January 17, 2022
A couple of recent website contacts brought this quote to mind:
"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Mark Twain (in response to an inquiry asking if he had died)
We are frequently asked about inventory status, sometimes we're asked why many things are out (then back, then out again), and even a couple have asked if we're still alive. Here's an explanation of our inventory management and today's small manufacturing challenges.
First it helps to understand we're a very small volume manufacturer, making hundreds of things at a time, in a world designed for making thousands and tens of thousands. Its difficult to find good quality suppliers who are willing to make or sell smaller lot sizes. Its pretty typical of those who make smaller lot sizes to also run out of the items they're providing. When they're out we have to wait until they get more back in their supply stock.
Second, the pandemic disruption is still a thing. Its even a thing for domestic US manufacturers like us, and like our suppliers, who are almost all domestic as well. We and most of our suppliers are fortunately not waiting for goods in containers floating of the US coasts. But nearly everything we buy now takes twice or three times as long to deliver. We're still getting caught by unexpected long delivery times, even when we allow more time by ordering sooner. This means we run out of supplies, which means we run out of inventory before we've had time to convert those supplies into Trail Boss tools.
Third, one of our key suppliers who used to take 6 weeks or so to provide their product, now takes 5 months. Since we've had a lack of other supplies as well we've had some time to work to solve this problem and are about to roll-out our results to you all (yay!).
Fourth (and finally the last) we have been managing our inventory pretty closely and conservatively marking things as "out of stock" even when we expect a re-supply soon. This is because re-supply deliveries are often unexpectedly delayed by a couple of extra weeks, sometimes more. That results in a back-order situation for customers who bought an item, only to be told they have to wait. And we need to then spend time managing those back-orders. So now we only put things back in stock on the webstore when we know for sure the items are available, or will be available to ship within a few days (not weeks or months).
Anyway, there you have it, a little sausage-making peek into the world of small manufacturing. On our webstore there's a convenient button you can push that asks us to notify you when something is back in stock. Please use that, we keep these requests and send out emails to all when items return. And if you need to buy something now even if it is out of stock, please contact us and we can invoice you for it.