To get a new stove or dining room table, you probably have at least a 14 to 16 week wait.
We can look at a hot tub to see why.
The Hot Tub Supply Chain
The journey of your hot tub ends at your doorstep after leaving a retailer’s warehouse.
While getting to you by train and then truck was the easy part, still, the tub might have been delayed because trucking companies were relatively slow to reopen after Covid closures. Meanwhile, unpredictable container ship arrivals at West Coast ports upset freight train schedules.
As we would expect, these truck and train delays disrupted factory schedules. At the Bullfrog Spas assembly plant in Utah, up to 1,850 hot tub parts come from Texas, Kentucky, Nevada, Georgia and 10 other states. Also originating in four countries including China and Mexico, components enter the U.S. at East and West Coast ports. Because lockdowns shifted our orders, container ships had to change their loads and routes. Unpredictable arrivals led to coastal bottlenecks while month-long delays rippled along train and truck routes.
Then, adding to the upset, Bullfrog got no deliveries from Texas when weather closed parts of the state for weeks during February. As for the tubs’ touch screens, massive chip shortages (from ordering miscalculations) limited their supply. Similarly, the pandemic constrained the production of the top shell, the plastic beams, the water pumps, the cabinet, and all other parts that compose a hot tub.
Our Bottom Line: Transportation Infrastructure
Bullfrog Spas estimates that a hot tub’s parts traveled 887,776 miles before winding up in our backyard. We could say that those parts moved along a transportation infrastructure.
The U.S. transportation infrastructure began with the Erie Canal. Built between 1817 and 1825, the Erie Canal connected Albany to Buffalo, New York. Most crucially, it enabled a national market to form. thereby permitting eastern manufacturers to trade with western suppliers of raw materials. Instead of moving via slow and expensive overland routes, goods could travel across the Erie Canal (and then East or West) more cheaply and quickly.
Now, shown by the following link in the hot tub supply chain, that market is global:
So, when a pandemic “snarls” a hot tub supply chain, it tangles a worldwide transportation infrastructure.
My sources and more: All facts on the hot tub are from WSJ.