What a year it has been since the Virus first started shutting things down a year ago. In the initial weeks and months after the lockdown started, we saw our sales plummet. While our governor allowed construction work to continue as an essential business, people were reluctant to visit model homes, so sales and potential sales dropped. Worse yet, we were not sure how the owners of the homes under construction would react. Fortunately, as the summer started and Florida stayed relatively safe, things improved. We had a good 2nd half of the year in sales and by the 4th quarter, prospects for new houses were everywhere. This led us into the 1st quarter of 2021. This quarter has been by far and away our highest level of sales since the recession and in total dollars greater than any before.
There are many reasons why Florida and other areas are experiencing the housing boom, and I won’t attempt to document them here. I do want to comment on how the virus and the housing boom have and are affecting the industry. Our first virus issued occurred early in the pandemic. Ohio shut down non-essential factories, which shut down a cabinet company we used. The home owner had to reselect to keep construction moving. Early in the pandemic there were only minor delays encountered. However, as time went on, almost every aspect of construction was affected. From construction crews testing positive and going into quarantine, to other factories shutting down or going to restricted hours, things continued to worsen. When we heard of, or discovered issues, we pre-ordered as much of a product as we could to avoid delays. As the pandemic continued, we found new issues from tile factories in Spain closing factories in the middle of orders, to delays at various ports based on their quarantine procedures.
Now, given the extra demand in place from the high level of sales, things continue to worsen. Concrete block is now over a month order, generators can be up to 6 months, A/C equipment, interior trim, driveway and pool deck pavers all have a multiple month order period. The freeze in Texas has placed an extra demand to replace pool equipment, plumbing fixtures, PVC pipes and copper damaged in the freeze.
We plan and react as best as possible during this time. Our policy of using consistent subs, has helped us get both man power and materials needed. Our color selection process also starts early, allowing us to place orders in advance of needing things so we can have it available as needed.
In short, we expect continued shortages of materials and work force as the sales all companies have made this season get started. We will continue to do the best we can given the situations we encounter. Product delays can sometimes be mitigated by reselections to similar available materials, and we will suggest this from time to time.
For us in the construction industry, this is what the phrase “new normal” has come to mean.