The answer is yes!!
After over 35 years in the trailer industry, I am definitely no rookie, but the circumstances surrounding Covid have certainly been new and challenging.
I have seen dump trailers have a spike and wow – it takes 4 months to get one. Custom cattle trailers have 9 -10 month lead times, and some specialty unit lead times take up to 13-14 months to manufacture. In the spring, enclosed car hauler orders will likely stretch out to a 5 – 6 month wait time. Once these spikes go away, the normal 4 – 7 week wait times should return.
Although the pandemic will be blamed for the shortage of trailers, it really started at the end of 2019. The year 2019 was a banner year and lead times were 2-3 weeks longer than typical lead times. When 2020 started out very strong, manufacturing factories had plenty of orders and little inventory. Because of this, we placed extra orders sooner than usual. Finally, March arrived, and the pandemic with it. Some of our manufacturers closed but some did not. We saw customers rush in to get trailers before they disappeared. We never closed, but did reduce hours and closed on weekends for a bit. We started out 2020 very well stocked, and for a moment I thought I over-purchased!! Other than the cargo and car haulers, the flow of the product was very steady and we were able to fill almost all of our customer’s needs. Our service facility had all the workload it could handle. Our inventory levels depleted fast and were at the lowest levels in our history.
By June, all manufacturing facilities were back and working as hard as they could, but they had new issues to deal with. The manufacturers that relied on incoming components to build their trailers started struggling, as fenders, windows, doors, axles and many other components were in short supply. Other factors that slowed production were due to the labor force as many moved to other jobs, some chose not to work, and factories had to practice social distancing and learn new ways to be productive.
Here is where we are now.
Our lot is open and we have just enough to outline the front rows. We are about 175 trailers shy of our normal inventory levels, and we have over 300 trailers orders placed at this time. Orders arriving now were placed between September and October of 2020. Although product selection should be in good shape for spring and early summer, my outlook for fall and winter is not so good. We will not order much until we move several of the 300 pieces coming in. If lead times are still 4 months and longer, we will likely run out of inventory.
Lead times vary widely depending on product type and brand. The shortest lead time we are experiencing is 4 months from any manufacturers and 13 months being the longest. Enclosed car haulers, steel dump trailers, steel cattle trailers, steel equipment trailers, and open aluminum utility trailers are the hardest hit. Again, demand is high for all of these, but supply is low.
Currently, manufacturing is back in full swing. Manufacturers are adding employees and increasing production as space and raw materials allow. Some have ceased production of less popular models and concentrated on their best sellers only!
We are limited to what our manufactures can deliver to us and lead times for replacement trailers are far longer than normal. Our inventory is skinny despite all our efforts to replenish it. We did place orders very early to keep them coming in through the fall of this year, so hopefully, we guessed it RIGHT! Our manufacturers have been great to work with and even allow change orders. If you need something specific and at a certain time, we will do our best to accommodate by exchanging your order with an existing stock order.
As always, our goal is to supply the best trailers, best service, and the best customer service. We will continue to keep you informed and do our absolute best to accommodate your needs when at all possible. If you will be needing something soon I would suggest that you get down to Davis Trailer World and speak with one of our staff.