How to Win the Bid

With a customer base made up almost entirely of municipal clients, regularly winning the formal bidding process is vital for Kandey Company.
How to Win the Bid
A Kandey Company crew prepares to launch a directional drill for a force main project in Lancaster, New York.

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Municipalities have rules to follow when hiring private contractors to take on public works projects, such as going through a formal bidding process when work reaches a certain price threshold. That accounts for about 90 percent of New York-based Kandey Company’s workload, so to remain sustainable it’s important for the company to come out on top in the bidding process as much as possible.

One method Kandey employs is purposely seeking out challenging work that will attract few bidders, increasing the company’s chance of winning the job. But along with that, there are also other ways the company keeps a steady amount of work headed its way. For example, Kandey makes sure it does a thorough job on the front end estimating the cost of a project, so it can submit an accurate bid that will get the project done properly yet cost-effectively.

“You build a job on paper,” says owner Joe Kandefer. “Every task has a cost, and you just add everything up. We make sure the estimate is done properly. That’s how you ensure you don’t make any mistakes on the job site.”

And after a job, Kandey follows up to make sure the customer was satisfied with the work and the price charged.

“It’s important to stay in touch with them,” Kandefer says. “And for the person who is in charge, we’ll buy lunch for their crew or something. Just little things like that to keep our name on their tongues.”

Building that relationship and developing a track record of successful jobs can help because some municipal work is not a onetime project. For example, Kandey holds several service contracts with the Erie County Water Authority. One is a two-year contract that has to go through the bidding process every time it expires, but Kandey has been able to lock it down for more than 20 years now.

And not all municipal work has to be put out to bid. If it’s under a specific price, a municipality can avoid a formal bidding process and give the work to any contractor. Kandefer says his company has many customers who will regularly call on Kandey for small projects, particularly hydroexcavation and sewer inspection or cleaning jobs — an area the company has been trying to grow in recent years.

“That’s the most recent large investment we’ve made into a service,” Kandefer says. “Even a lot of that is put out to bid, but we are also starting to get a lot of repeat customers who will call us in for small projects — as long as it’s under a certain dollar amount, they can give us the work without going to bid. So we are gradually building that relationship up with different municipalities.”

Check out these additional articles about Kandey Company that have appeared in Cleaner magazine: "Positioned for the Future," "New York Contractor Seeks Out a Challenge," and "Experienced Employees Make the Difference for New York Contractor."


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