Question: Judy, this supply chain situation is crazy! In many cases, I can’t get products I normally use in a timely manner. Do you have any recommendations on how to approach this problem?
— Lost Own Wherewithal
Answer: This is a timely question, LOW. And, it’s not just pesticides. Vehicles, vehicle up-fit materials, computers, cell phones, etc. — all seem to be a problem. I can’t provide the perspective of small and medium-sized companies, but I can tell you how Rollins Inc. is dealing with the supply chain issues. Hopefully there will be some nuggets of information you can apply to your situation.
First, I want to state my opinion about pesticides. I have my favorites, just like everyone else. However, I’ve learned over the years working with different people who are good at what they do, that my favorites might not be their favorites, but we still provide the customer with an excellent result. Ultimately, it’s the warrior, not the weapon they wield.
Spend your time training your technicians on how to inspect, how to understand the “enemy’s” biology, and where and how to apply product. Having a well-trained warrior will mean that having to switch products due to supply chain issues is just a blip instead of an earthquake.
Like many pest management companies, Rollins has an approved products list (APL). When we learn that an APL product is in short supply or not available, we start off by asking a few questions:
- When will it come back into supply? If it’s a relatively short time, check your stockroom and vehicles; you may have enough to power through until it’s available again.
- Is it a particular container size that is not available? While you normally order pints, it may be that gallon containers are available, for example. In many cases it’s been a lid, bottle, or heat seal material for a certain size container that’s in short supply, not the pesticide itself. While it may be a significant investment on your part, some manufacturers will provide their products in a drum size with smaller re-fillable containers. If you have an office location with the proper storage capability, this might be an option for you. So far, this delivery system has not been affected by supply chain issues.
- Are you applying product in instances where you could instead focus on inspection and pest-proofing? Clients pay us to protect them from pests, not to apply pesticides.
- What other products are in the category of pesticides that you can’t get? Let’s say it’s a dual active liquid residual. Research what other dual active liquid residuals are on the market. Read the labels of each. Have a list of “must-haves” when you research these products, such as whether it has a food area label. Determine what is important to you. Knowing what your options are will help accelerate your decision-making process. Your distributor should be able to fill you in on the options available in a particular category.
- What can you use in the meantime? Take stock of your storage room. As long as the products still have a state registration, use this as an opportunity to use up items you might have forgotten about.
- If you have been using a product that has two active ingredients in it, can you mix two single active ingredient products to get the “same” result? I’m specifically thinking about insect growth regulators (IGRs) and liquid residuals.
It’s worth noting Rollins Inc. has a policy against hoarding. Hoarding isn’t the answer; think 2020 and toilet paper, which was a supply chain issue of our own creation. A company of any significant size starting to hoard products could start a domino effect and impact the entire industry. Rather, my recommendation here is to simply follow your previous year’s forecast, with an adjustment for expected growth.