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I don’t know how many times I’ve said it or how many times I’ve heard other people say the same words, but the phrase, “what a strange year” is the best way I’ve found to describe 2021. When COVID hit last year, we suddenly faced tough decisions regarding orders and shipments of new inventory. In March 2020, the phones quit ringing, internet leads dropped and our showrooms emptied. We slashed orders of new inventory and hoped we had enough cash to keep us afloat until better times. However, by early Summer customers with PPP money and government-provided incentive checks flooded our showrooms with new-found purchasing power. As inventory dwindled and our display lots became empty the waiting list of equipment began.
This has continued into 2021 and appears likely to continue through the end of the year. Kubota, like other manufacturers, has struggled with supply-chain issues causing inventory shortages like nothing I’ve seen. Production times of popular models of equipment extended well past their due dates, causing delays in shipments and frustrating Kubota dealers and customers across the country. Fortunately, most people have been understanding and have waited patiently for the equipment they need, while some have gone elsewhere. It’s been frustrating for both us and them.
However, as of this writing, we’re beginning to see improvement. Shipments are arriving more often, lead times are shrinking and customers are waiting less than they were in the summer. Looking ahead, I believe as we reach the first quarter of next year, supply will improve and demand will decrease, and we will see our lots and showrooms begin to refill.
But of course, when speaking of this year how can I not mention the abundant rainfall we received? While sales of RTV’s and construction equipment make up half our business, the other half, tractors and mowers, still require rainfall to provide the push we need to encourage customers to visit our website and showrooms. Typically, by the end of June, clouds diminish, a high-pressure system settles over us and daily temperatures in the hundreds become the norm. However, this year has been anything but normal. In August, my least favorite month of the year, the grass was still green, and our hay customers were busy cutting their fields - hopeful to get the hay baled before the next rain. In nearly 30 years of working in the industry, I cannot think of a time with so many extremes.
So, what will next year bring? Tough to say. Hopefully, some return to normalcy in our supply chain but I’m a bit pessimistic we’ll see a repeat of the 2021 weather pattern. Regardless, we’ll be here, as we have been for the last 73 years, working with you, our customers, to provide the tools you need to get your work completed and do it with a smile to make your day. And as always, we thank you for your business.