Liz Ball, who has been with Oregon since 2021 and working in customer engagement, is rather curious how the supply chain issues of the 2020s have affected Oregon. So, being the curious person she is, she sat down with Judd to ask some questions.

Q: In what way(s) have the supply chain issues impacted OPC?

A: Paper recently has been a lot harder to get, especially the commodity stuff. It’s not an emergency yet, but we want to be looking down the road and keep up inventory levels. I think it might be this way for a while. The paper companies have everybody on allocations, so we have to plan ahead. I also think we are lucky, because a lot of what we do is smaller customized jobs, not the big, long runs that eat a lot of paper. We also need to keep a good eye on all of our inks and toners, we don’t want to be caught short there. That’s how we’re being proactive for our customers, even the ones we don’t have yet.

Q: How do you overcome supply, source, and resource shortages?

A: Well, it’s here and it’s real. So you have to look at it as an opportunity to think creatively, which in the end makes you more efficient. We know we have a great team working behind us so, while we’re facing this challenge and this reality, we’re not too worried about being able to fulfill our clients’ needs.

Q: What creative outcomes have been a result of your solution-seeking?

A: That’s a good question, and there are a lot of answers. In some cases we’ve developed new partnerships and found new products. In another case, Glenda(our operations manager) secured 21 large rolls of paper and had them sheeted to make 300,000 sheets, which satisfied a big variable-data job of 200,000+ sheets through the month of March. That was pretty creative.

Q: Are there any tips you would like to share with others who might be facing these same challenges?

A: Don’t get mad at anybody through this; you’re going to need all of those friends and connections before we’re done.

Q: With all the best practices and hindsight Oregon Printing has after being in business these past 40 years, is there anything you would advise against doing?

A: It might be a while before we go back to total just in time delivery.

Q: What has been an unexpected yet positive outcome or result of the challenges that have come with the pandemic?

A: I think something that has worked in our favor is that our business model has been evolving so that our runs are shorter, more elaborate, and designed for a bigger impact, but we’re sending out quite a bit fewer because we now have better intelligence on who we should mailing to and target. In turn, we don’t need the big inventories of paper we used to.

So, yes, this whole supply chain disruption has been challenging, but it’s also out of our control.