baskets, most packaging items, ribbons and mesh, and preservatives.
One area that may never return to normal is the shipping time import products take to arrive from overseas. The turnaround time is affected by manufacturers finding enough labour, reduced sailing speeds of ocean vessels to be more fuel efficient, and continued port congestion. Import timelines from order to receipt of product were approximately four months before COVID. The new norm seems to be six to eight months.
This puts a lot of pressure on seasonal novelties like Valentine’s Day and our early Canadian Fall. Typically, Valentine’s Day items have been ordered in June/July for arrival between November to January. With longer delivery windows, the arrival of these seasonal products has been jeopardized. To manage this, we recently purchased Valentine’s Day items from a vendor who had unexpected late deliveries for Valentine’s 2022. By acquiring the Valentine’s items now it guarantees us to have some Valentine’s Day novelties at the start of the 2023 season. We also did the same with some Easter novelties. For Fall 2022, we do have a nice selection of items already in stock and have our fingers crossed our new additions will arrive in time.
Thank you for working with us through these Supply disruptions. While there have been certain products impacted, the industry has been able to be successful through the Pandemic. A big contributor to that success comes from our customers’ creativity, flexibility, and problem-solving when specific products are unavailable. We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate these logistical issues to deliver beyond the ordinary.
Laurie Nesbitt CPA, CA
President and COO