Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Saving green with white? Snow and Ice Crew honored Friday

Photo cutline: Standing in front of a mountain of salt, left to right, Maintenance Operations Staff Superintendent Jim Andersen, Maintenance Operations Branch Manager Monty Mills, Maintenance Operations Staff Superintendent Jay Wells and Director of Maintenance Operations Chris Christopher. More photos

It was during a hot summer (remember those) that our Snow and Ice Materials Contract Team started researching companies that sold snow and ice-fighting materials such as salt and liquid deicers. The team also considered how we could modify restrictive contract language to attract new bidders, and possibly save the state money.

This effort proved an overwhelming success. Updating the snow and ice materials contract and attracting additional bidders saved Washington close to $6 million in the first two years. As an added bonus, the contact also passed on savings to local government, Washington’s cities and counties. Using the state’s new contract, cities and counties were able to buy lower cost snow and ice-fighting materials.

And, while saving money was a great benefit, it wasn’t the only way the team “saved.” They also secured a much more reliable salt supply, making sure snow and ice-fighting materials are always available to keep drivers and the economy moving.

Monty Mills, our snow and ice lead, says it best. “We encountered a challenge during the 2007-2008 winter. Many will remember this was a very harsh winter across much of the country. Materials, especially road salt, were in short supply and the prices were very high. It made us think we could do this better.”

Over the following spring and summer, Monty and his team researched salt and deicer suppliers, vendors and shipping alternatives to see how to reduce our costs for snow and ice fighting materials, plus secure a reliable source, regardless of weather. In coordination with the state’s General Administration Contract Administration group, they were able to put forth a request for proposals that attracted many new bidders, and ended up with significant savings.
Friday (June 24), the Washington State Productivity Board recognized group with a Teamwork Incentive Program award.

And, while the team could have been eligible for an award of up to $10,000 per person, they turned down this award and received $200 each. "It was part of the job," said Chris Christopher, director of Maintenance Operations. See Saturday's story in The Olympian.

The Snow and Ice Materials Contract Team, based in Thurston County, includes Director of Maintenance Operations Chris Christopher, Maintenance Operations Branch Manager Monty Mills, Maintenance Operations Staff Superintendents Jay Wells and Jim Andersen, retired Contract Specialist Gary Smith, and Department of General Administration State Procurement Officer Robert Paulson Jr.