I had the pleasure of spending a week in The Bahamas from April 26-May 2, but it wasn’t all for rest and relaxation. I swear.
The tiny nation — smaller by square mileage than Massachusetts — served as the host for the annual convention and meeting for the National Association for Hose and Accessories Distribution (NAHAD), at the Atlantis Paradise mega-resort.
As MDM has done at recent industry events — including at ISA23 two weeks earlier — I conducted a handful of quick interviews while at the NAHAD event to get a pulse on the level of market optimism and to get an update on the supply chain and labor situation for member distributors and manufacturers.
And similar to what interviewees said at ISA, the tone from those at NAHAD was overwhelmingly positive. While attendees acknowledged that there are economic red flags and pockets of industrial supply that have seen demand start to slow, each told me that their company’s product orders were holding strong as of late April and backlogs remain robust.
“I’ve had a few (members) say to me, ‘We’re not going to talk ourselves into a recession,’” NAHAD Executive Vice President Molly Alton Mullins told me. “We are still seeing great customer demand, supply chain challenges easing and customers looking for new solutions and opportunities. And as long as they can deliver, they’re able to continue to escalate and grow as a company. So they’re cautiously optimistic, but they’re certainly not slowing down.”
Mullins noted how having the NAHAD event in The Bahamas was six years in the making. The association originally signed the contract for it with the Atlantis resort in 2017 for it to be held in 2020. That was wiped out — as was nearly every other in-person industry event — by COVID and pushed to the next available slot, which was three years later. Atlantis’ numerous pristine beaches, pool areas and general scenery served as a great backdrop for the some 840 registered attendees who made the trip to take advantage of the events numerous networking opportunities and absorb its educational sessions.
That included Mike Mortensen, who chairs NAHAD’s Technology committee and is the President and CEO of ARG Industrial. Making the 4,135-mile trip from ARG’s Anchorage, Alaska headquarters, he said all of his company’s key manufacturing customers regularly attend. He also dished on what ARG (recently rebranded from Alaska Rubber Group) is seeing on the demand front.
“In our markets, which are primarily the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, we’re still seeing that demand is strong,” he said. “We’re enjoying another record spring. Manufacturers are definitely starting to catch up with the pace of deliveries, and we’re seeing that improve. Talking to some of our manufacturing partners, they’re starting to see a little bit of a drop in distributor orders. I think some of that is from some of us writing pretty big inventories through the last year or so and are starting to right-size that a little bit, but demand still seems to be strong.”
Besides taking the temperature on industry demand, I also asked attendees about what they’re seeing in supply chain improvements, as well as the labor situation.
Along with Anton Mullins and Mortensen, my mini-interviews included Flexline President Jeff Scheininger (NAHAD’s 2021-2022 President), FORCE America Chief Sales Officer Jason Westad (NAHAD’s Immediate Past President) and Continental Portfolio Director Ryan Gocher.
Listen to the Podcast via the audio player above, and check out all of our past MDM Podcasts at our webpage for them here.