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PACESETTERS SUCCESS STORY
Customarily in supplier diversity practices, the full contract value of large RFPs is bid and awarded to one firm. In many cases, these awards go to large national companies who occasionally subcontract a portion of the total award to a minority vendor. Northeastern University, a Pacesetter company since 2018 adopted a more progressive approach.
The deal was created by their Planning, Real Estate & Facilities (“PREF”) department, whose mission is to shape and care for Northeastern University’s physical environment in support of learning and discovery. In 2022, PREF, which oversees Northeastern’s global campus network, its climate justice and sustainability hub, facilities operations, and all its real estate and capital projects, broke their janitorial contract into two bid packages – the first bid package covered 80% of the “cleanable” campus square footage and the second bid package covered 20% of the “cleanable” campus square footage – allowing for more than one bidder to be awarded a contract and to further encourage small, diverse businesses to participate in the University’s RFP process. Bid package one was awarded to ABM Group, who subcontracted 20% of their contract value with All Time Service, a Boston based M/WBE cleaning company, which exceeded the University’s 15% M/WBE subcontractor participation requirement contained in the first bid package. Bid package two was awarded to DRB Facilities Services, an MBE janitorial, landscaping, and snow removal service company.
Anthony Samuels, CEO and President, founded DRB in 1993. Under his leadership, DRB employs over 725 employees, provides a full range of services for both corporate and government clients, and has been recognized as a leader in the industry.
The contracts between Northeastern, DRB, and All Time Service demonstrates how impactful subcontracting opportunities are in growing small business’ capacity and potential to win larger contracts. An all or nothing mindset to procurement can result in a zero-sum outcome for both the buyer and supplier. Building blocks for mentorship and subcontracting can lead to strong relationships between companies and overall, a stronger supply chain for Greater Boston.
DRB first started working with Northeastern as a subcontractor responsible for 18% of their Boston campus. Over the contract cycle, DRB was able to improve the quality and consistency of service. When Northeastern had a new contract available, DRB was invited to bid for the entirety of the campus. DRB submitted a comprehensive and timely bid response. Their technology driven service platform, quality assurance initiatives, passionate management team, and focus on sustainability made them the right fit for the proposal. This combination of skillsets was showcased during the DRB management team’s presentation to Northeastern University’s Facility, Procurement, and Finance Teams. During the presentation, Northeastern evaluated the team, the content of their RFP submission, and pricing. DRB outscored the other companies resulting in the award of the contract of approximately $6 million over two years, plus three one-year extension options at Northeastern’s discretion.
The subcontract awarded to All Time Service is a two-year term with a minimum of $2.6 million in the first year and $2.8 million in the second year with three additional one-year extension options at Northeastern University’s discretion. As part of the agreement, ABM Group adjusted their payment terms to allow All Time Service to receive payment faster, thereby allowing All Time Service to pay for their materials and staff to meet project deadlines. “Northeastern is excited to have the opportunity to grow another MBE contractor through this contract,” said Rosanna Molinaro, Director of Procurement and Contracts at Northeastern.
The Pacesetters program continuously supports partnerships in supplier diversity and cross-network sharing of best practices. Anthony Samuels, Founder and CEO of DRB states, “having a relationship with Northeastern University through the Pacesetters program provided an opportunity for additional insight into the DRB brand, and our true commitment to our partnerships and quality of service. This relationship and overall understanding of our differentiators helped to bring this deal to the finish line”. Building a network of reputable suppliers starts with information sharing and clear lines of communication. DRB also attributes the success of the contract to the clarity and depth of Northeastern’s RFP, citing that they will use the guidelines in the capabilities statement for future communications and marketing to increase their own competitiveness.
Northeastern emphasized DRB’s responsiveness and excellent services at a competitive rate. DRB’s work ethos follows a quote by Henry Ford, “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” They have exemplified the importance of sustaining positive business relationships through a track record of exemplary services. DRB has built a reputation as a quality firm, leading Northeastern to create innovative contract terms. In doing so, Northeastern has become a demonstrated leader in implementing new ways of contracting with diverse suppliers and committing to its promise of proactively advancing supplier diversity.
There are several methods to crafting more equitable contract terms for suppliers. These methods create greater opportunities for small and diverse businesses who historically have had less access to capital and capacity to take on large contracts. Practices such as breaking a contract into two or more parts to give more than one business the opportunity to bid. Requiring large prime contractors to work with diverse subcontractors gives minority- owned businesses the chance to exercise their expertise on a larger scale and to grow.
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