By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many will gather around their dining room tables next week, but what if yours is still stuck in California … or Vietnam? WCCO’s Erin Hassanzadeh went inside the HOM furniture warehouse in Coon Rapids to get a better understanding of how much power and control local companies still have.

Rod Johansen is in the business of making your home a home. But he’s also become a bit of a logistics magician, swimming upstream against the almighty supply chain at a time when many are sprucing up their homes. He’s trying to ride the surf as wave after wave come crashing down on his business.

“Logistics and communications have become almost a nightmare, you might say,” he said. “You’ve heard of the containers that have gone up four and six times their cost … and then you’ve got all the COVID shutdowns that throw another wrench into it. We’ve seen that more dramatically in our overseas markets.”

Labor scarcity, rising freight costs, and, yes, even a hurricane-induced foam shortage have all played a role in the strife.

“(One) company was already struggling to keep up with demand and then they got shut down for about another 30 days on top of it all,” he said. “You just don’t know where the disruption is going to be because it’s different almost everyday.”

Products from around the world come off trucks every day, typically 25 truckloads a day. Actually, they’re expanding their warehouse space to insulate from those supply chain breakdowns.

HOM has products from more than 20 different countries, but has temporarily stopped purchasing some products because of delays.

“Bedroom furniture is a little more difficult right now, because most of the bedroom furniture that isn’t made in the U.S. is made in Vietnam, and Vietnam was shut down for roughly two months with COVID shutdowns,” Johansen said.

If you’re thinking all of this disruption sounds pretty expensive, you’d be right.

“Freights probably added 3% to 5% to cost of the product overseas, probably 10% to 20%, depending on the product,” Johansen said. “We had to pass along some of (the cost), but we are definitely taking a bigger part of it and absorbing it at this time, just because we feel its too much to pass on.”

It’s also been tough to pass on that unpredictability about when the new sofa or dining set will arrive. It’s frustrating some customers who want to know. While HOM has added an online tracking feature, in this environment, there are no guarantees.

“As a new problem occurs, the date moves,” Johansen said. “We would normally be real upfront about availability. We’re trying to be guarded so that we’re not giving people information that might not allow them to meet an expectation.”

He thinks the worst days are behind them, but then again maybe not.

“It’s been worse, it’s been better. We just don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” he said.

So if you’re shopping, no matter what, you’ll need patience. Ask salespeople what’s in stock. HOM keeps 60% of their showroom stocked at any given time. Custom designs take extra time to get, more than usual — currently they say roughly three months.

Erin Hassanzadeh