Shipping internationally and even nationally has become a problem in 2021. Corran Addison gives us a break down the issues and the work Soul Waterman is carrying out to get its boats to customers.
Just when you think 2020 can’t be matched, so 2021 comes along to prove you wrong. We’re getting weekly emails now asking “Where is my darn kayak?”.
And understandably so!
There are some of the big challenges the entire outdoor industry is facing, and kayaking is no exception to this. There are supply chain issues affecting every supplier at every level of the manufacturing process – from raw materials, to completed individual components. This has caused delivery times to slip, which is part of why our delivery dates are not being met.
To throw salt on the wound, there’s a global shipping crisis. There’s been a huge increase in Exports from China, and imports into N America and Europe, which have caused massive port delays. There’s also a serious container shortage. Add in some port strikes, and you’re really starting to get the picture!
These issues have been all over the news recently, effecting many industries.
So, what are we doing? We have left no stone unturned in trying to get boats built and shipped on time. We’ve bought components at 2-3 times the usual rates to get priority from suppliers. We’ve made additional tooling so that we can produce faster and are paying exorbitant amounts to airfreight parts from our suppliers to the factory to save time.
We are continuing to offer a wide variety of options for our kayaks. An array of colours, weights, and outfitting specs. We are trying to stay true to the concept that no one build spec is perfect for all paddlers, but if the shortages and supply issues continue, we may have to address this for 2022 and simplify the line.
Due to the efforts from our suppliers, and the factory, we were able to have our first shipment for N America picked up in mid-March and had a booking for the end of the month. The shipment cleared customs, and then our booking was cancelled. It is unclear why, but we suspect space was being made for a bigger player. So, the container has been sitting in Shanghai collecting dust and running up daily storage fees. At best, this will leave May 20, and even that is not a guarantee. From there its 25 days to Montreal, barring any additional port delays or strikes.
For Europe, the shipment was completed a month ago, but we’re holding it at the factory waiting for container availability.
Meanwhile we paid for all the components going back to November, and the finished boats before they were completed, and the loans are running up interest as the kayakss sit idle. This problem is not unique to us – as an industry, all the kayaking companies, regardless of where they are made, are suffering the same fate.
The shipping crisis has caused a spike in prices. Container prices shot from $3500 to over $15,000. Shipping of boats within N America has gone from $250 for a single kayak to over $600 in some cases We continue to only charge $150 and will if possible, absorb the balance. We hoped it would be temporary and for the past year we’ve been absorbing that cost, hoping the industry would return to pre-covid rates. However, the opposite has occurred. Prices continue to increase.
In addition to shipping prices, the cost of raw goods has gone up 10-fold. Combine this with the US Dollar tanking, and our various component vendors have increased their prices to compensate. As our costs have gone up dramatically, our retail prices will have to reflect those changes. Most of the kayak companies have already increased their pricing for 2021, but we have resisted, trying desperately to honor pricing that was set in the fall of 2020. However, we can no longer absorb the increases, which are coming at us from all directions.
Beginning Monday, May 10th, we’ll be increasing our prices by about 6% across the board. We kept the increase as low as possible to compromise between our increased costs and wanting to honor the prices published. We will need to reassess this in the fall for 2022, but if the curve continues its current trajectory, we can most likely expect further increases in costs all the way down the supply chain.
All orders placed prior to May 10th will have the original pricing honored. All new orders will be subject to the new pricing. The pricing online will reflect this new increase.
Things are starting to improve, and despite these problems, 2021 is shaping up to be our best year ever. We’ve made dramatic changes to our business which will radically improve our deliveries moving forward. We’ve invested heavily in future product, tooling and manufacturing methods and we expect to ship significantly more boats than ever before.
So here’s wishing everyone a safe and happy 2021!
President, Soul Waterman