P&Q Profile: RB Scott’s John Mickelson

By |  January 14, 2022


John Mickelson envisioned opening an RB Scott Co. branch location for a number of years. That vision finally became a reality in the fall, when RB Scott opened a brand-new facility in Clearwater, Minnesota. Mickelson gave P&Q an exclusive tour of the new location in November, discussing the company’s expansion, ongoing issues in the supply chain and more.

What excites you most about the new branch location?

We’ve been doing business in Minnesota for 45 years. It’s been a long time. Customers have been very loyal. We just felt it was time to build here to be closer to their business.

Any farther west felt too rural, but Clearwater kind of felt in the middle where we could reach both outstate and metro customers. 

What ultimately made you go through with the new branch?

We have talked about branches for some time. We really needed to finish out Eau Claire, [Wisconsin]. Eau Claire was mostly built out, but we needed more warehouse storage and more office space. We did all of that and finished up in 2019, and began planning Clearwater in 2020.

With the supply chain being out of whack, how has RB Scott changed the way it inventories?

We’re ordering earlier and larger quantities, just to make sure we have it. I keep telling our buyers just to err on the side of having the inventory. I’d rather be told we’re a little overstocked than we don’t have it.

Of course, you can’t anticipate everything. Not everybody does long-term planning or has been accustomed to having to do long-term planning with wear parts. You’re probably thinking three to six months further out than you used to if you’re going to stay ahead of shipping and everything else.

The new RB Scott facility is located in Clearwater, Minnesota. Photo: RB Scott

The new RB Scott facility is located in Clearwater, Minnesota. Photo: RB Scott

If you could fix one or two supply dynamics first, which would those be?

Logistics. Fixing the container problem to get the products here with lower costs. Container shipping costs have increased from $5,000 to $20,000, which is having a significant impact on inflation. 

Is this the most chaotic you’ve ever seen it when you consider inflation and the inability to get things easily?

Yes. I’d love to come in and have the wind at our back for a while. You’re just fighting constantly against the unknown. Are we going to get the product in time? Are our shelves going to run out, and how will the rising prices impact sales?  Logistics, inflation and workforce shortages have created the perfect storm. It has required us to be more resourceful and creative in how we do business. 

Have customers become more understanding as this has all played out?

There’s more awareness. If you don’t have the things they’re accustomed to getting from you, there’s still going to be some disappointment.

Looking outward, how do you feel about the future of your company? 

I feel really good about it. We’ll continue to be really selective about the people who work here. We have a great crew to build around. Trust is a big thing in this industry. We work hard to earn trust with our customers and maintain it with our vendors.

It’s a three-legged stool: the customer, vendor and dealer. It’s managing all of that to be stable and successful.

Featured photo: P&Q Staff

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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