Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which is used for protection from exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19), is in short supply globally, but companies that import PPE are saying that they face challenges in getting the equipment to the countries that need it.
Leon Stoltz, CEO of Stoltz One, an international trading company based in Cape Town with offices in Atlanta, Tokyo and Zurich, says that a variety of factors are contributing to the global shortage but chief among them are middlemen looking to make a quick buck.
Stoltz says, “Middlemen are trying to insert themselves into orders and get a cut, which takes advantage of the current situation. We negotiate the best possible price with our suppliers but middlemen make competitive pricing impossible and end up pricing us out of the market.”
More than 1.3 million people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, as of 7 April 2020 and according to Time.com, severe shortages of PPE are leading healthcare workers on the front lines in the US to create their own protective medical gear using office supplies.
For Stoltz One, timing, supplier payment terms and additional quality testing are adding to the struggle to supply.
Grant Vanderwagen, Sales Director at Stoltz One says, “Middlemen cause delays by needing to go back and forth to decision-makers. Our suppliers have limited daily capacity and have had to set strict payment terms, which are 50% upon acceptance of the quote and 50% prior to issue of bill of lading, to purchase raw materials and cover the overheads needed to keep up with demand.”
Vanderwagen says that clients are also asking for samples to be shipped for testing, but there is no time for this additional step. “At the speed, our supplier is selling out daily, we have had to forego additional testing and trust the certifications provided by them. This is the best we can do to guarantee the standard of the product.”
Stoltz finished by saying, “While there are challenges, we trust our supplier to come through for our clients. We have a long-standing relationship with them but if there are client concerns, we recommend getting a surety bond for their own peace of mind. We just want to be of service.”