For Don Olson and the Cowlitz County Public Works Department, the ability to call in a knowledgeable partner and quickly put a cooperative purchasing contract into action was the key to literally getting out from under a load of garbage. Olson, a solid waste superintendent, had to move quick: The closing of his county’s landfill in Washington state and the transfer of services to a new, combined site meant a much larger dozer was needed.
Loads delivered to the new site would range from 28 to 30 tons and required a machine that could push 50 loads of that size every day. The solution was obvious: The Public Works Department needed to purchase a new Cat® D8T Track-Type Tractor. “That was the only unit that met our specs,” said Olson. But meeting the extremely tight deadline for the move meant that the county’s usual acquisition process needed to be fast-tracked.
That’s where cooperative purchasing came to the rescue. Olson was able to procure the machine he needed by piggybacking onto an existing cooperative contract available through his local Cat dealer, Peterson Cat, and the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA). One of two cooperative purchasing contracts available through the Cat Dealer Network, NJPA allows members to select from over 120 models of Cat equipment, including the D8T specified by Cowlitz County.
Because Olson’s department was an NJPA member, he was able to get the machine he needed in record time. “Writing specs and putting the machine out to bid would have taken six weeks,” he said. “By purchasing (a machine) using an existing NJPA contract, the process was completed in six days.”
Cooperative purchasing solutions work best when the cooperating public and private enterprises have already built a foundation together. In this case, Cowlitz County had laid the groundwork for fast action through membership in the NJPA, and Olson had an ongoing relationship with the county’s Cat dealership. Having mutual trust between all parties is essential, said Jason Walker, a governmental sales support consultant with Caterpillar. “As with any relationship, communication is key,” he said.
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