COVID-19 has taken a toll on much of the country, and one area is the manufacturing and movement of electrical infrastructure materials. FreeState is preparing for a potential shortage now in hopes the proactive approach will mean less of an impact on members.
“What we’re seeing is our suppliers are alerting us to some significant delays in getting materials shipped to us,” said John Malone, FreeState safety and resource manager. “We’re in constant communication with our suppliers and we’ve taken some measures to ensure we have what we need if we have a major need, but there are some situations that we have had to adjust.”
Those adjustments have been prioritizing jobs and looking at how materials can be either used more efficiently or substitutes can be made. FreeState’s Operation’s Manager Zach Sterling says that the co-op’s superintendents have been diligent and aware of inventories when sending out jobs.
“We’ve moved some things around, and we have reprioritized in some instances,” said Sterling. “We have had a couple of jobs that we’ve moved to the bottom of the list because they are not considered a high priority at this time.”
Sterling adds that few member projects should be impacted, but there is a chance that if the delay continues, jobs may see a slight delay.
“We do want our members to know that we’re doing everything we can to make sure we can get materials,” said Sterling. “We are working with our purchasing department and material supplier to determine how we can best work through any potential issues should they arise.”
“We don’t anticipate any impact to member projects, but we want to be upfront with our members so they know what we may be facing in the near future,” Sterling added.
Malone said his department has begun sourcing materials from multiple sources instead of just relying on the regular vendors.
“If a vendor tells us we have a delay, then we go on the hunt to find a supplier that may not be delayed,” Malone said. “We are doing the best we can to make certain we are as prepared as possible for storms or bigger projects that may come up, so we are shuffling materials around and we are all working together to make sure our members have exactly what they need when they need it.”