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West Virginia factory is center stage in supply chain crisis as U.S. economy seeks to rebound from COVID

PRICHARD, W.Va. – Whenever the Sogefi plant here runs out of resin or computer chips or cardboard boxes or wooden pallets or really anything at all, it’s Randy Simpkins’s problem. And whenever one of Sogefi’s customers howls about a late shipment, that’s Simpkins’s problem, too.

These days, Simpkins has plenty of problems.

The 42-year-old logistics manager is smack in the middle of a global supply chain crisis that reaches from factories in Europe to giant cargo ships anchored off the Atlantic coast, all the way to this rural hamlet of fewer than 300 residents.

The waves of economic disruption unleashed by the pandemic – including an unexpected shortage of workers – have made supply issues a constant preoccupation for the entire management team at this auto parts plant. But Simpkins seems to get the worst of it.

“No issue is ever solved these days, just managed,” he said. “It’s an exercise in how flexible you can be in an inflexible world.”

When Sogefi’s production managers needed springs, it was Simpkins who scoured the warehouse in a fruitless 4 a.m. search. And when a lack of parts delayed a shipment of one of the 80 products manufactured here, he quickly heard about it.“Randy is on […]

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