Four ways to unshackle the supply chain

COVID-19 has caused many supply chain challenges, but being proactive and aggressive can help manufacturers reduce potential headaches. Four tips are highlighted.

By Brent Felten, Katie Molstad and Brian Sander March 3, 2022
Courtesy: Henderson Engineers

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disrupted global supply chain has resulted in an unwelcome purchasing experience, including empty store shelves, delayed deliveries and unavailable merchandise. Given the worldwide scope of this issue, the building industry hasn’t been immune to these shortages and delays either. The demand for building facilities of all types, from healthcare to retail and warehouse, remains strong. However, the availability of the equipment, components, and materials needed to complete these projects on time and on budget remains uncertain and seemingly shifts on a whim.

Our approach to this challenge is a balance of technical ingenuity, industry know-how and leveraging relationships to minimize delays. With supply chain woes likely to continue for the foreseeable future as new COVID-19 variants emerge, here are four ways to deliver projects with minimal disruption.

1. Early procurement

Supply chain issues lengthen lead times for when equipment and materials can be delivered to a job site. Procuring equipment earlier in the design phase of a project is one key to countering this challenge. This is accomplished by working closely with our clients to establish early equipment specifications in advance of design document completion.

Henderson Building Solutions is uniquely suited to support early procurement. Since Henderson Building Solutions is a licensed contractor in most states, we’re often able to personally assist our clients with advanced procurement of equipment before a general contractor or subcontractors even begin working on a project. Early procurement specifications also give clients the same advantage of being able to acquire items in advance if they prefer to purchase equipment independently, thus avoiding any supply chain issues that may arise at later stages. Through Henderson’s longstanding vendor relationships, we are also able to connect clients with high volume building projects to our National Account connections and assist them with establishing procurement provisions in their agreements.

2. Open specifications

While early procurement is a helpful tool, open specifications that include multiple vendors from whom to source equipment and products are also a key to combatting supply chain issues. Open specifications give contractors and subcontractors the freedom to choose which products to purchase, offering them much-needed flexibility in both price and lead time throughout every phase of a project. However, not every product is created equal. A quality, open specification is especially beneficial for projects pursuing a design-bid-build project delivery method, where there is a lengthy lead time between project kick-off and completion of design documents and when supply availability can have a drastic shift.

Courtesy: Henderson Engineers

Courtesy: Henderson Engineers

3. Leveraging industry relationships

The old saying goes, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” Henderson’s technical and in-the-field expertise are key advantages during this unpredictable period. We design countless projects in a variety of markets on an annual basis, giving us scale that helps forge relationships with manufacturers and suppliers across the country. Furthermore, our national office footprint in these markets has helped us establish bonds with local and regional manufacturers’ representatives who can often help in acquiring priority assistance. Manufacturers and supplies are also our clients and the personal relationships we develop with them go a long way toward curtailing supply chain issues.

4. Open communication and education

In addition to going the extra mile to achieve project goals, open communication is a cornerstone of the client experience and we’re leaning into it even further. While no company can foresee supply and pricing fluctuations during this uncertain period, our experts are keeping close watch and relaying our findings to clients and business partners in a timely manner to ensure all relevant parties are aware and can make educated decisions and adjustments as we maneuver through these challenges together.

This article originally appeared on Henderson Engineers’ websiteHenderson Engineers is a CFE Media content partner.

Original content can be found at

Author Bio: Brent Felten, retail sector client relationship director | principal, Henderson Engineers Katie Molstad, retail sector design & construction director | retail sector luxury practice director | principal, Henderson Engineers Brian Sander, retail sector technical director | principal, Henderson Engineers