CIRAS Helps ALMACO Assess COVID-19 Risk from Suppliers

An ALMACO combine
harvests product.

The problems caused by COVID-19 last summer were bad enough, but what really bothered Steve Skaggs was not knowing what was coming next.

“We had been having some spotty parts shortages, which was creating some anxiety,” said Skaggs, purchasing manager for ALMACO, a manufacturer of seed research equipment in Nevada. “We just didn’t know for sure who or where the next problem was going to come from.”

So Skaggs turned to CIRAS for help in assessing ALMACO’s vulnerability to supplier problems tied to the pandemic.

CIRAS project manager Adam Boesenberg partnered with a consultant and used the CIRAS supply chain risk assessment to evaluate ALMACO’s vulnerability on a host of fronts. The assessment looks at factors such as how important each supplier is to the company, alternative sources available, supplier performance, and geography-based risks.

The resulting report helped Skaggs rank all his vulnerabilities and focus attention where the greatest number of potential problems existed. ALMACO has estimated that the work saved the company roughly $192,000 in costs tied to avoided inventory shortages and maintained $500,000 in revenue that could have been lost because of delayed or canceled orders.

“Up to that point, it had been more of a kind of gut feeling as to who might be giving us problems,” Skaggs said. “This project actually used data to get a handle on where we stood.”

Work with ALMACO was funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. With or without a pandemic-related concern, CIRAS can help companies assess the risk of suppliers or locate new suppliers to fill an essential need, Boesenberg said.

In recent months, CIRAS helped Positech Corporation, a hydraulic manipulator manufacturer in Laurens, with a similar COVID-19 risk assessment that helped the company retain roughly $70,000 in threatened sales. And last summer, CIRAS helped a Florida-based manufacturer of room-sized air purifiers find a new assembler in Iowa—a project that is expected to create at least $5 million a year in new business for Hiawatha-based World Class Industries.

“The depth of manufacturing knowledge that CIRAS possesses means we understand how different pieces fit together,” Boesenberg said. “Whether it’s finding a new source for a part or just finding the information you need to make a data-driven decision, CIRAS can help you make more sense of the puzzle.”

“CIRAS helped me understand that I do actually have several sources for a lot of the components I’m ordering,” said Ben Storms, engineering manager at Positech. “It helped us understand what our options are.”

For more information, contact Adam Boesenberg at or 515-294-5903.


A version of this article was published in the Spring 2021 edition of CIRAS News. To read more of that edition or others, please explore elsewhere on our website.