RC: How would you assess the state of the roofing industry in 2022?
Mike Jost (MJ): After 2020, we were excited to start getting back to “normal.” While the year was not without challenges, in many ways 2021 exceeded expectations. ABC Supply continued expanding across the country, opening eight new locations and acquiring three companies. We strove to help our customers navigate material shortages and price volatility and provided them with useful tools like myABCsupply. Our associates came together to support deserving national causes like Homes For Our Troops, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and many worthy causes within the communities our branches serve. All in all, we’re very proud of our strong sales performance and all we’ve accomplished this year.
We expect that supply chain challenges will continue into 2022. While that won’t make keeping up with increased demand any easier, we’re optimistic about helping contractors be successful. We’ve learned a lot navigating the challenges so far. We offer tools and resources that can help contractors manage their projects and customers throughout a busy season, and our large national footprint allows us to leverage our size in solving problems for our customers.
RC: How did the supply shortages of 2021 impact business and where did you find stability?
MJ: ABC was affected by the supply chain crisis just as almost everybody was in 2021. It was difficult to predict lead times on many of the materials we supply, and some were difficult to purchase at all. Therefore, it was more important than ever that we worked with key suppliers and kept our lines of communication open. That’s where we found stability — with our vendor and customer partners. We were, and still are, all in this together. As long as we recognize that and keep talking about options every day, we’ll continue to fight through the challenges.
RC: What do you think was learned and how will that impact the industry moving forward?
MJ: We know that our manufacturers did the best they could in very difficult circumstances. Do we wish they could have filled every purchase order on time? Of course we do. But we know that they feel the same about their raw material suppliers. Some have told us that they will be increasing their safety stock, some are broadening their supply chain, others are adding capacity. Overall, our suppliers had efficient processes that were disrupted by the pandemic and ensuing supply chain crises, and we expect to see their efficiencies return in the future. Exactly when that will be, we wish we knew.
RC: Have you seen any progress in the workforce shortage in roofing, and what encourages/discourages you about the current approach?
MJ: Some of our customers are still struggling with the workforce shortage. We have seen contractors become more open to trying new products, tools and services that save them time and manpower, and therefore help alleviate their workforce challenges. It’s encouraging to see contractors getting creative to find solutions when simply hiring more people isn’t an option, and we’re always trying to make their jobs easier too. For example, we offer tools like myABCsupply and integrations with software like GAF QuickMeasure, EagleView and AccuLynx that can help contractors do more with less effort.
RC: What are you optimistic about in 2022?
MJ: The last two years have taught the industry the importance of being prepared and flexible. We’ve experienced a pandemic and the supply chain challenges that it spurred, and it seems that weather is becoming less predictable and more extreme each year. We’ve also learned that technology is critical in our industry. We’re optimistic that the industry has learned from these challenges and will only be stronger as we move into 2022 and beyond.