THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — Digi-Key in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, employs 4,500 people, working to distribute electronic components like semiconductor chips.

According to Digi-Key's vice president of global supplier management, David Stein, those semiconductor chips make up a large part of their $3 billion business.

"It's approximately half of our revenue," Stein said.

Stein says Digi-Key provides the chips to several different industries, all of which use them in production.

"(They) could be automotive customers, they could be customers that manufacture computers, consumer home goods, medical applications, industrial applications, wireless products," Stein said.

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Many people have likely run into difficulty finding at least one of these types of products lately. Stein says we have been building up to this shortage for some time.

As technology becomes more advanced, more semiconductors are needed in everything from phones to cars and even things such as electric toothbrushes.

The coronavirus pandemic only made things harder.

"(The) majority of the manufacturers were were shut down," Stein said. "Whether they were shut down 100% or they're shut down 50%, their ability to produce product was diminished."

Now we're still playing catch-up, with some supply chains around the world still heavily impacted, or shut down.

The semiconductor shortage also doesn't seem like it will be ending in the near future.

"We're looking for excess product to be produced starting as early as 2022, but still, with the demand that's required out there, I think there's still some tough times ahead of us," Stein said.