Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Company not happy county passed it over for water line project at Berry Plastics facility

April 4, 2012


The low bidder of a water line project leading to a new Berry Plastics facility is angry that the Douglas County Commission passed over its bid.

At Wednesday night’s meeting, Dean Banks, who owns the Holton-based Banks Construction company with his father, Wayne Banks, asked the County Commission to reconsider its decision to pick the second-lowest bidder.

On the advice of the engineering firm Bartlett and West, the County Commission recommended a week ago to go with the Wathena-based firm M Con LLC, which bid $91,550. Banks Construction’s bid was nearly $7,500 lower at $84,129.

The county budgeted for the water line project to cost $130,000, and the money is part of the $431,000 incentives package the county provided Berry Plastics to build a new 675,000-square-foot warehouse on the north side of Farmers Turnpike. The warehouse is expected to provide about a dozen new jobs.

While the County Commission is paying for the project, Rural Water District No. 6 is the one overseeing the water line.

At the March 28 meeting, the commission agreed to go with M Con on the condition that the water district changed its previous decision to go with the lowest bidder and accept the second-lowest bidder. The water district held a special meeting later in the week and voted to reverse its decision and accept the second bidder.

“Our recommendation was to take the second-lowest bid,” Commissioner Jim Flory told Banks on Wednesday, but noted later that “if the district decided to stay with your bid, we would also support that.”

At the March 28 board meeting, County Administrator Craig Weinaug told the commission that the engineering firm had more “comfort” in the second-lowest bidder’s ability “to get the job done in timely fashion and done well.”

He also said the water district indicated it would have gone with the second-lowest bid if it had known it was the preference of Berry Plastics.

“We do need to make a decision,” Weinaug said that night. “The completion of the line is a critical path to completing the whole project.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Dean Banks said the engineering firm that recommended M Con over them had collected two questionable references that reflected poorly on the company. One of the references had a conflict of interest and the other reference wasn’t involved in the construction project. None of those poor references provided documentation, Banks said.

Banks said he could provide plenty of references from entities they worked for that were happy with the company.

“It’s costing us a $84,000 job right now, and we haven’t bid any other work,” Banks said.

After the meeting, Banks said he is considering suing the water district and engineering firm over the bidding process.


Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 1 month ago

Maybe you should have handed the decision makers a bigger envelope.

Curtis Lange 6 years, 1 month ago

lol, I feel like this is a story. Complaining they didnt get the job because they were the lowest bidder? This deserves a "C'mon man!"

irvan moore 6 years, 1 month ago

i think a lot of the problem is perception. most of us probably feel changing the rules after the fact to allow the "preferred" company to get the job is unfair

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 1 month ago

I recall a comment some years ago from one of the astronauts, that while sitting there on top of tons of explosive potential, they were witting on top of a vehicle built by the lowest bidder!!

John Hamm 6 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like a pretty shaky purchasing decision to me.. "None of those poor references provided documentation, Banks said."

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 1 month ago

I have been involved in a lot of these kind of situations over the years and my impression is that contracts are almost always awarded to the lowest bidder. I have observed that this is a terrible policy because it opens the door for a pattern of accepting sub-standard or low quality workmanship and/or materials.

Companies that would like to invest in better quality and better employees are hamstrung and those who have limited understanding or no understanding of the situation are under a false impression that lower costs mean "better". In most cases, over the long haul, you lose with lower quality materials and workmanship.

Ironically, a lot of the very same people who push for the lowest bid also complain when there are not enough good paying jobs in the community.

Danielle Brunin 6 years, 1 month ago

Were the companies required to fill out prequalification questionnaires? Based on the size of the job, it seems like that would be standard procedure. If they were, Banks Construction should have been excluded based on the "comfort" level of B&W at that initial step. Changing the rules after the bidding process reeks of impropriety, and at best, incompetence. Lot of perception problems here.

optimist 6 years, 1 month ago

The bidding process requires that the lowest bid from a bidder with the ability to perform the job be accepted. If the concerns about the lowest bidder’s ability to perform the job in a timely manner were reasonable then the $7,500 premium paid to the second higher bidder could ultimately be a savings. If you consider that if the lowest bidder was in fact awarded the job and failed to complete it on time then the cost of delays would have likely far exceeded the savings (you often get what you pay for). The reasons should be clearly documented and all relationships between all of the parties disclosed. Anything short of that would definitely be cause for concern and should be looked into. Sounds like a job for the LJWorld.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 1 month ago

Who says "the bidding process" requires choosing the lowest bidder????? Did you just make that up? Or did you actually see the bidder documentation for this particular project? After all, there is NO one-size-fits-all "bidding process".

And also note that "with the ability to perform the job" includes the ability to meet the required deadlines. Sounds like there was some questions about that. Plus having poor references?

RockChalk_KU 6 years, 1 month ago

My question is why would you put down references that are poor anyway?? Has he not worked more than 2 jobs? (Or however many references you need?) And he stated that he could provide more that were happy with his why didn't he put them down instead of the other 2 that were not happy with it?? Every job that you apply for 9 times outta 10 require references! And it's not about going through the bidding process to pick whoever you's going through the bidding process to pick the best company for the job for our County. Im not speaking for everyone, but as a Douglas County Resident I am thankful that a huge company like Bartlett and West checked out the references, Im sure that the bidder(s) knew before the bid, that no matter if you were the lowest bidder you would have to have your references checked before the deal was sealed anyways. That's why they request references!!!! I strongly agree with optimist, yes he may have won the bid by $7,500 but is he really worth it and the fact Bartlett and West is not comfortable with him as well?? Im sure as big as Bartlett and West is, this isn't their first rodeo. I want to Thank Bartlett and West for making sure our hard earned $$ is not just thrown away to someone who really doesn't care about the quality of work they provide our County, but to only just get the job. Now he states he is threatening to sue our water district and the engineering firm?? What?? Really??

lunacydetector 6 years, 1 month ago

there's always a stipulation, in so many words, in the proposals to bid, that states the county can give the deal to their good buddy.....the city has it too, except of course when it comes to basketball tickets/speeding tickets. a very ethical process.

somedude20 6 years, 1 month ago

You get what you pay for, kids. Flying into Turkey from the Gunston Hall, myself and the other Marines witnessed the crew chief of the bird come back and kick this box near the back exit. He kicked for a few secs then gave all of us jarheads the thumbs up. Not more than a few seconds later, we started to drop out of the sky. We were quite lucky to have the USS Saipan beneath us or we would have nailed the water and I am sure some would have died. We just had a dude who lost his front teeth from smacking off the barrel of his M16. 85% power loss is what we were told. This is just one example of when good ideals meet with cheap people; you get what you pay for

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