Archive for Friday, May 3, 2013

Contractors say county getting overcharged for roof work

May 3, 2013


Douglas County taxpayers will spend nearly $610,000 this year to completely replace the roof at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. But some area contractors say it could have been done for much less.

Mark Gwaltney, owner of Diamond Everley Roofing Contractors in Lawrence, said during the bid process that his company could have provided a similar roof with a comparable 30-year warranty for only $472,000, or about 23 percent less. But that proposal was not considered because of the unique selection process the county used for the roof project.

“It results in significantly higher prices for the owner,” Gwaltney said.

In March, Douglas County commissioners agreed not to seek competitive bids on the roof project, and instead to hire Garland Co. of Cleveland, Ohio, through a master contract available to local agencies through a government purchasing cooperative called U.S. Communities.

That cooperative is used by thousands of state and local governments in the United States, including the city of Lawrence and the Lawrence school district, for many types of contracts, including computers, office supplies, furniture and a wide range of other items.

Under its master roofing contract, Garland designs and manages the project, and it selects subcontractors to do the actual installation. But those subcontractors must agree to use Garland name-brand products for the vast majority of the materials, products that Garland officials themselves concede are more expensive than most other products on the market.

“There is a difference in the up-front installed cost,” said Frank Percaciante, contract manager for Garland. “That difference is usually made up for, and then exceeded by an additional 40 to 60 percent, because our roofs will last on average 10 to 12 years longer.”

Percaciante said Garland products are more expensive because they are manufactured to higher standards, and because built into the price is the cost of a 30-year warranty that includes complete maintenance and repair of the roof over that time, at no additional cost.

But Gwaltney disputed that argument, saying that other products on the market that meet the same specifications and come with the same 30-year warranty.

County officials said in March that they preferred using the U.S. Communities master contract, in part because roofing projects are complex, and also because evaluating competitive bids between rival manufacturers would require more expertise than the county has.

To hire an independent roofing consultant to set specifications, they said, would have been a major additional expense.

Gwaltney's company was not selected to install the roof because his bid, using Garland name-brand materials, came out to $706,137, according to the county's summary of bids. Gwaltney said he could have underbid Garland using other, comparable products.

The low bid of $609,970 came from Delta Innovative Solutions, a roofing company based in Kansas City, Kan.

County administrator Craig Weinaug said he was satisfied with the contract as well as the price, adding that the county has worked with Garland on roofing projects in the past and has had good experience with the company.


John Kyle 4 years, 11 months ago

"County officials said in March that they preferred using the U.S. Communities master contract, in part because roofing projects are complex, and also because evaluating competitive bids between rival manufacturers would require more expertise than the county has."

Oh please! The county deals with contract bids all the time. They went the easy way, didn't buy locally and now got caught paying higher prices to an outside firm. If the county doesn't have the expertise to select a roofing contract, what can they do?

cabmando 4 years, 11 months ago

and we wonder why our local economy is suffering, easy to see when our own city officials won't promote work done locally

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 11 months ago

If the county called Gwaltney tomorrow and said they would accept his bid of $472K, would he be pleased?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

It could have been worse. During the dot com boom in San Francisco, they decided to cover the dome of city hall with actual gold. Tourists and the homeless alike were treated to a wonderful sight. Prior to completion, the dot com bubble burst, but no worries, in a town where a fiscal conservative couldn't get elected dog catcher, the project was completed by raising taxes. Soon they will complete the Bay Bridge, in construction for a quarter of a century, coming in at 31 times the original cost estimates. The inefficiencies here are actually chump change when compared to other places.

Larrytown 4 years, 11 months ago

So Gwaltney's bid (based on Garland products) came in at $706,137. Garland's bid (based on Garland products) came in at $610,000.

Gwaltney's could have bid $472,000 for comparable products (i.e. specifications/warranty). Garland mentions that their product is higher because the roof lasts 10-12 years longer than an average roof.

I fail to see why Gwaltney's is bringing this up....appears that the County received a fair bid for a product that (on average) will last longer. Appears to be an easy deal for the County to make.

With that being said, I'm always in favor of local companies winning contracts.

kansasmike 4 years, 11 months ago

This is simple. Just google: garland roofing scam and follow the testimony, news articles and TV spots on how slick salesmen worm their way into public contracts. Like P.t Banum said, there is a sucker born every minute. Of course Gwaltney is correct and brave to create this issue. There was zero competition in roof materials because Garland wrote the specs and of course they will say their products are far superior. Plus, there was no bid opening for contractor labor because as I understand it, those bids were faxed to Garland's home office in Ohio and not read aloud. There were five bids on this project, four non-union and one all union company and we are to beleive that the union company was low by almost $100,000. Please ! This entire project stinks. Gwaltney should be applauded for his honesty and the project should be re-bid but without all the stench and questionable methods. Open spec, open bid, same 30 year warranty. Let Garland bid it again, just this time let there be some competition and have a public opening. This aint office supplies were buying here!

noleftfoot 4 years, 11 months ago

So how does a company like Garland last over 100 years when stuff like this is posted? BTW, how do you know everything you posted? You must work for the Gwaltney guy

brutus 4 years, 11 months ago

One of the things Garland does is provide a representative to watch the installation of the roof and make the contractor do the work correctly. Many contractors do not like this.

Anthony Mall 4 years, 11 months ago

Amazing... Roofing experts, war experts, political experts, and parenting experts can all be found right here at! Wait, how are the same people experts on everything? Just saying.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

p> recruits the best and the brightest. My agent just negotiated a 3 year contract with an option for a 4th., at just over 600K/yr.

Wayne Propst 4 years, 11 months ago

when was the existing roof installed? 30 yrs ago?

kanzan 4 years, 11 months ago

I have no dog in this fight, but I know construction. First, this type of procurement system is a well established method of getting known value at a reasonable price without the inherent problems of lowest bidder contracting. As in any industry, some manufacturers make a superior product and provide superior support at a higher price. You get what you pay for - allow low-ballers to bid quality and you end up with junk. The fact that some roofer says he provides an equal warranty is baloney. It is well known that roofing warranties - all of them - are self serving and aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Most savy owners refuse to accept them; they write their own special warranties that mean something. Even the National Roofing Contractor's Association advises against using warranties as a basis for comparison or roofing selection. Sounds like the county has a good product they want and they're getting it. This is sour grapes from a local who bid the product and lost and now want's to whine about substituting his cheap stuff.

gccs14r 4 years, 11 months ago

I drove by there today and it smells like they're mopping on hot tar. I hope that's not the case, because that is an antiquated roofing system.

WilburM 4 years, 11 months ago

Here's the website mentioned above re Garland. It's complex, and the author is on a crusade, to be sure. That said, there is certainly enough to make one wonder:

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Should bids be restricted to locals no matter the expense?

In order to keep locals reined in the government should seek outside bids from just about anywhere and posted somewhere in very public view 24/7 for a period of time.

RIGHTIZRIGHT 4 years, 11 months ago

Right is Right… Let me get this straight – a superior product is better than an inferior product. Superior products have superior performance and longevity and may require less maintenance. I get superior service when I buy a superior solution. Eliminating administrative overhead and by leveraging buying power one can reduce unnecessary costs. You get what you pay for. This is all pretty easy to understand. Oh yeah…don’t forget if you bid $130,000 high on your labor for a roofing job you end up not getting the job (no matter where you live). I guess all of this is an exercise in obvious – oh and if you don’t get the contract you complain and call foul. I guess that is the AMERICAN way. By the local contractors thinking, our government should make their selection strictly on cost and “perceived” equivalency. I assume our local contractor would use the same thinking when buying protective armor for our military, safety equipment for police and fire personnel, and water treatment equipment for our community’s water. Hey, according to our local contractor, everything is apparently equal (well except for his labor which is clearly more expensive for some reason). Warranties do not equal performance. The proof is in the actual performance. The county has established that they prefer performance and service over a short term savings (let’s spend wisely today so we don’t have to spend tomorrow). Well local contractor, I assume you are comfortable working with disposable items as long as you can maximize your labor income – oh and I guess that when your less expensive product fails and it’s time to put the next roof on 12 years from now – I’m sure you’ll be in line to bid your high priced labor again and whining about why you didn’t get the job…or you may want to sharpen your pencil this time.

GCManKan 4 years, 11 months ago

Well said R-iz-R, It amazes me how limited peoples thinking can be. You get what you pay for is right on target. The pressure on GC’s (and I know this first hand) by subs (like roofing contractors) to substitute alternative (inferior) materials is massive. Roofing contractors are notorious for trying to sub in this and sub in that with the hope of maximizing their own profits; the only thing greater than their individual greed is possibly their collective stupidity. Of course they think that the inferior products they recommend are equivalent – as far as they are concerned they are both black (or white) and both somehow get attached to the roof (plus they get a legal document known as a warranty that is full of “outs” and “exclusions”). That’s where their knowledge ends. Roof Cons typically issue a 2 year warranty and run…the customer is left with their poor workmanship and inferior product selection. And where do the roof cons run – it seems like they run to their PC’s; where they create poorly and inaccurately constructed blog sites; where they villain-ize high performance and high quality manufacturers and make wild claims of deceit and corruption.
Thank you R-iz-R and thank you to Douglas County for making a value decision versus a short term mistake.

Maytime 4 years, 11 months ago

GCManKan you have no idea what you are talking about.

garco 4 years, 11 months ago

We've been following this dialogue with interest and have noticed one crucial element missing from the conversation. In all this talk about the locality of providers, the length of warranties, and the cost of materials - the one thing overlooked is our proven track record of performance.

Not only has the Garland Company been faithfully servicing public institutions for the past 118 years, but locally based Garland technical representative Greg Leslie has been working for your local communities for almost 25 years.

How does a company create a track record of consistent performance that spans decades? Quality project management is critical to ensure long-term value. Mr. Leslie continues to work with many Kansas customers based on his ability to solve problems related to their building exteriors. In addition to his formal education and two decades of experience, Greg has recently dedicated over 100 hours of his time to continuing education, completing several courses with The Building Science Institute. He personally provides comprehensive evaluation/design services, pre- and post-construction management, preventive maintenance programs, and on-the-job inspections. The vast majority of contractors appreciate that watchful eye, as do 100% of his customers.

Anyone involved in this industry understands that roofing is as much art as science. When all is said and done, it is Greg Leslie - his competency and his integrity - that our Kansas customers are choosing, when they choose Garland. We'd like to thank him for his outstanding track record.

We invite the Kansas community to learn more about our company and our high-performance roofing solutions at

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