Beyond the Build

Commodities Pricing

Electrical Slowdown

While we believe the supply chain is getting better, and we are turning a corner with shortages of construction materials, several on our team have been faced a new challenge this week regarding electrical panels. It seems that electrical gear, breakers and panel boards are running a 6-8 month lead time. GFCI breakers are averaging 18 weeks out or more in many cases. This is particularly prevalent with breakers that have a higher AIC protection rating, which is unfortunately the bulk of what we use.

For projects where we already had orders in place, the electrical main gear and panels have been trickling in late and at times incomplete, missing components like breakers or the board panels themselves. This is causing us to scramble to meet deadlines and customer expectations as we have to reorder the missing pieces late in the schedule and have to face extended order times all over again.

This week, one of our projects had 50 circuit breakers missing from panels. We received no notification from the vendor upon shipment, and later found a “short shipped” note in some of the pallets. Otherwise, we had to figure out for ourselves what had been omitted. We called vendors and wholesalers across the south and Texas with the list of missing breakers trying to piece it together. Our team bought some in quantities as low as one to stay on schedule for our customer.

We’ve heard that the cause is multi-layered, including shortages of aluminum and steel and suspension of production in Europe, where energy costs are spiking due the Ukrainian war. No matter the source, these delays have certainly challenged schedules and our problem-solving capabilities.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.