Crafting a tiny glass hummingbird takes just minutes for Kevin McKay, a glass artist with decades of experience and owner of Bayshore Gifts & Glass.
However, getting the materials to make colored glass ornaments can take a lot longer.
“I ordered a color in December and it usually arrives within two weeks,” McKay said, “I’m still waiting.”
Taking proactive steps, like ordering materials in bulk, has kept McKay from losing business as certain glass colors have been in short supply for the past six months.
McKay orders its colored glass from the United States or overseas — as almost all colored glass is imported into Canada — which means shipping delays can lead to product shortages.
“It’s still on the boat,” McKay said of what he heard from glass suppliers. “Where is the boat? We do not know.
Shortages of certain types of glass, especially colored variants, are also impacting the residential and commercial sectors.
“You may not have the color selection you want,” said David Pike, co-owner of European Art Glass.
“It’s part of the supply shortages,” he said, adding that items needed to install the glass, like some light fixtures, are also in short supply, which can cause delays for customers.
Access to the raw materials needed to manufacture glass products is the main problem, says Martia Kania, vice president of AGM Glass Fabricators Inc., which manufactures glass products for the residential and commercial sectors.
“There are no glass factories…glass producers in Canada. There used to be, but they no longer exist,” Kania said.
“So everything we buy has to be bought in the United States,” he said, adding that continued supply chain disruptions are the main cause of the shortage of glass products.
Wait times for produce have improved, Kania says, especially as truck shipments from the border have become more regular.
But, as the price of raw materials needed to produce glass and shipping costs increase, so does the price of glass.
“We had to pass those increases on to our customers, who in turn passed them on to theirs,” he said. “I don’t see it stopping for the next two to three years.”
Automotive glass products have been less affected, Kania says, because they tend to be produced (and shipped) in bulk.
At Inland Glass Inc., a Winnipeg-based window repair service company, owner Peter Suszczynski says long delays for windshield repairs are more the exception than the rule.
“We’ve had a few delays where we’ve waited three to five weeks, which would normally be a week or two,” he said, “but that’s the longest delay we’ve had.”
A more pressing issue for Suszczynski that could cause delays for some clients is the shortage of experienced workers.
“Sometimes we like to be a little quicker with our estimates, our quotes,” he said, “But the lack of staff, it delays the whole process.”