Casters, death & taxes
This is the time of year for predictions. So-called experts gaze into their crystal balls and come with things like “20 technology trends for 2020.” Yuck! Personally, I think it’s a lot of nonsense. While it might be tempting to make predictions for the caster business, I’ve learned over the years that it’s almost impossible. In fact, the only prediction I’m certain of is death and taxes. Here’s why.
For the most part, our customers are not the end user of the casters we produce. Our distributors are selling casters to their network of customers. Our manufacturing customers order casters to be installed on equipment they are producing for their customers in retail, industrial or other sectors. In all these cases, we are multiple steps away from the buying decision that initiates the need for casters. That distance from the key decision maker makes sales predictions almost impossible.
In addition, our customers are very cautious about keeping casters in stock because it ties up money. When you combine that with the reality that casters are often an afterthought in equipment manufacturing, you can see why we are usually the last people to know that a caster order is coming. It’s not at all uncommon for us to see customers unexpectedly increase their requirements by 50% or more.
Aside from being low man on the supply chain totem pole, our business is also affected by all kinds of other impacts, many of which have been very prevalent this year. Governmental policy and decision making have had a dramatic effect on the caster business this year in the form of tariffs and trade policy. Here in Canada, we just had a federal election and 2020 is an election year in the U.S. Although we all get a vote, we can’t possibly predict decisions that a new government might make that could affect the demand for casters.
Beyond that, there are forces in the economy that are absolutely unpredictable. Labour unrest or strikes have rippling business impact. Corporate leadership changes, especially those that were unanticipated, can result in changes in buying patterns.
Despite all that there are in fact some predictions that I can make for 2020 with certainty. At Algood, we will continue to put our customers’ needs at the centre of everything we do. Using our fully integrated manufacturing facility, we will continue to partner with our customers, designing and producing casters tailored to their requirements with the highest standards of quality and performance. We will also continue to make capital investments to enhance our capability and productivity. And, as we have for the past 50 years, we will personally stand behind every single caster and wheel we produce.
Other than that, I’ll stick with death and taxes.
From all of us at Algood, we wish you and yours a happy holiday season and all the very best for the new year.