The global supply chain has been experiencing significant disruptions and challenges, and the hot tub and spa industry is no exception. Companies like Bullfrog Spas, which have seen a surge in demand as more consumers invest in upgrading their backyard spaces, are grappling with complex and extensive supply chains that stretch across continents and oceans. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the existing issues within the supply chain, making it increasingly difficult for customers to purchase the products they desire.
Bullfrog’s CEO, Jerry Pasley, recently described the company’s predicament to the Wall Street Journal as a combination of favorable demand and unfavorable supply chain conditions. On a typical day, the company’s factory in Herriman, Utah, receives deliveries of 40,000 gallons of chemicals, 400 sheets of plastic, and up to 60,000 additional components. However, various factors have contributed to delays and bottlenecks within the supply chain, particularly at ports, resulting in the extended wait times for customers.
The production of Bullfrog’s M9 spa, one of their most intricate models, exemplifies the challenges faced throughout the supply chain. The assembly process in Utah involves approximately 1,850 parts sourced from seven countries and 14 states. These parts travel a cumulative distance of 887,776 miles to create a single hot tub, highlighting the extensive reach of the supply chain.
A Perfect Storm of Delays
One of the major obstacles Bullfrog encountered was the winter storm in Texas earlier this year, which led to the shutdown of the country’s chemical industry. This disruption severely impacted the supply of raw materials needed for the production of urethane, a crucial component. Bullfrog’s employees tirelessly worked to find alternative solutions, contacting suppliers and searching for available tanker-trucks or excess inventory of the necessary chemicals. Despite their efforts, Bullfrog had to reduce production by 75% in March and only resumed full capacity two months later.
Trucking capacity has also been a challenge during the pandemic. Many trucking companies shut down permanently in the early stages, resulting in a capacity crunch when shipping volumes rebounded. Bullfrog’s frame system, comprised of individual beams made from shaped plastic, is transported from Nampa, Idaho, to their Utah facility. The limited trucking capacity has further contributed to delays in the supply chain.
Difficulties Sourcing Materials
The sourcing of electric motors is another aspect affected by the pandemic. While Bullfrog previously relied on suppliers from Italy, long-term outsourcing trends have shifted the sourcing to China. The motors are then assembled into water pumps in Tijuana, Mexico, and transported to Utah. Container shipping and trucking challenges have disrupted this process, leading to more frequent meetings between Bullfrog and its suppliers to strategize ways to overcome the obstacles.
The exterior cabinets of the hot tub, manufactured near Shanghai, China, face delays due to port slowdowns and staff shortages in California. The cabinet pieces are transported across the Pacific on container ships to ports in Long Beach or Oakland before being trucked to Utah. The high demand, combined with shipping and warehouse challenges, has resulted in considerable logistical complications. Bullfrog even resorted to airlifting cabinet materials from China to Salt Lake City to prevent a plant shutdown.
The global semiconductor shortage has also affected Bullfrog’s production. Touch screens imported from China and Taiwan, which are crucial for temperature control, have limited inventory due to the shortage caused by canceled orders and unforeseen surges in demand. Bullfrog relies on timely deliveries to avoid disruptions in their manufacturing process.
Despite facing numerous obstacles, Bullfrog has managed to maintain a steady supply of seat backs from a supplier located 90 minutes away in Logan, Utah. The supplier has strategically increased raw material inventories to ensure uninterrupted production in case of chemical shortages.
Water-spraying jets, another essential component, are manufactured in Guangzhou, China, and then transported to a warehouse in Cleveland, Tennessee, via the Panama Canal and Eastern ports. Unlike the Suez Canal incident earlier this year, which caused significant disruptions, the operations at the Panama Canal have been relatively smoother. Similarly, the Eastern ports, which handle less trade from Asia compared to their West Coast counterparts, have experienced fewer congestion issues.
Once the hot tubs are fully assembled, they are loaded onto trucks or trains for delivery to retailer warehouses and ultimately to customers’ homes. However, even the transportation stage faces challenges. Train lines, intricately connected to port complexes, have struggled to cope with the influx of imports, resulting in overwhelmed terminals and distribution bottlenecks. This space crunch and the subsequent delays have further added to the overall delivery timeline for customers.
Living in a New Reality
Jerry Pasley, the CEO of Bullfrog Spas, acknowledges that this new reality in manufacturing has shifted consumer expectations. Customers now understand that if they want a specific product, they may have to place an order and be patient due to the complexities and uncertainties within the global supply chain.
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly disrupted the hot tub and spa supply chain, causing delays and challenges at various stages, from sourcing raw materials to transportation logistics. Companies like Bullfrog Spas have had to navigate through a complex network of suppliers across different countries, managing issues such as chemical shortages, trucking capacity constraints, port slowdowns, semiconductor shortages, and congested train terminals.
As the world continues to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, businesses throughout the supply chain are working diligently to adapt and find innovative solutions. Despite the difficulties, Bullfrog Spas remains committed to meeting customer demand and providing exceptional products. However, the current state of the supply chain serves as a reminder of the intricate ballet required to bring goods to consumers and the challenges that can arise, even in the most unforeseen circumstances.
Hot Tub Repair Man Accused Of Burglary
During a ski trip in Georgia, a group of friends encountered an unfortunate incident involving a hot tub repairman. After completing the job, the friends invited the repairman in for a beer. However, the following day, the repairman allegedly broke into their apartment and made off with personal items valued at nearly $20,000.
The tenants reported the incident to the Steamboat Springs Police Department on March 16. According to the arrest affidavit, the renters had contacted Vacasa rental regarding a broken hot tub in their rental property. Christopher Svenson, a contractor hired through Vacasa, responded to the request. One of the renters had a conversation with Svenson while he was repairing the hot tub and extended an invitation to join them for a drink.
The next day, the three renters left the premises to go skiing. Upon returning at noon, one of the renters discovered that the door was unlocked. They reported several stolen items, including a Rolex watch worth $18,000, Bose headphones worth $329, a Dell laptop worth $848, Adidas sneakers worth $160, and an $80 laptop case. Additionally, one of the renters reported the theft of an American Express credit card, while another stated that $1,200 in cash was missing from their laptop case.
The renter whose credit card was allegedly stolen received notifications of its usage in multiple locations around Steamboat, starting at 12:10 p.m. on March 16, just ten minutes after one of the renters returned to find the unlocked door.
According to the affidavit, Svenson had only been employed by the rental company for five days, as confirmed by the property manager. The property manager informed the police that Svenson had access to the garage but did not possess keys to enter the residence.
On the morning of March 16 at 9:15 a.m., Svenson reportedly expressed feeling belittled by the tenants to the property manager and promptly quit before leaving the office. However, despite quitting, Svenson was allegedly seen at the rental property by a maintenance staff member at 9:30 a.m., just 15 minutes later.
The police used vehicle registration data and video footage from stores where the stolen credit card was used to identify Svenson as the suspect. Subsequently, Svenson was arrested on Wednesday, April 26, on charges of second-degree burglary, a Class 3 felony, and theft, a Class 5 felony. His bail was set at $25,000.
Canadian Spa Brands Merge – Hydropool + Sunrise
Mississauga-based company Hydropool has made a groundbreaking announcement in the Canadian hot tub and swim spa industry by merging with Sunrise Spas. This merger brings together the leadership, intellectual property, and industry experience of both companies, totaling almost a century, to enhance the efficiency of the production process for both manufacturers.
The primary objective of the merger is to strengthen both the Hydropool and Sunrise brands. By working closely together, the companies aim to build a strong future. The merger presents an exciting opportunity for all those involved in either company.
While the two manufacturers join forces, most aspects of their operations will remain unchanged. Retailers can expect to continue receiving the same high level of service and support they have been accustomed to.
Over the next year, there will be a gradual shift in Sunrise’s production and assembly from Grimsby, Ont. to Hydropool’s location in Mississauga. This transition will be carried out at a reasonable pace to minimize any disruption for retailers.
Throughout the merger, the Sunrise brand family will be maintained, with a focus on strengthening both brands without one overshadowing the other. Dealers will maintain their existing relationships with Sunrise Spas’ customer service, sales teams, and senior leadership. Parts will continue to be supplied directly by Sunrise, and the warranty service will also be handled by Sunrise.
The merger is seen as a change that makes sense for both companies, considering the current economic climate. By operating more efficiently and expanding manufacturing capabilities, both Hydropool and Sunrise will be better positioned for the future.
Spa Retailers Seek Military Candidates for Hot Tub Donation
The Spa and Sauna Company in Reno is currently accepting nominations for their upcoming hot tub donation program, specifically targeting local veterans and service members. This initiative, in partnership with spa manufacturer Sundance Spas and charity organization Wish for Our Heroes, aims to provide a deserving recipient with a complimentary Sundance Spa. The donation is scheduled to take place this summer.
While the program is open to nominations nationally through other participating hot tub dealers, candidates eligible for the upcoming donation must reside in the Reno, Sparks, Truckee, Tahoe area. The Spa and Sauna Co., an established business since 1990, specializes in the sale of hot tubs, swim spas, saunas, and BBQs. Their showrooms are located in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Santa Cruz, and San Jose.
In addition to their collaboration with Wish for Our Heroes, The Spa and Sauna Co. actively supports various local community programs and participates in Toys for Tots. Owner Scott Clark emphasizes their gratitude and sense of responsibility to give back to the community. As passionate hot tub enthusiasts themselves, they aim to share the joy and benefits of hot tub ownership with as many families as possible.
The most recent recipient of their hot tub donation was Jason Kirmel-Long, a 100% disabled Navy veteran from Dayton, NV, who served as an electrician. Previous recipients include Trent Robbins of Sparks, a Purple Heart Marine, as well as several members of the Nevada National Guard with multiple overseas deployments.
Wish for Our Heroes is a national 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting active-duty military personnel by providing resources to make their deployments more manageable and enhance the quality of their family lives. Sundance Spas, Wish for Our Heroes, and spa dealers across the country have collectively donated nearly 100 hot tubs to veterans, positively impacting the lives of over 120 veterans and their families.
If you know a deserving veteran or service member who could benefit from this program, you can submit a nomination on the Wish for Our Heroes website. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or even yourself, take the opportunity to recognize those who have served and contribute to making a difference in their lives.
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