Riding lawn mower shortage hits some Cape Breton dealers

SYDNEY – Zero. That’s the number of riding lawnmowers Steve van Nostrand has sold so far this year.

For further clarification, however, the owner and chairman of Keltic Kubota in Sydney said the sales drought was “not due to a lack of demand or a lack of product. Our biggest batch of affordable lawn tractors actually arrives within the next two weeks…which, in reality, is two months late.

“They had issues getting into Briggs & Stratton engines and Kohler engines this year, for some reason.”

Demand for riding lawn mowers remains high, he said, and until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in mid-March 2020, Kubota mower sales were buoyant.

“We always place our orders in the fall for the upcoming spring,” van Nostrand said. “And normally they would be shipped to us anywhere between February and May.

“IF WE HAD MORE, WE WILL SELL MORE”

“Whereas this year … we got some of our Kubota products – lawn tractors, zero-turns – but not so much the Cub Cadet products. We’re still getting into Kubota zero turns but…we’re pretty much done with Kubota lawn tractors. Just because of the lack of deliveries. The demand is still very high, and if we had more, we would sell more.

Much of the blame has been placed on supply chain disruptions and the difficulty of getting products and parts to this part of the country.

A year into the pandemic, lawn tractor manufacturer Cub Cadet felt the need to let its dealers, retailers and customers know it was having inventory issues. “The cost of raw materials has increased and many materials used in consumer goods, such as resin and steel, have become difficult to obtain,” the company said on its website in March 2021. “As a result , many businesses… have been challenged to operate at pre-COVID rates and maintain inventory to meet high demand.

PRODUCT SUPPLY PROBLEM

However, Dave MacRae, owner of SJ MacRae & Son Ltd. in Baddeck, said he was experiencing decent sales of riding mowers. The main concern for him revolves around the supply of products.

“We put our major reservation towards the end of October for next year,” said MacRae, who sells Cub Cadet, Stihl and Husqvarna lawn tractors. “And we received about 80% of that. Which is correct compared to other stories I’ve heard that other dealerships are only 30-40% of what they ordered last fall.

“And the company is scrambling just to try and…let’s just say there’s no such thing as rearranging things at this time of year, which would be normal in the past. But now we’re just grateful to have what we ordered.

Before the pandemic, MacRae said it would be routine to place orders in the fall, with new products – normally arriving in January or February. “And we usually got whatever we ordered,” he said.

Throughout a season, there would typically be additional inventory available to reorder “in case certain designs run out,” he said.

Amid the pandemic this year, “there are some models that won’t even be available this summer. The company is scrambling to try to fill orders that dealers placed with them last fall.

George Karaphillis, Dean of CBU’s Shannon School of Business: “You could also bring the supply chain closer to home. » CONTRIBUTE – CONTRIBUTE

DIVERSIFY THE SUPPLY CHAIN

If there is a lesson to be learned from the pandemic and, therefore, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, manufacturers and producers must diversify their own supply chain, says George Karaphillis, the current dean of the Shannon School. of Business from Cape Breton University.

“They can no longer rely on a single supplier or a single manufacturer for one or a few components,” he said. “You need to have suppliers in multiple locations or at least offer alternatives. I think now manufacturers have learned that and now they’re trying to change their models and their strategies on how to do things, rather than maintaining rigid rules.

Pandemic lockdowns, particularly in overseas countries, have also likely wreaked major havoc on suppliers accessing parts and components, Karaphillis said.

“You could also bring the supply chain closer to home,” he said. “Because of all the political issues – as well as transportation issues. This way you rely less on any of these disturbances. It just helps to better diversify where the components of the product can be found.

Ian Nathanson is a political reporter at the Cape Breton Post. Follow him on Twitter at @CBPost_Ian

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