Buy Local or…Buy Honeywell!

With a number of locally owned businesses struggling in this depressed economy, the rally cry from business owners and government officials is “buy local.”  Shortly after the Mayor of Tallahassee started “buy local Saturday’s”, the City Commission adopted a local preference for city procurement with the goal of providing more business opportunities to locally owned businesses.

Tallahassee Reports has received numerous calls about the procurement procedures at City Hall. This report takes a look at the where the City is spending money on their mechanical and HVAC services for the approximately 23 City owned buildings.

On June 13, 2007 the Tallahassee City Commission “ approved the Selection committee’s ranking and recommendation of the following firms to provide industrial or commercial mechanical/HVAC services on an as-needed basis (RFQ 0040-07-ER-RC), and authorized staff to execute a three-year contract with each firm.”

The firms selected were Honeywell International, Keith Lawson Company, Johnson Controls, MED-HVAC, and Watts Mechanical. Of the five firms, three are locally owned. The locally owned firms are Keith Lawson Company, MED-HVAC, and Watts Mechanical.

Tallahassee Reports requested the expenditures for each vendor under the contract for mechanical/HVAC services. The City provided data is listed below.


Keith Lawson Company $109,257 20.9%
Johnson Controls $ 15,709 3.0%
MED-HVAC $ 43,750 8.38%
Watts Mechanical
Honeywell International $353,064 67.7%

The above table shows that Honeywell International is getting 67% or $353,064 of the City’s expenditures and Keith Lawson Company, a locally owned company is a distant second with 21% of the expenditures.

This information raises a number of issues. First, why is Honeywell International getting so much of the work? It is no secret that Honeywell is a favorite vendor of the city. They currently have five separate contracts with the city.

Second, will this situation change with the new local preference ordinance? A review of the way the contract was written indicates that the local preference ordinance may have no effect. Why? Because the contract appears to give city staff the ability to basically call any vendor that is included in the contract. It would appear that the requests for proposal would have to be wriiten in a manner to accommodate the local preference ordinance.

Also, Tallahassee Reports has been told that the Honeywell is a registered foreign corporation. A contract with the City of Tallahassee was provided to Tallahassee Reports that listed Honeywell as “foreign profit corporation.”

Tallahassee Reports did obtain Honeywell invoices that indicated payments were being mailed to an address in New Jersey.

The findings indicate that there appears to be more the Tallahassee City Commission could do to help out the local economy and locally owned businesses.




One Response to "Buy Local or…Buy Honeywell!"

  1. This is a great teaser article, with little substance beyond the informative chart you’ve given.  Steve, I hope you dig a little deeper, identify the five contracts and who negotiated them, which contractors lost out on the other contracts, and tie it together.  The “smartmeter” program must fit in here somewhere.  There are individuals involved…who are there a pattern?  There are specific city departments involved–which ones?  Honeywell has many divisions–are we talking about one division or many?  I hope someone who knows more will accept your article as a beginning and step forward with relevant information you can publish.  Right now, I see that Honeywell has an apparent competitive edge over some smaller, local contractors who may not have the personnel to pursue on-call city work.  Which city staff members are making the calls for repair work?  Could we get interviews with them published?  Perhaps the local contractors and the Honeywell Reps could give their insight into what is going on.  A little more depth before rushing to publish would not be out of place.

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