The Kent State Procurement office Supplier Diversity recently held a Matchmaker Event to assist the Office of The University Architect in identifying construction management and construction companies with capabilities to perform work on upcoming bond and local projects. These are part of the University's initiative to upgrade facilities for its "Foundations of Excellence Program". These projects are valued at more than $170,000,000.
After the event, proposals were solicited for several projects including the renovation plans for the School of Art. The Cleveland-based Ozanne Construction Company, Inc., was awarded the Construction Management at Risk contract.
Ozanne "is a multi-disciplinary construction management company doing business throughout the Midwestern and Southern United States" and are committed to environmental, economic and social sustainability in the industry.
"They are a minority owned company and it is the largest award we've ever made with a diverse company," said Veronica Cook-Euell, Supplier Diversity program manager. "This is a significant move forward in [Kent State's] quest to be inclusive with minority and women owned companies."
Beth Ruffing, assistant director for capital design and construction in the Office of the University Architect, said that supplier diversity is important to the university and its community.
"Taxpayers include everyone and sometimes because of relationships that have existed over the years, not everyone gets their shots at the projects," said Ruffing. "We are trying to provide a level playing field and allow everyone to show what they can do for us."
Dr. Alfreda Brown, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, also believes that supplier diversity is important for Kent State and its community.
"By having supplier diversity, we are able to not only develop a standard for future projects at Kent, but also improve upon and grow in our relationships with the community and our partners for these future projects," said Brown.
Ruffing said the university benefits greatly by giving projects to different firms.
"This provides a perspective to evaluate the people we work with," said Ruffing. "If you don't diversify, you don't know who is out there to bring something new, interesting and higher quality to the table. Diversification is good for everybody."
Tom Euclide, associate vice president for Facilities Planning and Operations, agreed with Ruffing that the university benefits from supplier diversity.
"Supplier diversity helps companies that are typically disadvantaged to grow in relationships with the university and Ohio," said Euclide. "The university provides supplier diversity to give these disadvantaged companies opportunities to grow and become bigger players in the Northeast Ohio market."
Ozanne is a company that will benefit from the university's goal to have supplier diversity.
"They are a highly qualified company but haven't entered too much into the public market because they didn't feel they had a shot at it," said Ruffing. "Part of our match-maker outreach is to get them to come in and talk to us so we can see their qualifications."
After attending the event, Ozanne, along with other companies, submitted qualifications to be considered for interviews to win the bid for the project.
"After we put out the request for qualifications, we got them back and reviewed their qualifications," said Ruffing, "Then we came up with a short list and interviewed a few firms to see who is the best qualified and went through price negotiations from there."
They also asked the construction managers to submit price proposals and then according to the state construction laws, Kent State comes out with the best value.
"We considered a number of different approaches to the project and proposed cost and schedule options based on each approach," said Dominic Ozanne, president and chief executive officer of Ozanne Construction Company, Inc., "Our goal was to give the University a carefully thought out analysis of each alternative."
Ruffing said she could see Ozanne did carefully think out their plan.
"Ozanne had a good submittal for their qualifications," said Ruffing. "They are going to help us with design, costing, bidding, construction and supervision. They are really going to help us make decisions about the scope of the project and with the funds that have been allocated."
Overall, Euclide felt Ozanne was the best for the job as well.
"The biggest thing is that Ozanne won the job fairly and without bias," said Euclide. "They won it on their own merit and their qualifications are what helped them win the job, not their status in the diversity marketplace. We didn't select them because they were a diverse supplier, but we are glad that they are."
Ozanne said he is ecstatic that his company gets to move forward with working with Kent State.
"We are privileged to be part of Kent's team of construction professionals as the university modernizes and transforms the School of Art and other major facilities to create the Kent State of tomorrow," said Ozanne. "This prestigious project will open the door for us to work at other colleges and universities across America."
For more information on Supplier Diversity at Kent State University visit http://www.kent.edu/procurement/welcome-supplier-diversity.cfm.
For more information about Ozanne Construction visit http://www.ozanne.com.