Supply line issues causing months-long delays for headstones - East Idaho News
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Supply line issues causing months-long delays for headstones

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IDAHO FALLS — There is nary an industry unaffected by COVID-19-related supply chain issues.

Restaurants and grocery stores have struggled to maintain stock on meat and produce. Department stores have been short on essentials. The cost of lumber and building supplies has skyrocketed due to shortages.

The cemetery monument industry has seen its own struggles over the past year or so.

Pam Hunter, the office manager at Memorial Monuments in Idaho Falls, explained to that delivery times have ballooned.

“It used to be that special orders would (take) anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks (for delivery),” Hunter said. “Now, they’re (taking) 16 to 22 weeks.”

Thus far, Idaho’s monument businesses have been able to alleviate those delays of four-plus months due to the season. As Hunter explained, headstones and monuments are not placed during the winter months, in fact, she continued, stones that are ordered in October will likely not be placed until April or May.

Because of seasonal delays, Hunter said her company has “been able to do what we’ve needed to do” to serve its customers.

According to a report by CNN, this particular delay is caused by the industry’s dependency on granite produced in China and India, and the changes in protocols in U.S. ports. Domestic quarries and manufacturers, the story continues, have not been able to keep up with demand.

Delays have also come from the shortage of trade workers and truck drivers — again, related to the effects of COVID-19 on the American economy.

As it often goes, delays have led to a diminished supply. Couple that with a record number of American deaths, up from a single-year high of 2.86 million in 2019 to 3.38 million in 2020 according to an AP report, and the supply-demand balance has grown completely unbalanced.

With that offset supply and demand, prices have risen and will continue to rise.

This effect on an industry whose primary purpose is to serve those people grieving the loss of their loved ones.

Hunter hopes that things are at their worst, and can only improve from here.

“I think that’s going to be the worst scenario, I’m hoping,” she added. “But I don’t know — I just knock on wood every day that things work out in the way we’ve set it up to do so.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that expedited delivery could be purchased to shorten delivery times. In actuality, expedited deliveries can not be purchased for orders from Memorial Monuments in Idaho Falls.