TMH attempting to balance local needs with sound decisions |

TMH attempting to balance local needs with sound decisions

Nicole Inglis

— In early June, The Memorial Hospital ran an ad in the Craig Daily Press asking for bids from businesses to supply furnishings for its new facility.

Furniture Gallery owner Rodney Klimper wanted to get involved, but he said he was stopped short of making his bid because of the project requirement.

He said the bidding process for furnishing the hospital required a breadth of products that local businesses would not be able to supply.

“Why is it being set up that locals are excluded?” he said. “They ran this ad to include us, but then they made it impossible for us to bid.”

Samantha Johnston, TMH Service Excellence Officer, said it is important to the hospital to keep as many of the contractors and as much of the labor in the community as possible.

“I think it’s important to remember that even though a certain business cannot bid a piece, we continue to put dollars back into the community,” Johnston said.

Voters passed a bond issue in 2007 to pay for the $42.6 million new hospital, located off Moffat County Road 7.

TMH officials anticipate the new facility to be finished in mid-November, ahead of schedule and on budget.

The mission

The general contractor for the construction project, Robins & Morton, of Birmingham, Ala., was encouraged to try to hire as many local workers and contract out to local companies, Johnston said.

Barry Rodgers, assistant superintendent for Robins & Morton, said the company did more than just “try” to use community resources.

“Ain’t no trying about it,” he said. “We did. Right now we have about 14 workers up here from Craig, and we had as many as 20 to 30 percent throughout the project.”

Rodgers estimated a rough total of $3 million has been spent on local workers, contractors and materials out of the Robins & Morton contract price. The project is 80 percent complete.

For example, Rodgers said the company used Northwest Ready Mix for concrete work last winter.

“Normally, in the winter they might have shut down,” he said. “But, we worked all winter with very few lost days. We kept him and his family and his men going all winter long.”

Aside from the workers, Robins & Morton spent about $40,000 on trash hauling.

Five full-time supervisors from the company have lived in Craig the past 10 months and have spent $60,000 in rent, while going out and spending money in the community for living expenses.

Rodgers said they have used local hardware stores when they could and local health care services to perform drug tests.

“This job is done real well, and we love the people in the community,” Rodgers said. “I think they’ve been great, and I always tell them we do our best to keep all the money we can in the community.”

‘Give and take’

Earl Swensson, of Nashville, Tenn., was the architecture firm responsible for the interior furnishings. The bid opening for the project, which was Tuesday, included one Craig company.

Pam Foster, of Pam Design Interiors, was able to team up with a furniture company in Grand Junction, which could help supply the entire scope of products needed.

“I could see where it could be difficult for some business to handle the amount of furniture,” Foster said. “Certainly the scope of the project. There are specific details that you’d need to be able to bid. But, I don’t think it would prevent someone from getting involved.”

Klimper said the design company also has specific brands in mind, many of which are difficult for furniture stores like the Furniture Gallery to find.

“It’s impossible, inconceivable,” he said. “The requirements are just too strict.”

Klimper said he is aware that a project the size of TMH cannot use all local contractors. But he said TMH could have split the bids up, allowing the designer to buy from different vendors and brands and try to keep some of the business local.

The hospital “talked about how good this project was for the community,” Klimper said. “But, it’s not helping to grow Craig if that $40 million is going elsewhere. They should be doing everything they can to support the community.”

Johnston said it would have been “highly unusual” to split the bid and that it wasn’t economically feasible to buy different pieces of furniture from different companies.

She also admitted local involvement was one of the challenges of bidding out such a large project.

“We have to walk this tight rope of trying to support local businesses and trying to make good business decisions,” she said. “We do the best we can, and there’s give and take on both sides.”

Rodgers said despite the millions spent outside the community, the hospital is still a large project, which requires an enormous breadth of resources.

“The building’s got to be built, and it is a hospital,” he said. “There are strict rules. You can’t hire just anyone to do hospital work. There are some materials we need that we just can’t buy here. But we try to give everybody a shot.”

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