Doug Robinson Owner, Virginia Leisure Chesapeake, Virginia
Prices are going up quickly. I sell four manufacturers’ hot tubs, and two of the four have had significant [freight] price increases. That makes it even more imperative that when we buy spas, we buy them by the truckload. If we buy them half truck and send them LTL (less than truckload), freight charges are through the roof.
I used to get a 53-foot trailer of anything from Virginia Beach to Orlando and it was $700. Now if I want to ship one spa from California, it’s $700.
I think everybody in the industry knows some of the freight is subsidized in the price of the hot tub so [the manufacturer] can offer a flat rate everywhere. Some [manufacturers] have tried to keep it down. They’re all gearing towards big truckloads — the most efficient way of buying.
Rita Rowlen President, Ultra Modern Pool & Patio Wichita, Kansas (two locations)
We have experienced limited delays because of truck driver shortages. Keep in mind, we are in the middle of the country, which in many ways makes trucking easier. In season, our chemical trucks have taken a day or two longer.
Our major spa, chemical and furniture vendors have done an excellent job managing this situation. I do think it will be more challenging in the coming years for several reasons, one being current truck drivers ready to enter the retirement stage of life. Another is the new regulations of tracked time a driver is allowed to drive, which decreases his pay and fewer applicants wanting to enter this career field. Until we have more driverless trucks, we may suffer more delays.