2022 Crystal Ball
In early December, I sat down with my friend, the famous From the Fabricator blogger/podcaster and head of Sole Source Consultants, Max Perilstein. We took out the 2022 crystal ball and chatted through our projections for the industry in the new year.
Inflation and supply
Max Perilstein: The biggest concern I see going into 2022 is price escalation. No one has a feel for how that’s going to play out and look. Your smart businesses are going to be able to survive. But, there is going to be disruption, with some companies not able to make it through 2022. It’s a combination of supply chain, price escalation and the COVID situation. That’s the bad news side.
Katy Devlin: It seems like many companies came into 2020 with more cash on hand. They seemed to be more resilient at the start of COVID. But it’s been two years of uncertainty.
MP: That resilience was also the PPP. We saw big numbers of companies getting PPP loans. But you can only run on that for so long.
KD: You mention supply chain, which has been the big concern among everyone I’ve talked to for months. My forecast is that we will start to see improvement midway through the year. Ports are working at record levels. Supply will start to catch up to demand.
MP: The smaller components, hardware, spacer, that will start to loosen up. Glass will still be challenging.
KD: I worry that the construction industry’s low vaccination rate is going to be a problem in 2022.
MP: Even with no OSHA mandates, we’re already hearing from glaziers that they are struggling to man jobs that have a vaccination requirement. If the mandates do hold up, and companies with more than 100 employees need vaccinations, that is really going to affect our fabricator base as well. Companies are trying very hard, but the messaging on this has been such a mess from the beginning. I’ve heard of one fabricator in Mississippi that is incentivizing workers with $1,000 to get the vaccine.
KD: Yes, I’ve heard something similar from a glazier that is doing the same. They said even such a large incentive ends up paying off, as there is less missed time due to COVID absenteeism.
Product and process improvements
MP: Glass companies are finding they have to be more sophisticated. They know that sustainability is the way to go. They know they have to sell higher-margin products—things that also do well by the environment, whether it’s net zero, bird-friendly, solar.
KD: Similarly, companies are becoming more sophisticated in their processes. COVID has forced them to digitize, to introduce automation, to bite the bullet and invest in those solutions. They need to increase productivity with fewer people.
MP: I really thought interior explosion would happen in 2021, but it was delayed due to delta. Even now, with the new variant coming through, companies are moving ahead with their renovations. These interiors, especially in cities, are being gutted and remodeled. Every design is open floor plan with glass and glazing. We’ll have a good start to that in 2022, and it’s going to continue.
Hot takes in sports
KD: I can’t bring you in for a 2022 forecast without getting your bold predictions in the world of sports. Who do you have coming out on top next year?
MP: I think the Baltimore Ravens are going to win the Super Bowl.
KD: Wow, that is a hot take, Max. Okay. I’m going to be a homer and say, despite the antics of Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will take it.
MP: For the NBA, I do like your Milwaukee Bucks to repeat. There’s nothing like Giannis.
KD: I like that prediction. Here’s hoping. Bucks in Six.