Thank goodness that covid is behind us, well mostly. Life is beginning to feel normal again. Businesses and restaurants have re-opened. Masks are no longer required and are only a personal choice. People are free to gather and move about as they wish. Things are basically back to normal except for in the manufacturing world.
Production is still way behind schedule; materials can be difficult to secure, restrictions remain in many areas of the world that impact factories and prices have skyrocketed. Even if you are up and running at normal speed, certain materials may not be available or, in order to secure them, you are being required to purchase them in much larger quantities than you had in the past – like 500% more. When you buy more of something, you usually expect to pay less for it – a discount for volume. This is not the case. Prices have increased and you have to buy much more of it.
Even worse, some materials are being modified since certain chemicals and compounds are not readily available but are still being sold as the original product. This information is not being shared openly. But when you work with this chemical or compound, it behaves differently. When an inquiry is finally made, you are informed that a “slight change has been made in its chemical composition”. Thanks for letting me know that, now! There are a lot of frustrations and challenges with being a manufacturer right now and every day is a problem-solving day.
Many manufacturing facilities continue to have restrictions placed on their operating hours, capacities and health and safety protocols. These restrictions slow everything down. Rod runs now take double the time they typically have taken to produce in the past. Because of this, we have to place run orders in much earlier and make much larger runs in an attempt to stay ahead of the game. We’ve already sold well over two thirds of our last rod production run – which has not even shipped yet.
Slower production times paired with huge increases in sales has put us into a tight situation. We now have to calculate predicted sales, production times and estimated delays. Which is why we’ve already given the go to produce yet another even large order of tenkara rods. It’s become a crazy game of guessing.
Why am I telling you all this? Mostly because general consumers don’t realize the domino affect Covid is still having on industries. Why can’t I find my favorite brand of some item at the store? Why have the prices gone up so much? We manufacturer, we get it. We understand and are dealing with delays, shortages, limited access to various material, shipping costs, etc. Covid is still impacting manufacturers across the world. Some companies are making concessions to use different materials to complete projects – we are not willing to do that. This domino effect impacts everyone from way up at the top at the first point in production, all the way down to the bottom or last stop in the line – the end consumer/customer.
It’s a lot for a small company. Fear not, Zen isn’t going anywhere. We’ve just been rolling up our sleeves, digging deeper, and learning more. I have been surprised at how helpful and support people can been. Even massive corporations like Exxon Chemical have offered their assistance with a team of engineers who actually analyzed our lines in a lab for their chemical composition to break things down to a molecular level to help with issues we suddenly were having. And having a solid and trusting relationship with our factory who helped us secure high-end IM-12 carbon fiber for our rods, has made all the difference in the world.
We realize that connecting with these people personally not only has helped our business through these uncharted times but has allowed us to create and establish warm and supportive friendships and mentorships, that will last a lifetime. Zen just wants to take a moment to thank all those that have helped us these past few unusual years. And thank all our wonderful customers, that have been incredibly patient and understanding if their orders have been delayed, etc. We appreciate you choosing Zen and want you to know that we are working hard to deliver the very best products possible, along with the very best customer service. We care as much, if not more, than you do.
Karin Miller, Owner/Founder