Case in point: furniture manufacturer AICO. One week prior to a trade show in Las Vegas, and more than three-quarters of the company's furniture samples remain on boats in the harbor waiting to dock and unload.
While unions and terminal operators go back and forth on contract negotiations and possible solutions to the slowdown, manufacturers are caught in the middle losing millions of dollars, because they're not able to meet their customers' demand.
Michael Amini, president and CEO of AICO, a 200-employee furniture manufacturer, relies on a captive manufacturer in China from which it serves more than 3,000 clients in about 80 countries. The company also relies on a transportation supply chain of steamship lines, trucking companies and trains to get products to market. Some 95 percent of its products come from overseas. The fine-tuned logistics process means getting shipments on time, weekly. Early shipments clog the warehouse, and late shipments make the supply chain too unpredictable.
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