Much like the sweetheart deal built into Johnson Control's Red Plan contract that lets it choose its own products to be purchased by the District a roofing supplier the Garland Company has been accorded a similar privilege. Specifications drawn into the bidding process for roofs guarantee that Garland's pedestrian but exorbitant roofing products will have to be put on the roof of Lowell School. They will cost District taxpayers 30% more than comparable roofing products.
After Mr. Jensen complained about this both JCI and Garland visited all the local roofing contractors together to explain that under no circumstances were they working together. There was absolutely no collusion. We can't help but wonder whether they smoke cigarettes after consummating business deals.
Mr. Jensen drove up from the Twin Cities last night and for his trouble got three minutes to explain that the District was getting less for more. After that he got to listen to the District project managers tell the school board that he had put a substandard roof on the Stowe School. They left out a lot of history when they explained this to the school board. They weren't limited to three minutes.
Garland won't bother tearing off old insulation to make sure there are problems lying underneath. That costs money and by keeping potentially faulty insulation on a roof you can call your work "green" because it leads to less refuse in landfills. Of course for Garland this makes its deals green in other ways as well.
Here's an email Mr. Jensen sent to the District prior to his three minute appearance at this week's school board meeting:
February 13, 2009
To: ISD 709 School Board Members
RE: Reroof of Lowell Elementary School
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am writing to make you aware of the current roofing and bid practices being conducted by Johnson Controls and the Garland Company and to alert you to the fact that, in these tough economic times, through no fault of your own, I believe that you are about to substantially over pay for the reroofing of Lowell Elementary School.
The specification created by your consultant has effectively blocked out all competing manufacturers, and many of your local roofing contractors, from bidding on these projects. As far as I am aware, this manufacturer/ consultant has never to my knowledge approved a competing product as an equal. The result is that this has created a proprietary bid situation, which means that the named manufacturer may charge the approved bidding contractors an exorbitant increase on the cost of their products.
GAF is North America’s largest roofing manufacturer and produces products that mirror that of your chosen manufacturer (Garland) at about a 30 % lower cost. We offer a variety of roofing system assemblies that can carry warranties of up to 35 years in every major roofing technology. Our warranties cover the entire assembly from the deck up and from edge to edge. Moreover, GAF’s products have been used in your school district for years. For example, in 2008, working closely with your architect, Stanius Johnson, and a local contractor (AW Kuettle), GAF provided the roofing system at Stowe Elementary that met both the long term needs of the district that fit into the budget constraints of the project.
You may be interested in the attached comparison of bid results from Litchfield Schools. I also have documented information that I can provide to you that clearly shows how other school districts and private entities across the country that have paid more for the goods and services of this manufacturer, and others like them. For example, a project at Chanhassen Schools, Chaska Minnesota, was bid in the summer of 2007. A GAF contractor submitted a voluntary alternate for a 30-year GAF built up roof system. The price for the GAF system was more than $500,000 less than the lowest Garland bid. Garland chose to walk away from this million dollar project, after the GAF bid was rejected (perhaps they were afraid of publicity?). After a re-bid with multiple manufacturers, the job was awarded to the Johns Manville Company and the district saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.
True competitive bidding, open to multiple manufacturers and multiple roofers, is the best way to ensure that you are receiving a quality job at a fair price. It is up to you to ask the hard questions. I encourage you to review the attached information and make your own determination as to what is the better deal for your district, your schools, and most of all your tax payers.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about GAF or its products.
Very truly yours,
John W. Jensen CDT
Low Slope Territory Manager