Navigating Supply Chain Challenges


Late deliveries, product shortages and a lack of qualified labor. If there is one topic consumers and professionals alike are well aware of right now, it is the difficulty of navigating the challenges in our global supply chains. But it is also difficult to fully understand everything that has led to the current situation, much less how to adapt to it. 

Never fear — we will help you with both. Read on for a fuller picture of the supply chain crisis and get actionable tips to weather the storm. 

The State of the Supply Chain

We are currently facing the “Great Supply Chain Disruption,” brought on initially by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, there has been a greater reliance on home delivery over in-store purchases along with persistent labor shortages, ranging from dock workers to truck drivers to warehouse workers.

Present Supply Chain Issues

The global supply chain is more crunched than ever before, and we are feeling those effects today. Labor shortages are continuing, impacting delivery times, while prices of goods continue to rise. 

Transport has suffered substantially as freight costs have skyrocketed. To put that into perspective, the cost to transport a shipping container from China to the West Coast of the U.S. in 2022 jumped to four times the cost to ship in 2021—and 10 times pre-pandemic rates!

Future Supply Chain Outlook

Looking to the future, our hopes are high. As supply chains slowly but surely ramp back up, we are set to once again see a surplus of previously scarce goods, faster delivery, plus lower production and delivery costs. 

The Connection Between Global Markets and Supply Chains

Have you ever heard the phrase “Everything is connected”? It is true in supply chains, too. Because of the current degree of disruption, we are seeing several changes to supply chains. 

People and companies alike are pushing for more resources, resulting in increased competition and demand for goods and services. We are also facing increased supply chain risk, as outsourced services and materials are affected by forces ranging from geopolitics to natural disasters to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commercial Construction

The commercial construction industry is the perfect example of the connection between the market and supply chains. Between the pandemic and labor shortages, the industry slowed to a crawl, facing production setbacks, bottlenecks and paused projects. As a result, the market has suffered the most, facing delayed deliveries, higher prices for materials such as lumber and increasing levels of frustration. 

Tips for Navigating the Supply Chain Crisis

How are you supposed to bend to changes such as drastic shifts in supply and demand, rapid inflation and labor challenges—and still be successful? It is a tall order, but these five tips should give you a starting point. 

1. Plan Ahead

In the current climate, you need to anticipate the unexpected in advance. The situation has changed, and so should your routine.

Take the following into consideration:

  • Expect longer delivery times: From shipping to storage to the end delivery of goods, everything is slower right now. Prepare yourself and your team so no one’s left scratching their heads. 
  • Consider prefabrication: Delivery delays have a domino effect, slowing down every subsequent process in supply chains. However, contractors can stay productive. Consider assembling components offsite to counteract shipping delays.
  • Utilize construction software: Just because your timeline is in flux does not mean the whole system has to be in disarray. With construction software, you get the right tools to manage ever-changing shipping and delivery dates, timelines and budgets.

2. Develop Strong Supply Chain Relationships

When you feel like you are always wondering what is coming next, it helps to be in-the-know because of relationships with people across your supply chain. Despite your different roles, your end goals are the same: successful end delivery and customer satisfaction.

Distribution International is proud of the strong partnerships we have with our manufacturers. This partnership allows us to work together to find supply solutions in this challenging climate. 

If you think of these budding supply chain relationships as partnerships rather than transactions, everyone wins. A few strategies can help, such as:

  • Communicating openly
  • Communicating early and often
  • Asking suppliers for ideas on proactively addressing supply chain issues


3. Choose Supply Chain Partners with Proven Records

You will be better positioned to get what you need by collaborating with the right partners. Your partners throughout the supply chain should check a few key boxes to ensure the best experience, such as:

  • Extensive inventory management
  • Responsive service 
  • Accurate delivery windows
  • Industry expertise
  • Broad distribution network

At Distribution International, we pride ourselves on supply chain excellence. Our partners and customers have full access to more than 200 leading manufacturers of insulation products, supplies and maintenance equipment, and they’re supported by our responsive service throughout our distribution network including:

  • Over 70 U.S. locations
  • Over 12 Canadian locations 


4. Innovate Throughout the Building Process

During supply chain disruption, you must be nimble. Sometimes that means changing your usual go-to materials and reworking your processes. The DI team can recommend alternative materials in the event the one requested is delayed or unavailable from the manufacturer. With that said, DI is very well-stocked and makes every possible effort to get exactly what you need when you need it.

5. Keep Up with Supply Chain Trends

Supply chain efficiency is constantly evolving worldwide as we continue to feel the effects of the pandemic. Stay in step with supply chain news so you can take appropriate precautionary measures.

Aside from reading industry publications and tuning into relevant news, use your supply chains as sources of education and communication. This means turning to partners and distributors such as Distribution International. We are proud to lead the way in educational resources that engage the entire insulation industry.

Work Together to Navigate the Supply Chain Crisis

The state of our supply chains is unlike anything we have ever seen, between the compounding effects of a global pandemic and record-setting labor shortages. However, with a combination of teamwork with your supply chain partners and some ingenuity in your processes, you can succeed and forge a brighter future.  

Looking for more insights into navigating the supply chain crisis? Watch our webinar to dive deeper, and don’t forget to follow our blog for more tips and advice

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