Ask the Expert: 3 Tips for Commercial Irrigation Project Preparation & Inventory Management

As we approach the end of summer and early fall, we normally see the season start to wind down—especially on the residential irrigation side. This year however, has thrown us a curveball or two including a late start to the season, manufacturer supply-chain issues, and in many places a higher demand for new projects and services than usual.

For many contractors, it looks like the residential season will continue on longer than normal. And beyond that, many are starting to see a ramp up for commercial irrigation projects. With so many things going on at once, how do you make sure that your project’s timelines stay on track, that you get inventory when you needed it, and that you keep these jobs profitable?

We’ve connected with Doug Armour, Central’s Irrigation Technical Manager, to hear his recommendations on the best way to maneuver a particularly challenging season and beyond.

 From Doug:

Looking ahead to the fall, winter and early 2021 we are anticipating some of the same manufacturer supply-chain issues to continue. Many manufacturers are operating at a lower capacity, as low as 50%, and some are still having challenges getting certain components or raw materials. With that in mind, I have outlined three things you can do to make sure you are prepared for your upcoming commercial irrigation projects.

Understand Where the Shortages Are

Earlier this year, we were all surprised when there was a toilet paper shortage nation-wide. In our industry, the unexpected shortage seems to be with funny/flex pipe. There has been a rush on funny/flex pipe, the same way we saw on toilet paper earlier this year. We’re also seeing some inconsistencies in product quality—too thick or too thin. Be sure to evaluate this product when you pick it up or it’s delivered to make sure it’s up to normal standards. At Central, we make sure to inspect the product when it comes in to us to make sure you receive the quality that you have come to expect.

For the most part, we are not seeing too many shortages on standard products. The manufacturers may have longer lead times on these items however. To help mitigate these longer lead times, our team at Central has worked diligently to make sure that we are ordering a surplus of these items well ahead of time. This helps to ensure that we have what you need, when you need it. Additionally, because we have 50 branches throughout 16 states and two countries, we’re able to transfer products between our locations if your local branch does not have what you need available.

The other area that manufacturers are having shortages, delays, and supply-chain issues is with higher-end, premium products like stainless steel heads. There may be a delay of up to six-to-eight weeks. This can be an issue, particularly for commercial jobs. Make sure to work with your Central Rep to order products as soon as you know you have been awarded the job. This will help to ensure you do not have any delays.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Planning is always an important to make sure your day-to-day runs smoothly. There are a lot of moving parts to the puzzle: when to order product, where each member of your team will be and on what day, and how much cash you have on hand for necessary purchases. Add in the component of manufacturer shortages and some of the other challenges we’ve had this year, and it can make everything you do more difficult and time consuming. With that in mind, planning and preparation is vital to ensure your daily operations and jobs run smoothly.

Preparation and planning doesn’t have to be something you tackle by yourself! Now is the time to work with your partners, like Central, to review upcoming jobs and projects, your last year’s purchases, what products may take longer to come in, and what programs are available for strategic purchases.

Take some time and schedule a planning meeting with your Central rep to discuss your needs and challenges—together, we can create a plan and solution that works for you. Additionally, Central offers a variety of early order programs that can help you be strategic with your purchases to ensure your day-to-day is streamlined, increase cashflow, and make inventory management easier.

Work with a Partner that Understands the Challenges and is Proactive

Working with a dedicated and trusted partner can make all the difference to get through particularly difficult seasons. When you work with a partner that understands the challenges and is proactive in addressing a solution as soon as they arise, or even tackle them before they become an issue—it helps you and your business stay on track.

The Central team has been diligently working with our manufacturing partners to stay at the forefront of any supply-chain or quality issues with products. This open communication and proactive planning has allowed us to bypass many of the challenges that other distributors have had with in-stock inventory.

Furthermore, we understand your challenges. We pride ourselves on being for the contractor, by the contractor. What’s important to you is important to us from the largest selection of in-stock inventory, flexible credit lines and terms, same-day delivery, and subject matter experts—we know that your success is our success.

Rely on Central to help, whether it’s questions about troubleshooting or installation, planning for supply-chain issues, or sharing insight and recommendations on the newest technologies. We stay at the leading edge of the industry and we’re ready to help you grow!

About Doug Armour

Doug Armour, Central’s Commercial Irrigation Technical Manager, is certified by the Irrigation Association as a Landscape Irrigation Water Manager, in addition he holds certifications with Hunter and Rain Bird, and has been factory trained with Tucor. He is an excellent resource for any technical questions about irrigation systems and for troubleshooting systems that are not working properly.