Local company dumped by city for multinational

Penticton city council awarded a seven-year contract, worth up to $1.1 million

David Appleton says his bid for Penticton’s residential garbage collection wasn’t given a fair evaluation by the City of Penticton.

Last week, Penticton city council awarded a seven-year contract, worth up to $1.1 million to Waste Connections, a Texas-based multinational that bought out Progressive Waste Solutions, Penticton’s former contractor, last year.

Related: Waste Connections, Inc. And Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. Merger

Progressive was also a major corporate entity, with their Canadian office in Ontario. Appleton Waste Management, on the other hand, is based in Summerland.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit points out that it is not always the lowest bidder that gets the contract, and there were a number of factors involved in the decision to award the contract to a non-local company.

One was that this contract is being offered to communities throughout the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. If all areas chose the Waste Connections bid, the rates for the City of Penticton would decrease, and a further credit was offered if the city allowed the contractor to only provide three new trucks for the primary service and use an existing one as a spare.

Including those credits in the Waste Connections bid brought it down to about a $6,000 bid difference, and Jakubeit said that wasn’t enough to take a chance on a company he said lacked experience in curbside collection.

Appleton said the contention that his company lacks experience is disturbing and is concerned that personal conflicts played into his bid receiving a low rating.

According to Appleton, the city said his firm doesn’t have the experience to handle the contract, that they are too small a company.

“This contract for the city of Penticton is small. It fits perfectly into our wheelhouse,” said Appleton. “I run four trucks in Edmonton every day, working for the city of Edmonton, collecting the exact same stuff, garbage from multifamily residences, over 30,000 of them.”

Appleton noted that he is the third generation of his family to be involved garbage collection, and his personal experience includes everything from operating the equipment to regional vice-president operator for one of the predecessors to Waste Connections, where one of the areas he looked after was Penticton.

“We have a longstanding knowledge of this contract, not to mention this business as a whole,” said Appleton, who also dismisses the city’s other contention, that his company has no experience with automated curbside collection used to empty the carts Penticton introduced last year.

“The only difference between automated curbside collection and any other type of collection is the truck body has an arm on it that goes out and dumps the container.,” said Appleton, pointing out that though their company doesn’t own any of the trucks right now, he is very familiar with the technology and how it operates.

Jakubeit explained the city’s requirement that the winning bidder uses new, or nearly new, trucks to fulfil the contract was the reason for the seven-year term.

“For the companies to amortise their costs to invest in new equipment, seven years was that sweet spot,” said Jakubeit, explaining that the winning contractor might not see a return on their capital investment if a shorter term contract wasn’t renewed.

Jakubeit also said that though Waste Connections is a multinational, their workforce is local and spends their wages in the South Okanagan.

Waste Connections has been servicing Penticton for close to 20 years (in a series of companies being taken over) and we have a rapport built up,” said Jakubeit. “They’ve been handling curbside collection, which is really the bulk of the services required here, with a level of professionalism that we have come to appreciate. It was price along with their service record and their ability to handle what was asked of them.”