Small Contractors Work Well

I read with interest the cover story "Power Shift; When Public Agencies Won't Take a Small Contractor's Bid," concerning a South Carolina school district and the dispute over prequalification (ENR 12/16/02 p. 32.) I was disturbed by Mr. Smith's rather broad statement concerning his prequalification of firms participating on San Diego Unified School District projects. He boasted, "We disqualified tons of two-person contractors with a pick-up truck."

We have always endeavored to be a "good contractor" in lieu of being a "big contractor." For the most part, we have been a "two-person contractor" since inception in 1993. Our satisfied clients include: The City of Dallas, The Dallas Zoo, The Fort Worth Transportation Authority, The Dallas Cowboys and the United States Postal Service. We delivered our projects on time, without dispute and within budget. We promptly paid our bills and honored our warranties. We maintained an impeccable safety record and maximized the use of M/WBE firms. In every case, awards were based upon low bids, and our clients saved significant taxpayer dollars resulting from our low overhead and efficiency.

I wonder how many "two-person contractors" Mr. Smith and others have unfairly disqualified from participation on school construction projects? Perhaps future affirmative action programs will need to contain goals for utilizing the "tons" of smaller contractors being shut out by what is apparently a discriminatory qualification process.

Metal Man Inc
Dallas, Texas

I read with considerable interest your cover story "Power Shift; When Public Agencies Won't Take a Small Contractor's Bid." The gist of the story was public entities are using the guise of prequalification to select contractors on public building projects. As a surety professional this disturbs me. Surety bonds have long been the qualifying factor in public bidding. The whole purpose of the surety process is to review and qualify the contractor for the project being considered and then putting teeth to the process by offering a guarantee of contractor performance.

Perhaps we should hold those doing the prequalification for the owners liable for contractor defaults if they are going to tell the public who can and cannot perform. Let the surety companies qualify the contractors. After all, they are the only ones willing to back up their decisions with a guarantee.

Surety Bonding Specialist
Berwanger Overmyer Associates
Columbus, Ohio


Change in Status

I enjoyed the article "landmark and Faulkner Will Unite in a New Construction Company" (ENR 12/23/02 p. 14). However, I would like to correct one error. While I am chairman emeritus of FaulknerUSA, I am not a shareholder in the new company.

Not Newsworthy

ENR has reached a low point or a slow news day with the news of legal battles between Ronald Tutor and the Sun Valley, Idaho, airport (ENR 12/23/02 p. 15). What is the engineering significance of the landing limits of Tutor's jet? Are readers really interested in airplane weights and measures? Please give us loyal readers a break and find some real engineering news.

President and CEO
Union Switch and Signal Inc.