OFFICE DEPOT BEATS OUT LOCAL VENDOR …..

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OFFICE DEPOT BEATS OUT LOCAL VENDOR …..

 user 2006-07-24 at 10:38:00 am Views: 136
  • #16154

    Office Depot Beats Out Local Vendors for City Contract
    A
    multi-year, $1.65-million contract for city office supplies will go to
    Office Depot, pending approval by the City Council tonight. Beating out
    four office suppliers—including two local vendors—Office Depot has won
    a bid to provide the city with recycled paper and miscellaneous office
    products, at $550,000 a year over three years. If approved, the
    contract takes effect, retroactively, July 1. Office Depot was “the
    lowest bid, and we also require being able to order our stuff online.
    Anybody that had that we considered,” said Fran David, city director of
    finance. The next lowest bidder, Office Max, came in about $35,000
    higher than Office Depot. Corporate Express, Alko and Radstons, whose
    Berkeley store closed Saturday, also submitted bids. Alko, located on
    Shattuck Avenue, was the only company that did not offer sufficient
    online ordering, David said. The city spends an average of $537,000 a
    year on office products. The cost of paper and supplies has increased
    by 6.8 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, over the last year,
    according to a staff report. This is the first time in nine years the
    city initiated its own competitive bid process for office supplies,
    David said. Until recently, the city had to piggyback on contracts of
    other municipalities because it lacked the staff to generate
    requests-for-proposals, she said. The process affords local companies
    the opportunity to vie for the city’s patronage, the staff report says.
    In 1983, the City Council adopted a resolution that gives preference to
    local businesses for city purchases between $100 and $10,000 (now
    $25,000). Over that amount, though, “we can’t give any preference for
    local business, because it’s not legal,” David said. Office Depot
    distributed most of the city’s office supplies from 1999 to 2005. Last
    year, the city reallocated the bulk of its business to Corporate
    Express, also an international company, because Office Depot failed to
    offer recycled processed chlorine-free (PCF) paper. (Office Depot now
    offers PCF paper.)
    Office Depot, a Florida-based conglomerate that
    operates in 23 countries, generates more than $14 billion a year in
    sales. The company has a storefront in Berkeley and donates 5 percent
    of its annual city taxes to the Berkeley Unified School District, the
    staff report says. A company representative could not be reached to
    comment by press time. Local suppliers who bid on the contract have
    expressed frustration at losing out to a major corporation. “I think
    it’s stupid they don’t consider the value of keeping resources at
    home,” said Gary Shows, owner of Alko, a Berkeley business for 35
    years. “I think it’s wrong.” The city contracted with Alko about 10
    years ago but withdrew its support when Office Depot entered the scene,
    Shows said. City dollars earmarked to Alko have steadily declined over
    the years, down from about $15,000 in 2003 to $7,000 last year.
    Radstons Owner Diane Griffin told the Daily Planet last month she was
    hopeful of securing the three-year contract. Griffin had just announced
    that the company, a Berkeley institution since 1908, would lay off
    workers and close its downtown storefront in July, due to financial
    hardships. (Radstons has a distribution center and retail complex in
    Hercules.) “In my situation, I’m letting my employees go, and this
    would have salvaged two of my longtime employees,” Griffin said in a
    phone interview Friday. “If they understood the impact of buying from a
    local vendor, they would understand the impact of where the money goes
    and where the money stays.” Radstons contracts with other
    municipalities and city departments including the Metropolitan
    Transportation Commission, Oakland Housing, UC Berkeley and the city of
    Richmond, Griffin said. Radstons was equipped to supply the city of
    Berkeley with the gamut of its office needs, she said. “I’m
    disappointed, safe to say,” she said. The contract is up for approval
    on the City Council’s consent agenda tonight.