Highs and LowsBy Steve Lewis | August 3, 2021 << Back to Articles
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our industry has been on a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows, with few smooth spots in between. No matter your place in the cleaning industry, you’ve undoubtedly faced your fair share of curveballs.
The frequent twists and turns may seem discouraging at times, but, as Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, frequently states, “You don’t get off of the roller coaster in the middle of the ride.”
Without question, we are facing challenges in the cleaning industry. That’s nothing new. It just makes things more interesting when you’re trying to hit a moving target. Just 12 months ago, you couldn’t purchase hand sanitizer, gloves, or disinfectants at even triple the normal market price. At that time, there was no problem getting machines, floor pads, entrance matting, and other cleaning products. Some manufacturers of those items saw their product demand decrease by 30% to 50%. It was either feast or famine, simply determined by factors beyond our control.
Now, as vaccines have been distributed, the U.S. has started opening back up, increasing the demand for standard, everyday cleaning items. In many cases, you can find manufacturers of the most popular products last year with more inventory than demand. Whereas, some manufacturers of other more general cleaning products are struggling to hire enough workers to allow them to increase production to fill incoming orders.
With stimulus money going into the U.S. economy, consumers have been purchasing goods and driving up demand on just about everything. That is prompting companies like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s to replenish their inventories that declined in 2020 due to the reduction in consumer demand. Now, they have effectively cornered the majority of container space on ships, which has driven container costs up over 300%. This has left everyone else scrambling to find available containers and space on ships, to get their products to the U.S. from their offshore manufacturing facilities.
“If it’s not one thing, it’s another!” Although there are times lately the expression seems fitting, it is important to remember dirt isn’t going away. We are blessed to work in one of the most recession-proof industries there is, and cleaning is always going to be needed. With our population increasing, we have more opportunities to sell our goods and services, not less.
Our “new normal” has been anything but normal. I’m reminded of a speech given by a rising Republican politician, Abraham Lincoln, before he became the sixteenth president of the United States. His words offer as much solace today as when he uttered them in 1859. He stated, “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’ How much it expresses! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”
We’ve been through world wars, the stock market crash and subsequent Great Depression, civil and political unrest, economic down-turns, and a host of other crises throughout the years. And we’ve continued cleaning through all of them. We will overcome any obstacles thrown in front of us just as we have in the past, and our businesses and industry will be stronger in the end. Just remember during those instances when things get especially challenging, “This, too, shall pass.”
About the Author.
Steve Lewis is president of ISSA and also of Golden Star Inc., a company with a rich history of manufacturing cleaning-related products. He can be reached at 816-842-0233, ext.143 or [email protected].