Jeff LaPorta, the Supervisor of Purchasing with the Harford County (MD) Public Schools had a problem that was freezing out all of his attempts at a solution. The school district owns a large warehouse as part of its Food and Nutrition program; within the warehouse is a huge 60-foot x 60-foot by 25-foot high freezer. The problem was that it had no shelving or racks.
As a temporary solution, the district stored supplies on pallets, which were then stacked on top of each other. They found out quickly that this solution was not particularly efficient, and it even became hazardous, as the weight and height of the items being stored caused the stacks to start leaning.
Jeff’s department was asked to order racks, and they investigated suppliers. “We found we could buy racks anywhere, but we couldn’t find any supplier that would install them.” he explained of their quandary. The project dragged on for more than a year.
Then, Applied Industrial Technologies became a supplier partner through the U.S. Communities cooperative purchasing program. Applied is one of the largest industrial distributors in North America, with approximately 500 facilities, 4,900 employee-associates, nine strategic distribution centers, and more than 40 specialty repair and rebuild shops. As part of the process of becoming a U.S. Communities supplier, representatives from Applied provided an introductory presentation where they stressed that don’t just sell products, they provide solutions.
When Jeff heard the presentation, he realized Applied could help with his freezer rack project. “I called my U.S. Communities Program Manager, who quickly put me in touch with the correct person at Applied. The Applied representative came to visit me, and also brought the person who would be in charge of the installation. They knew the right questions to ask. After assessing our needs and taking the measurements, they promptly sent us a quote based on U.S. Communities’ contracted pricing,” explained Jeff.
“By virtue of the fact that it was a contracted price and I didn’t have to do a bid, it was a done deal. And here’s the interesting thing: I asked them to send me an itemized quote that separated the products from the installation, and it turned out the cost of the shelves – three rows, three stacks high - was actually less than the other companies we’d received quotes from! The installation cost was also very reasonable,” he added.
When future projects arise, Jeff plans to again rely on Applied Industrial Technologies. “I was perfectly satisfied – I would highly recommend them – and U.S. Communities.” added Jeff.
“There are two things that are great about using U.S. Communities. The contracts available through U.S. Communities have already been competitively bid by a lead public agency so you save a lot of time because you don’t have to do the bid.
“Secondly, Harford County could not get the same level of pricing we receive through U.S. Communities. Using U.S. Communities and having the Program Managers as a resource enables us to do other productive work. The Program Managers are top-notch, and when you reach out to them you get an immediate response and they get back to you with an answer. Without U.S. Communities, we would need to add another staff member, and in this environment, that’s not a reality,” added Jeff.