Strong demand, supply chain problems impacting generator manufacturers

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Crisafulli Brothers and Ambrose Electric have been installing generators like clockwork, but the increasing demand is a trend that’s being seen nationwide.

"It’s a combination of factors. When COVID-19 hit, people were living and working from home. Power became a little more essential," said Michael Stein, vice president of Ambrose Electric. "Record hurricane seasons the last two years in the south. California is shutting off power to prevent forest fires."

As one neighbor gets a generator, others tend to follow suit.

The increased demand and shortage of raw materials like copper, aluminum, and computer chips have overwhelmed generator manufacturers like Generac, which supplies both companies.

"They’ve tripled capacity, but it hasn’t even come close to keeping up with demand," Stein explained.

For smaller businesses who order per customer, the wait time is long, about nine months. Ambrose Electric and Crisafulli Brothers say they anticipated the demand and planned ahead to ensure they had the right supply.

Buying a season ahead though, comes with its own set of challenges.

"There’s not enough warehouse space available," said Alan Ayres, vice president of Crisafulli Brothers. "Buying the generators and sitting on that large volume of cash out, waiting for it to get installed or customers to buy it is a change in our industry."

A lack of trade workers adds another variable to the equation.

While neither company says it is worried about running out of generators in the near future, they’re dealing with scheduling hurdles and long installation lists. They’re asking customers to be patient.

"A couple of years ago, you call us around October, you would have a generator by the end of the year. You call us now, you are looking at late-winter, early spring," Stein said.