July 3, 2009

Lowest Responsible Bidder – Best Option?

by Kevin Morris

You commonly see verbiage in public bid notices or specifications that states, “The owner reserves the right to award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder.” What exactly does this mean to you as the owner?

A responsible bidder in the world of high performance coatings is very different from a contractor capable of applying paint to an architectural structure. Somehow the industry lacks the ability to successfully determine the difference between high performance coating applications and painting projects.

High performance coatings projects require a higher degree of knowledge to ensure a successful project. Contractors should retain personnel that have the ability to properly prepare the substrate, mix the specified coatings, and employ the correct application equipment.  The applicator should also be able to provide the proper equipment needed to complete a project in good operating condition.

Bidding a unique coatings application in the public domain, without pre-qualifying the bidders, leaves an owner in the position to get what he has paid for (Low Bidder). All too often contractors will bid on these projects, claim that they have a dollar figure that they are comfortable with, and provide the necessary insurance, bonding, etc. In the end the owner has paid for a service that in most cases is questionable.

How do you improve on the end result of protecting your assets? Some of the industry qualifications do nothing more than audit reports and financial statements with no surprise inspections in the field to qualify their everyday practices. It may be time to be smarter with the money that is being spent to make your asset protection practices provide a longer life cycle. Consider adopting a qualified bidders list, check all references provided, and request in the bid package that the bidder provide at least two references for projects that have presented issues (failures).

These are just a few ways to help raise the level of service and protection that you are receiving in the high performance coatings arena. An unknown author, to this blogger, once said, “a company can be measured by the company that they keep”. Maybe it is time to visit past projects of the contractor that you plan to hire to protect your water and wastewater assets.

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