Speaking Up at City Council Garners Local Businesses Greater Opportunity

Published : Monday, August 28, 2017 | 5:51 AM

The City of Pasadena has decided to decentralize the procurement of office supplies for its various departments and offices, opening up an opportunity for more local enterprises to do business with the City, after a local businessman stood up during a City Council meeting to stand up for local businesses being given more consideration.

City Manager Steve Mermell in a statement last week said “the purchase of office supplies is being decentralized which will increase the number of opportunities a Pasadena business will have to compete for this solicitations.”

Mermell indicated the decision was the result of discussions at the City Council meeting Monday, August 21, where the owner of a local office supplies business spoke about the City’s office supplies purchases.

At the meeting, Karl Percell II, owner of Pasadena-based SupplyMates, asked the City Council to reconsider a recommendation to extend the City’s office supplies contract with Office Depot Inc., a Florida-based office supplies retailer, by another year, through June 30, 2018.

Office Depot Inc. has been doing business with the City since August 2015 providing citywide office-related supplies at $375,000 during the first year, increasing to $750,000 from 2016 to 2017.

On Monday, a recommendation was included in the City Council’s consent calendar to approve another one-year extension increasing the amount of the contract to $1.24 million.

That was when SupplyMates owner Percell stood up and asked that his business be considered. Percell said his company could match the volume and price of the Office Depot contract.

Another local business owner also posed the same question.

In response to the comments, the City Council decided to table the original motion and agreed, as Mayor Terry Tornek put it, “to investigate the opportunity for the city to buy local.”

From City Councilmember Victor Gordo’s recommendation, the council also voted to give Office Depot only a 60-day extension on the three-year contract.

In his announcement Thursday, Mermell said the City is now looking into the advantages and disadvantages of a decentralized approach for office supplies procurement versus a centralized approach, as is the case in the Office Depot Inc. contract.

“Staff will evaluate the development of a prequalification process to streamline the process and all businesses will be encouraged to participate in future solicitations through Planet Bids,” Mermell said.

Mermell added that City purchasing staff had issued a Request for Information (RFI) and met with a number of vendors, including two Pasadena-based vendors that have expressed an interest in doing business with the City.

“According to Matt Hawkesworth, Director of Finance, these meetings and the analysis of the RFI submittals revealed that office supply products have become more standardized in the past 10 years,” Mermell said. “As such, many of the advantages of a centralized approach that were anticipated at the beginning of this undertaking do not actually exist across many of the office supply vendors.”

Mermell indicated that with a decentralized approach to procuring office supplies, each City department may have different requirements and ordering preferences that may be more easily fulfilled than with a centralized approach.

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