BrandSource Member Goes Public on Appliance Shortages

University Electric president Mike Heintz gave viewers the straight poop on appliance shortages and saw his business surge.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Mike Heintz had some mild misgivings following a local TV appearance last week in which he told it like it is on industrywide appliance shortages.

In an interview with KRON4 News, the University Electric president said customers may have to wait two months or more to get the specific appliance they want.

“I was a worried a bit when telling the world there is a shortage,” he later shared with members and AVB leadership. “Could that mean they won’t shop at my store because I can’t get product?”

As it turned out, Heintz’s head’s up had the opposite effect. The day after the interview aired and the story appeared in the local press, his Santa Clara, Calif., store “had 10 customers saying they read the article and were worried about a project they needed finished by the end of the year and were taking heed in ordering way in advance. I was shocked.”

During the interview, Heintz, a 2019 BrandSource Dealer of the Year and a TWICE Magazine Top 50 Appliance Retailer, explained that a range of COVID-related consequences have conspired to cause delivery delays, including supply chain interruptions, microchip shortages, consolidated vendor assortments, and a scarcity of workers.

Addressing the latter, Heintz recounted a conversation with a vendor who said 56,000 truckers have yet to renew their applications to drive next year. Given that it takes about 8,000 to 10,000 drivers to unload one container ship, “You’ve just taken five or six full container ships worth of labor off the market,” he told a reporter.

As a result, appliance production is off by roughly 60 percent while consumer demand is up a record 700 percent, he said, and customer inquiries have changed from “How much does it cost?” to “Can I get it?”

“It’s just like Disneyland,” Heintz told viewers. “You get in line and wait your turn and it will come. It may not be 5 minutes — you may have to wait a couple of months for the product or color you wanted — but it will more than likely get here.”

And his advice to members? “This could be a blessing for all of us in this mess,” he said of the news coverage. “It is no longer a secret, and if someone on the news says there’s a three- to six-month wait on some products and to get in line, they do!”

Heintz encouraged members to share his TV interview with customers via Facebook, as it “gives all of us cred.” The news clip is available here.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress and CE dealers.