Dear Reader January/February 2023

January 27th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs

The Tumultuous Twenties

By Chris Collier

At the beginning of 2022, I opened a year-long poll where readers could rate their top pain points of the year. The results are in, with plenty of unfortunate hurdles to analyze. Nearly 40% of respondents selected “supply chain” as their top challenge; 28.6% selected a “lack of skilled installers” and 10.7% cited “inflation regarding material prices.” Others voted for “installers who leave during slow season” and “inflation regarding employee pay” as highly-ranked obstacles.

What’s New?

These barriers to success are relevant in 2023, a year full of economic uncertainty as it begins. I talked to Kyle Fuller, owner of The Bar, a juice bar in Warner Robins, Ga., about tightening budgets at the onset of last year.

“The cost of orange juice just went from $1.80 something to $3.60 something a jug,” Fuller says. “Groceries keep rising. Our margins on selling things are going down and down.”

The Bar is a side gig for Fuller, who operates Tint Pro in Warner Robins, Ga. Inflation is presenting challenges on that front as well. “Everybody’s looking for more money right now because that’s the conversation in the news. If you were worth $7 yesterday, you’re worth $15 today.”

The supply chain, the skills gap, inflation and slow season may signify the challenges the industry faces right now, but there is hope in crucial areas. Window Film magazine covered the new car shortage in the January/February 2022 issue, and the impact on dealership-related automotive film work was substantial. Hawaii’s T&T Tinting Specialists re-assigned automotive staff members to flat glass projects to stay on track, and it worked.

A Blessing

“Luckily, we’ve been blessed with a bunch of contracts for several buildings at the same time,” said Tommy Silva, CEO of T&T Tinting Specialists. “That helped us keep everybody employed and not have to furlough anybody or anything like that. Especially through the holidays, we hate to do that. We’ve kept everybody busy even though we’ve had this slump.”

Help could be on the way for those relying on dealership work to stay busy. Data from Cox Automotive shows new car and truck inventories have reached their highest levels since June 2021, near the beginning of the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage.

There were 1.32 million vehicles in inventory in September 2022, representing a 42-day supply, according to Automotive News. That number was approximately 500,000 vehicles higher than September 2021’s supply.

Here’s to signs of a market climbing— slowly but surely—back to normalcy and a successful 2023 for you, your family, your employees and your shops.

Chris Collier is the editor for Window Film magazine.
ccollier@glass.com

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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