A tenuous tender process

The Canada Winter Games tendering process is under fire after at least two local sponsors lost contracts to a large southern conglomerate.

The Canada Winter Games tendering process is under fire after at least two local sponsors lost contracts to a large southern conglomerate.

Two weeks ago, G-P Distributing withdrew its $30,000 in Games sponsorship after learning Sysco Foods Service received the lion’s share of a $500,000 Games food contract tendered by Yukon College.

Shortly after G-P withdrew, Yukon Meat and Sausage learned it was awarded an $8,500 Games contract it hadn’t bid on.

“We just don’t understand this whole tendering process,” said Meat and Sausage co-owner Sandra Wohlfarth on Tuesday.

“And we’re tired of trying to figure it out.”

In 2005, Wohlfarth received a sponsorship package encouraging Meat and Sausage to become involved in the Games.

In the package, potential supporters were informed that Games sponsorship would result in “consideration for future Games business and encouraged patronage by Games family.”

“That sounds great, doesn’t it,” said Wohlfarth.

Meat and Sausage initially signed up as a friend of the Games, offering $1,000 in-kind, serving Games committee lunches and providing food trays for different functions.

“We ran a tab for $1,000, and they went through that pretty quick,” she said.

At this point, Wohlfarth and her husband debated offering more sponsorship, but decided to wait.

In April, Meat and Sausage was invited to partner with the Games and Yukon College to provide meat for the athletes during the big event.

“So, Yukon Meat and Sausage would be the official supplier,” said Wohlfarth.

The contract would have been worth roughly $35,000.

“At that same meeting, we were asked to consider upping our sponsorship,” she said.

“And we went, ‘Wow, these things are coming our way, this is looking really good, maybe we should,’ because we had talked about doing it anyways.”

So, Meat and Sausage upped its sponsorship to $3,000, again for Games committee working lunches.

Meat and Sausage continued its dealings with the college, and by the end of August had put together a quote for products it was able to provide.

“We knew there was a timeframe, and they wanted to go to tender with what we weren’t able to provide by October,” said Wohlfarth.

“So we really rushed between August and October to keep the quotes going back and forth.”

When the college changed its menu, Meat and Sausage had to re-quote, said Wohlfarth.

“And quoting takes a long time, because you have to get your suppliers to give you their best dollar, then we have to figure out how we can do it with very little markup,” she said.

The whole process was a lot of work, and Meat and Sausage spent upwards of 24 hours on its quotes, said Wohlfarth.

The business was told to choose what it could provide and the college would tender the rest.

“We gave them the best price and they never once said our prices were out to lunch,” she said.

But in December, Meat and Sausage was told the whole food contract was going to tender.

“We were invited to pick up a package to quote on the tender,” said Wohlfarth.

“But we felt we’d already quoted twice — we were confused at that point and just said, ‘Forget it, we don’t want to be involved.’”

After the tender was awarded to Sysco in January, the Games phoned Meat and Sausage.

“Andrew (from the Games) heard we weren’t very happy, and reiterated it was out of his control,” said Wohlfarth.

“The Games committee wasn’t looking after the food tender, the college was, so he wanted to make sure we were OK.”

Later than afternoon, Meat and Sausage got a call from the college.

“They said, ‘We need you guys to provide these six things,’” said Wohlfarth.

“But we didn’t bid on it, we didn’t do anything on it, we were just given it.”

There’s no process, she said.

Wohlfarth doesn’t blame the Games.

“When you look in the paper, the Games tenders are clear,” she said.

“There’s closing dates, everything. But with the college handling it, we didn’t have any of that — dates weren’t adhered to, there was nothing in writing other than the menu.”

Sysco is a regular supplier for Yukon College, college administrative director Wayne Coghill said last week.