There clearly has never been a more challenging year for manufacturers than 2021. The immediate factory shutdowns in 2020 from the pandemic were followed by an unexpected bounce back of high demand that caught everyone by surprise. It created a snowball effect of massive supply shortages, component price hikes and skyrocketing shipping costs that still persist today.
So for the 12th annual CE Pro Quest for Quality Awards, in addition to gauging which suppliers offered superior customer service, tech support, warranty administration, shipping policies, marketing assistance and more, we posed an open-ended question to the industry about which manufacturers responded the best to the colossal supply chain crisis.
The responses were quite telling, ranging from the good, the bad and the ugly to the hilarious. Integrators could not wait to share their praises and frustrations in this year’s survey, which garnered a record 15,444 individual write-in votes.
Tellingly, the most common write-in response to our question asking who their supply chain hero in 2021 was, “No one.” Some of comments from various respondents include:
- “I don’t have any supplier who performed well … sorry.”
- “I can’t wait to read the answers to this question in this year’s Quest for Quality Awards, because I want to know which manufacturer or distributor performed well during this supply chain situation so I can start using them.”
- “I am putting in obsolete equipment as a temporary measure to get my clients’ systems running.”
- “I am ordering gear 25 weeks out and still not getting it in time.”
- “The global shortages of many goods reflect the disruption of the pandemic combined with decades of companies limiting their inventories.”
- “It’s too early in 2022 to address this issue.”
- “I have no good examples of support as the supply chain shortages keep changing and delaying production.”
- “Nobody did an over-the-top job.”
- “Can’t the industry manufacturers pool their money and just buy their own container ship?”
Well, you get the drift.
In general, the suppliers that did receive praise did so because they had available inventory when no one else did, were able to suggest alternative products to substitute the gap of the missing items, or simply communicated with full transparency the status of backorders, even if that information was not necessarily good news.
The Quest for Quality Awards are unique to the industry because they recognize services, not products, and more importantly the people behind those services. Platinum, Gold and Silver winners are recognized in 15 manufacturer categories and seven distributor categories.