Navigating Manufacturing and Supply Delays with Professionalism and Integrity

September 14, 2021

Right now, the number one challenge for an owner’s rep/project manager in the commercial real estate industry is managing not only the issues at hand related to deliveries of materials and equipment but also our clients’ expectations about what are proving to be difficult-to-predict project schedules. The manufacturing industry has seen a shortage of labor due to the pandemic which is contributing to delays in shipments. Delivering materials and equipment to jobsites timely can be a huge challenge. Just about on a weekly basis, you can bet on at least 2 or 3 products a week which are difficult to get. Be it metal studs, mechanical equipment, furniture, and almost any other product you can imagine.

These delays can be attributed to the pandemic labor shortage. For example, a plant that previously had 500 employees 2 years ago may be operating at half that. The shortages at plants and ports are due to a combination of people not returning to work for health and childcare reasons, and plants being required to work at various shifts in order to keep workers socially distanced and safe. Suppliers and manufacturers are raising their prices. Contractors are paying more for materials and are in turn filtering these costs down to the clients. Additionally, contractors are adding more of a cushion to their prices to mitigate their own risk should they have to pay more for skilled labor onsite. The decrease in skilled tradespeople in the United States that was a steady trend pre-covid has been exacerbated by the pandemic, and contractors don’t want to take on too much risk should a problem arise once construction begins.

So, with all this bad news, what is a project manager to do? The ball is in our court to be aware of what is happening in the industry and lay out a schedule for the client the best that we can while explaining to them why project schedules look very different than they did two years ago. We can keep tabs on cost by maintaining lines of communication with the contractors, design firms, and clients on an almost daily basis. We must focus on being aware of the challenges that are happening right now in the industry and get ahead of any issues that will arise by laying down realistic expectations with our clients. Be transparent with all involved on the project, and keep detailed track of costs, and you should be able to navigate these tricky times with professionalism and integrity for your clients.



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