Limited availability on plastics, rubber-based parts, as farm part shortages continue

Even as we enter a third year of COVID-related disruptions, farm and agriculture part stores are still finding it difficult to keep certain items in stock due to supply chain issues that continue to plague the industry. Additionally, for some items, including many petroleum products, the price point has seen a steep increase, with no real end in sight.

Forecasting the needs of customers and managing inventory has become a whole new ballgame for parts managers and store owners as some items just simply aren’t available. Frank Ryberg, parts manager with Rocky Mountain Equipment (RME) in Kindersley, Sask., says they’re being told some item wont be able to be reordered anytime soon.

“Anything to do with a plastic anything made of rubber, like rubber packer wheels, we can’t get any more, like – we’re done. Our suppliers have told us forget it this year. We’re just not getting them, like some discs for some of the air seeders. They just flat out told us, don’t even don’t even phone anymore, don’t order because you’re not getting it. Simple as that. So that’s pretty hard to tell a producer”

Ryberg adds that air seeder hoses have tripled in price this year compared to last and when his inventory that he ordered last year is gone, customers will be looking at a higher price tag if they have to be ordered in. Other items that required stocking up on include batteries, which Ryberg said he ordered what would be considered a nine-month supply, just to be on the safe side.

COVID is still being blamed for the setbacks and delays whether it’s continued labour shortages or transportation issues and according to Ryberg, some manufacturers and suppliers aren’t wavering and are providing little to no long term solutions.

“They are just wiping their hands, we’ve actually put in complaints to them and they just come back to us with – this is what it is – and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Diversify, adapt and rally has become the name of the game and Trent Aylward, owner of Rosetown Muffler and Bearing, says they are doing just that by bringing other suppliers on board to meet the needs of their customers.

“We definitely have had to get creative, no question – with bearings, we used to just sell the one brand, and now we can get our hands on three or four different brands, just for that reason, if we can’t get the one brand, we’ll still get it for you. But it’s going to be in a different brand than you’re used to.”

For Aylward the price increases are being seen with petroleum products like oil and also batteries. For product scarcity, he says the shortages are being seen on items such as filters, bearings and items made of¬†polyurethane, where the suppliers are simply saying, they can’t fulfill some orders.

“I think one piece of advice maybe would be, don’t drain the oil in that piece of equipment until you have the new filter in your hand. Because you might drain the oil and think – I’ll just rip into town and get the filter while the oil is draining – well, the filter might not be in town.”

With parts stores essentially being the middleman, it’s never an easy task to say they can’t get something in, or they can – but it’s going to be a lot more money than the customer is used to paying. Despite the current and ongoing challenges, Aylward says he’s received nothing but understanding and support from his community and customers.