Office (furniture) politics at Garfield County?

John ColsonPost Independent staffGlenwood Springs, CO

CARBONDALE – Two office-furniture dealers squared off before Garfield County officials on Monday, fighting over a contract worth roughly a quarter of a million dollars to the winner.And the winner was … the same company that had won earlier this month, Sandy’s Office Supplies of Aspen and Glenwood Springs.Sandy’s came in with the highest bid but also with the highest level of confidence among the staff of the county’s procurement department.The losing firm, Office Furniture and Design [OF&D] out of Delta and Mesa counties, was not happy about the result.”I think this shows the lack of competitive spirit in the Garfield County procurement system, not just with the furniture but with other things, as well.” said Dave Huerkamp, vice president of sales and marketing for OF&D, afterward.He said he would consider whether he should pursue the matter further.Huerkamp, speaking to the board of county commissioners on Monday in Carbondale, noted that his firm’s bid was $32,000 lower than Sandy’s – $238,676 versus $271,178, respectively – for a contract to furnish a new Human Services Annex building in Rifle.Conceding that the county already has some furniture from Sandy’s in storage, Huerkamp maintained that his company could match the Sandy’s gear with no trouble.”The reality is … our furniture is just as modular as the competitor’s,” he told the BOCC.In response to a question from Commissioner Trsi Houpt, county staffer Matt Anderson noted that OF&D was “marked down” in the procurement department’s analysis of the bids for the contract, due to trouble with installers on a previous installation contract with Garfield County.”We’re not always going to be perfect,” rejoined Huerkamp, but he pledged that the company would do better if it were awarded this contract.Mike Husaluk, of Sandy’s, responded that his company’s analysis of the county’s stockpile of stored furniture would save $12,000 off the quoted price, and argued that the brand name of furniture that Sandy’s would install, Teknion, is of a higher quality than the brand that OF&D would install, Artopex.After a brief huddle behind closed doors with the county attorney’s office, Houpt stated, “I have not been convinced that we made the wrong decision,” and moved to reaffirm the award to Sandy’s.The motion passed two to one, with Commissioner Mike Samson dissenting after declaring, “I’m real uncomfortable with some things” about the dispute. Samson suggested the county simply start the bidding process over to see who would come back with the best deal.Commissioner John Martin, agreeing with Houpt, said the decision was based on “loyalty, product, past performance and acceptance by our employees.”

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