IKEA, I’m impressed.

My initial impression of IKEA was formed years ago, while furnishing my first apartment. Their products were simple. Functional. Inexpensive. During university, an IKEA desk cost less than one improvised from six empty beer cases and a piece of plywood. It smelled better too.

Simplicity was key. You got a flat-packed piece of furniture and used an Allen key to put it together. Assembly instructions came on a piece of paper you didn’t even have to look at.

Not any more.

In the past four months I’ve assembled five large IKEA pieces. File cabinet. Heavy-duty storage shelf (10 year guarantee!). A desk. TV stand. And a bookshelf/cabinet. The most complex (file cabinet) came with a 56 page assembly manual.

All together, more than a quarter of a ton of Swedish ingenuity.

They are performing admirably. But the real genius is in the supply chain management and packaging. The five large pieces I assembled were comprised of thousands of parts: wood, fibreboard, steel, plastic, specialty pieces of hardware, tools, and fasteners.

Not one part was missing. 

Not a single washer, cam lock, dowel, barrel nut, shelf pin, or cabinet hinge.

Yes, I did get a cardboard cut while unpacking. No, I’m not suing the company.

How easy would it be for one hung-over Thorvald or Freja to make a mistake and forget to pack something? 

The company has 1800 suppliers in 50 countries, and 9500 products in each store. It’s the third-largest consumer of wood in the world. It owns its own forests!

Since the pandemic, supply chain disruption has been the go-to excuse of every retailer. (Just this morning, our weekly meal service substituted a red bell pepper for a can of corn, citing supply chain disruption.) 

But based on my experiences over the past few months, IKEA, you’re crushing it. 

So beröm to you. (The internet tells me that’s Swedish for “kudos.” Apologies if it actually means hemorrhoids.) 

One minor complaint: Phillips head screws? Seriously? 

Why not Robertsons? Invented by Canadian Pete Robertson, they offer far greater torque and are less likely to be stripped. And the company is still in business today. 

Keep up the good work.

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