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Landscape Views - Issue 10

This is a column by landscapers, for landscapers. In it, you’ll find knowledge, views and insights from professionals just like you, who are currently working in the industry


Q. How do you manage delays caused by material shortages?


LIVING LANDSCAPES

Interviewee: Micha Mahler (Director)

Location: Auckland Staff: 15


It’s pretty tricky. What we’ve found is the ‘best’ solution is to leave an area unfinished, carry on with the next, and then come back and complete the unfinished areas once the trees, plants or other materials arrive. But because there is such a shortage, we find we have to move on again and again, leaving several areas unfinished and spending a lot of time coming back to finish them later.

This isn’t ideal, because it’s not efficient at all and someone ends up bearing the cost; it just depends if the job is quoted or charged up. We’re pretty fortunate at the moment, because 80% of our staff are working on a massive lifestyle block, so while it’s still time-consuming, at least we don’t have to move onto a different property and job.


Material shortages often result in other, smaller jobs being pushed back, which isn’t great news for those clients, but there’s not really much else we can do. We’ve been trying to recruit more employees for ages and it’s so difficult at the moment.

The only good thing is that, because the material shortage issue is nationwide, everyone is in the same boat and clients seem to understand that there’s nothing any of us can do about it, which is unfortunate but also kind of nice.


ASPEN LANDSCAPES

Interviewee: Stuart Baines (Co-Director)

Location: Wellington Staff: 35


It’s just one of the many tricky challenges we are facing at the moment, on top of staff shortages and a wet winter. We’ve tried to keep our clients as up to speed as possible with regular communication, so at least they know where we’re at and why.

On a few occasions, if we have mostly finished a job except for an element or two that can’t be completed due to delayed materials, we will move onto the next job. It’s not the most efficient process, and we try to avoid it, but at least it keeps us all in work.


We’re also really fortunate to have a fairly large supply yard, so we can bulk purchase in advance. We also have good key accounts with several suppliers, which means they tend to look after us because of our level of spend. But that still doesn’t mean that we always get what we want

when we want.


Because of this, our whole approach to business has become much more focused on planning. We make sure to regularly review all of our upcoming jobs and let clients know what materials are available, so we can place orders well ahead of time, usually months in advance.


WEKA LANDSCAPES

Interviewee: Andrew Rae (Director)

Location: Alexandra Staff: 4 full-time, 3 part-time


To be honest, I feel really lucky that we haven’t been too affected by material shortages. We have been short on timber a few times and had to go to a different supplier, but that doesn’t seem like much compared to some stories I’ve heard.

I think it helps that most of the product we use is sourced locally and, because we have a five-acre section, we can buy in bulk and have somewhere safe to keep the material. We buy irrigation from Tauranga, but there haven’t been any issues with that.


The one hold up we’ve had is with steel edging, which we buy from a local engineer. We managed to get about 30m, and need another 150m to finish, but if it hasn’t arrived by the time we’ve finished the rest of the job, we’ll put in temporary edging so they can use the area until it arrives.


The one other product that’s a bit delayed is stone, but we were lucky to get some because the stone mason we use had stocked up, so I guess it sometimes comes down to what suppliers you use and whether they are looking ahead as well.

Basically, I think we could all be a bit better with planning, and this situation has just proven how important that is.



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