EL CENTRO – As the county took up a procurement measure on their agenda that would have awarded a copier lease contract for $1.2 million dollars to Canon Solutions America, Charles Fruth stood up to protest.
His complaint is a familiar one to local venders, no points for being a local business with a brick and mortar store in the Valley when trying to win awards with the county and the Imperial Irrigation District.
Fruth’s business, Digital The Fruth Group, lost to Canon solutions America by one point in the bidding point system, 576 to 575. There was no points allowed for being a local business, and they had bid lower by $250,000.
The IID, after heated complaints, decided to change their procurement bid process by allowing points for local businesses. One of the major stumbling blocks is identifying local businesses and deciding what does constitute a local business versus an out of town business with a local representative.
Councilmen Ryan Kelley, District 4, brought the issue up for favoring local businesses in the procurement process. County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova said the board had broached the issue several years ago and at that time decided against rewarding locals with points.
Chairman Ray Castillo, District 5, advocated forming an ad hoc committee to re-visit local preferences in bids. Ryan Kelley and Jack Terrazas were appointed to the committee.
The award was not given to Canon Solutions America. In the end, the county supervisors decided to table the matter for one week to study the differences in the bid, look into why the Social Services department selection committee had rewarded the Fruth Group with 2 points for references while giving Canon 10 points.
Fruth said when speaking to the board that they had given more references than Canon in their bid, and only two of their six references were called, both giving excellent recommendations.
“There is a bias in this bid process,” Fruth told the board.