Guest Blog


Stuffed Shelves

January 3, 2011
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Before I start, my Italian wife just walked by and wanted to know if I was writing a cook book. No, but this could actually be a recipe for survival; for companies, that is. I told her that the other day I had stopped by a small fuel oil company to say hello to a friend (John, as he is called by humans). As I usually do, I asked him how business was. He replied that things were still slow, and that the owner of the company was complaining about cash flow and thinking about laying off one of the guys. While we chewed the fat, my friend continued to straighten out a huge pile of boxes on a shelf. With that, my wife said that she had heard enough, was hoping that I was going to cook tonight, and left the room. “How do you cook Ring Dings?” I wondered.

Anyway, John was organizing all of these boxes on these shelves which were filled with circulator pumps of every shape (?), brand, and size that you can think of. Tacos, B&Gs, Grundfos, you name it, they were all represented. “What are you doing with all of those?” I asked, pretending to be interested. “I don’t know, they’ve been here forever, and every time we do a boiler job, the manager orders one extra, “just in case.” Besides the 40 or so you see here, each of our four trucks has at least five more on board!

Believe me when I tell you, this was not even the tip of the inventory iceberg in this little shop. The $5,000 in circulators was dwarfed by the sea of furnace pieces, zone dampers, ductwork and other miscellaneous parts that made it difficult to find a truck in the garage of this place. Unfortunately, I think this is more the norm than not these days with any size company. Simply put, that very well may be your job sitting on the shelf. Even if it’s the owner himself buying too much stuff, your personal employment may depend on you making sure those things get used instead of him buying another. Help them turn that stuff into cash before they decide that their payroll is too big. John’s solution, by the way, was to throw it all in the trash. Dumpster diving, anyone?
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Stuffed Shelves

Steve
January 10, 2011
Boy do these comments hit home... Having worked for then owning a refrigeration business 30+years (in the old days)...this was very true. But there are two sides to this story. There was/is an advantage to stocking the product so if something broke you had the part to repair it; and actually this is becoming more a necessity in view that most wholesale houses (the bigger ones) are stocking less product) due to the corporate mentality for the need of high turn over of product and the government's increased taxing of product that they have on their shelves. And of course Rick's point of maybe having too much of the wrong product on your shelves. And shame on the manager to allow his people to double and triple order unneeded product. There should be a balance. The reason I say this is that I was guilty at one point of not paying attention to what and how many replacement parts where being ordered. It can be a problem one that the owner/manager has to address. To the point that wholesalers are not stocking like they used to; I don't have an immediate response other than 'the build it as demands dictates' and 'the hub and spoke' principles definitely need to be reassessed.

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