City rejects haul out bid award protest, Kendrick appeals
Steve Miller drives the Marine Service Center’s travel lift last week. The City and Borough of Wrangell is currently locked in an appeal process with Travelift’s supplier over an effort to buy a new haul out unit from an Italian company
Borough Manager Tim Rooney has rejected a Canadian firm’s protest over the recent acceptance of a bid for a new travel lift at the Marine Service Center.
Rooney, who also acts as the Borough’s procurement officer, informed the Vancouver-based Kendrick Equipment Company on Jan. 22 that their protest of a winning bid by the Italy-based firm of Ascom S.p.A. was rejected – and that his office would recommend entering into a contract for the new machine with the Italian company.
In their protest, Kendrick established ten separate reasons why they believed the deal with Ascom was deficient. In his response, Rooney took aim at each of the claims – beginning with Kendrick’s assertion that an opinion by PND Engineering was insufficient.
“This protest ground is rejected as PND are a generally recognized premier marine facilities engineering firm in Alaska (also involved in many marine projects in Washington) and have been involved in the CBW port project for a number of years,” Rooney states. “PND has been involved in numerous Alaska projects involving and evaluating dock facilities and vessel hoists (including Marine Travelifts) and there is no evidence to support an assertion that PND are biased toward infrastructure over operating equipment or biased toward or against any manufacturer. CBW was justified in consulting with PND and stands by its reliance on PND in determining that the Ascom machine meets the “or equal” language of the bid specifications. CBW acted in a reasonable and fair manner in consulting with PND and relying on their expertise.”
Kendrick also objected to an opinion given by Harbormaster Greg Meissner that the Italian-made Ascom lift was
sufficient for the needs of Wrangell and was soundly built – an opinion he made after taking a trip to San Diego to “test drive” a similar model.
Rooney rejected that assertion as well.
“The 100-ton Ascom machine in San Diego was first pointed out to CBW by Kendrick as demonstrating an inferior product,” Rooney states. “CBW evaluated that machine, but also extensively took the many emails and documents that Kendrick supplied to show its product as superior and Ascom’s as inferior for its own evaluation, provided some information to PND and allowed Ascom to provide comments and materials for an explanation of Kendrick’s comments. These interactions with both parties and the involvement of PND as knowledgeable engineers, as well as the experience of the CBW personnel, justified the conclusion that both machines were “equal in capability” to perform the tasks required at the Wrangell facility, leaving price as the primary differentiating feature of the two bids. CBW acted in a fair and reasonable manner in its investigations of the various machines.”
Marine Travelift products are American-made – an issue Kendrick pointed to when complaining that State of Alaska funding should not be used to buy a foreign-built haul out unit.
“There is no requirement that the Alaska Capital Grant funds be used only in purchasing products from the United States,” Rooney added. “Kendrick failed to provide any basis for this objection. CBW has an obligation to conserve the limited funding available to CBW by securing the lowest, responsible and responsive bid. CBW acted responsibly, fairly and thoroughly in evaluating the two competing bids that primarily differed in price.”
Additionally, Rooney has recommended that the Borough move quickly to secure a contract with Ascom for the new lift “promptly” in order to “allow the project to achieve the critical timeline for obtaining the machine for use during the late summer and early fall of 2013.”
Responding to the points made by Rooney, Bill Kendrick, the owner of Kendrick Equipment Company, countered on a number of issues raised and stated that special engineering would be required to meet service center standards.
“I could go on all day about how vague this specification is but I will point out based on this spec we could have easily dropped our price to suit this bid,” Kendrick wrote in an email. “Nowhere in this bid does it spell out any of your requirements, (or) ‘negative sling drop,’ the ability to lift boats during lower tide conditions, standard machines come with 5’ negative drop optional is up to 20’ and special engineering is required to meet your needs of 30.’”
Kendrick also addressed what he believes is the city’s “ethical” requirement to “buy American.”
“We are aware there is no ‘legal requirement’ for CBW to purchase American, but would remind you of a few things,” Kendrick stated. “Marine Travelift employs 170 full time employees in the state of Wisconsin and Kendrick maintains 3 employees in Washington State. This does not include the 100s of additional U.S. citizens employed by Marine Travelift’s suppliers. As U.S. unemployment remains high, for CBW to use U.S. tax dollars to purchase an unproven foreign product is in our opinion a very shortsighted and arguably unethical thing to do.”
The earliest the appeal will be taken up is at the next regular meeting of the Assembly on