Hello, and thanks for joining us for our year-end edition of our Everkem Caulk Talk newsletter. I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to an exciting new year! This past year has been quite an adventure for everyone, and Everkem is no exception.
After moving into our new manufacturing facility during the early onset of the pandemic in March of 2020, we entered 2021, chomping at the bit with high expectations for 2021.
But, as the poem goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.”
I contracted Covid earlier this spring, and several of our staff have as well throughout the year. This, in conjunction with the labor shortage, left us working with a limited team. Raw material shortages, supply chain disruptions, and soaring prices further complicated matters. This unique and unprecedented combination of factors has recently left our machines idle and our customers’ warehouses empty.
It has been highly (and understandably) frustrating for our customers, stressful for our team, and yet curiously profitable for upstream vendors and suppliers. To call it a ‘difficult time’ would be an understatement.
As I reflect on it all, I can’t help but draw parallels to one of my favorite activities – outdoor running.
As an avid outdoor runner, I prefer remote trails and steep hills. I’m comfortable going slow and steady over rugged terrain for long runs. I take pride in putting in the ‘dirt time’ as well as picking up the occasional scar from a thorny bush, letting me know that I’ve gotten a bit too close for its liking.
Facing unknown challenges of an ever-changing terrain is an exciting experience. Even though, at times, I’m sweaty, dirty, and bloody, I enjoy digging down to find the strength and endurance it takes to physically, mentally, and spiritually make it to the end of the trail. I believe that all of this helps me be a more patient father for my daughters and a more decisive, more supportive leader for my team.
I carry this same view over to running a caulk manufacturing plant. It’s a dusty, dirty, sticky, gritty, grind-it-out type of job. People break down, machines break down, and everything makes a mess. And now, that tendency of things breaking down has extended to the global supply chain, leaving us balanced precariously on slippery, wet rocks in the middle of a rushing river.
But the difficulties aren’t limited to just silicone. Securing timely stock for our firestopping products, hybrid sealants, and polyurethane foam sealants has been an uphill battle, complicated by costs rising almost 40%. Meanwhile, the cost of raw materials used in our acrylic latex products has increased 53%.
And all of these problems are multiplied by the consistency of our vendors’ inconsistency. Shipping and receiving dates are all over the board, and pricing is scattershot. In many cases, we are paying new, higher prices on unshipped materials orders that were placed months ago at a much lower cost.
As I enter my 20th year as an Everkem partner, I have to admit that I have questioned my stamina and ability to lead. The task of guiding my team and our customers through this chaos while bringing everyone and everything together to meet the rising demand of our customers is daunting.
Recently, and on more than one occasion, I’ve felt like selling the business and running away from everything. There have been times that I’ve been so stressed that I have had to abruptly leave the office to avoid having a meltdown. I felt unworthy of making the tough decisions and dealing with the enormous complexity of running a caulking company in the current market conditions. Like Forrest Gump running through the desert, I feel like telling everyone, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”
Thankfully, I love what I do. I love the people. I love the process. I take the good right along with the bad and the ugly. I remind myself that I have to continue being the best I can be through the good times and the bad. Every day, one day at a time. Only through that continued attempt can I fulfill my commitment to my family, my team, and our customers. That’s what I signed up for when we made our commitment to serving you, and we are going to finish strong.
Although I sometimes feel as if we’re letting you all down, our team has received an overwhelming response of understanding and support from our customers. Hearing that our lead times, responsiveness, and transparency have been much better than many other vendors means the world to our Everkem team. Those words are encouraging and continue to motivate us to keep moving forward.
Our goal is to be the voice that represents the caulk, sealant, and adhesive industry. We seek to provide relevant information, responsive service, and dependable product performance that improves the applications they’re used in and your bottom line.
Grinding it out through 2021 has forced us to think outside the box, find alternative solutions, and come together as not only a team but an entire industry. A year in which so many things didn’t go right has taught us to appreciate the little things that do. It has helped us realize we’re capable of enduring far more than what we thought possible, and we can take solace in knowing that “This too shall pass.”
And, as 2021 passes into history, a new year is coming. A new year that is sure to be filled with unknown challenges, new possibilities, and exciting opportunities to come.
As we end the year with our Caulk Talk newsletter, I wanted to take the time to thank you for your patience, partnership, and continued support. Our commitment to being an outstanding supplier is stronger than ever, and we are excited to put ourselves to the test.
We plan to continue calling, emailing, and visiting to keep you informed as we continue to navigate the challenges ahead. And of course, we’ll continue shipping as much product out the door as consistently, quickly, and affordably as possible.
After all, making caulk is a dirty job – but someone has to do it! We are excited that you continue to be a part of our Everkem Experience heading into 2022. We are grateful for your trust in allowing Everkem to be the glue that holds it all together.