Does This Look Easy to You?


Eighty-two week lead times for some discrete components, raw material shortages and cost increases, domestic ground freight charges that have doubled in the last six months, a late winter storm in Texas that shutdown the chemical feed stock & polymer industries and “Help Wanted” signs everywhere.

We’ve been at this a long time and have seen everything… But never all at the same time. Clearly this is a difficult if not wrenching time for all of us who design, build and purchase hardware. It will get better, but we’re not sure when.

While product development, manufacturing and procurement have never been easy, current circumstances are making it even more challenging. Our work has been made more demanding by global market conditions. Even for “simple” products.

As an example, take a look at the sketch below. It shows an “easy” carry handle used for luxury attaché cases:

Couldn’t be easier – right? Essentially a BOM of three parts: a molded plastic handle; and left and right mounting hardware. How hard could this be? Hint: pretty damn hard.

In the sketch, we the show a Supply Chain Vendor Map that lists the “first degree” suppliers needed to fabricate the handle. There are nine separate vendors required to support the manufacturing program. Each of them comes with their own MOQs (minimum order quantities) and lead times. And each of the nine are all dependent on their own complex ecosystems of suppliers and subcontractors.

So, when our customer wants to make a small tweak to the dampening hinge’s closing speed, a minor geometry modification, or something as seemingly insignificant as ordering a new color, the effect on the supply chain is dramatic. Those little changes trigger a wave of phone calls, searches for alternative subcontractors (who aren’t short staffed), frantic negotiations and the qualification and substitution of components and materials that can be scrounged… Somewhere.

So when we hear “How difficult could this be – why are you guys making this so difficult? Our customer is dead in the water and we need to ship”, it doesn’t go unheard. We’ve already risk bought raw materials, shifted production to areas that aren’t under Covid lock down and our wonderful staff have moved into the factories so they can develop manufacturing methods, perform FAI and get your product out the door.

Please be patient and gentle with your suppliers. We’ll all get through this together.


Jack Daniels


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