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Supply chain constraints: ‘It’s going to get worse,' says Graham-Field CEO

Supply chain constraints: ‘It’s going to get worse,' says Graham-Field CEO

ATLANTA – Even though it manufactures most of its products in the U.S., GF Health Products still imports certain components, not to mention about 1,000 containers of products a year, meaning it, too, has felt the sting of supply chain constraints, says Ken Spett. 

“Our logistics people – we never paid too much attention to them,” said Spett, president and CEO. “Now we’re in meetings with the logistics people every day.” 

Here’s what Spett had to say about how Graham-Field is trying to think outside the box to overcome constraints and why he believes this will be the new normal for some time. 

HME News: How are the supply chain constraints affecting Graham-Field? 

Ken Spett: We’re well above 50% self-manufactured in the U.S. in our four factories. However, there are some components that we import, like all of our electronics. We make a lot of products that go up and down – stretchers and beds and lifts – and they all work off control boxes and the components inside of them are assembled in the U.S. but all coming from China, Taiwan, Singapore. We’re experiencing delays on those like everyone else. We also bring in about 1,000 containers a year of imported DME products. 

HME: What has been the company’s strategy to overcome these constraints? 

Spett: We’ve made some different decisions on how to get products to our distribution centers. In the past, most of our products went to our distribution center (DC) in Missouri and everything would be (brought by rail) there from the ports in L.A. or Long Beach. Now we’re taking the products in those ports and having them trucked to our DC in California, offloading them, returning the container right away and then trucking them to Missouri. It’s saving us about three weeks, but it’s costing us. We’re also routing more containers to the port in Savannah. That’s getting tighter, but it’s still better than the West Coast ports. 

HME: It sounds like a scheduling nightmare. 

Spett: We used to be able to schedule how many containers our DCs would receive in a day; now, we have no idea. We’re in the process of receiving 40 containers from a railyard in Savannah. They all arrived on the same ship. We have room for it, but no one can take in 40 containers in a day – no one has the dock spaces or the people to unload it and inspect it. It’s causing a bit of a backup, but in a good way, because it means we’ll have products for the next few weeks. That would have never happened two years ago. The system wouldn’t have allowed 40 containers coming into one of our DCs in one day. 

HME: Are there certain products that have been more impacted by constraints? 

Spett: Crutches have been the biggest pain point. All of the big sellers for us in bent metal – most of them are on back order. 

HME: Is there an end in sight? 

Spett: We don’t see it improving. As a matter of fact, we’re projecting it’s going to get worse. The Chinese government is starting to impose restrictions for the Chinese New Year for Omicron, including a 14-day quarantine on all workers who plan to go home. The factories and ports and rail could be closed 14 days prior to the New Year, then it’s the New Year and there’s a chance for significant shutdowns, which would dramatically affect the bad situation you already have.


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