Government

Vendors Learn to Do Business With County, City

County Purchasing and Contracting employees help register new vendors to the County's BuyNet solicitation system.

More than a hundred vendors – from landscapers to builders, engineers to chemical suppliers, to many others – attended a joint County and City outreach event Wednesday to help them to learn how to do business with the two local governments.

County and City purchasing and contracting representatives described their procurement processes and encouraged vendors to introduce themselves to potential contract managers at a forum at the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa.

Jan Hall of Target Specialty Products, whose supplies include fertilizer and applicators, stood in line to register for the City of San Diego’s PlanetBids solicitation system. Hall said she has been working with the City’s parks department on a limited basis, but was interested in perhaps learning about how to broaden her reach at the City and perhaps into the County.

“I’m not knowledgeable about the bidding process, so I thought it’d be a good idea to see if there other opportunities,” said Hall.

County Purchasing and Contracting Director Jack Pellegrino, who helped lead a question-and-answer session, said the County is planning on hosting more vendor outreach events in the near future in communities and will also reach out to trade groups. This year, the City and County invited some of the individual departments that frequently have projects requiring supplies or services.

“I wanted both the existing suppliers and new suppliers to learn how we do business and also make some connections with our departments, because the departments determine their needs and requirements. Then they come to Purchasing and Contracting to solicit for those requirements and award contracts. So it’s really about making connections today and increasing the breadth and depth of our supplier base,” said Pellegrino. “I can never have enough good quality vendors providing those goods and services.”

Often vendors deal with multiple municipalities or school districts and each has different legal requirements and different purchasing protocols to follow because of specific laws and policies of each governing board, said Pellegrino. Many of the questions vendors posed to him had to do with trying to understand those differences.

One vendor, Chris Dougherty of RD3 Inc., a trucking, construction and equipment company, said he and his partner were registering with both the County’s and City’s bidding system but had some questions about how the competitive business process worked.

Vendor representatives from the community talk to City of San Diego staff about the procurement system.
Vendor representatives talk to City of San Diego staff about the procurement system.

Kristina Peralta, City of San Diego purchasing and contracting director, knows it’s no fun for vendors to navigate the government procurement process.

“We again are safeguarding taxpayer funds and making sure that we are spending responsibly,” she said. “So I would say that the most important thing as a bidder is to understand that our processes might not be easy but they are meant to be fair and they need to follow the process. The most successful bidders and partnerships are the ones where vendors come in with an open mind and let us guide them through that process.”

Peralta noted there are small differences such as insurance requirements or greater flexibilities in small transactions in the process for doing business with the County or City, but that one isn’t better than the other. Rather, she said, there are plenty of opportunities to explore doing business with both.

April Heinze, general manager of the County group that includes purchasing, noted that there was a bigger turnout this year than last year’s first event with the City.

“I think each time we do this, we’re reaching a different segment of the population; about half the people in the room currently do business with the City and or the County, so that means there’s 50 percent that don’t and that’s a new base to reach out to,” Heinze said. “We had over 2,000 vendors participate in the County’s procurements last year so that’s a pretty big pool but we’d like to see that even bigger and make sure that the local participation is as broad as possible.”

To learn more about doing business with the County, visit the Purchasing and Contracting Department page, call or drop in to speak with someone. The website also includes information on how to register for BuyNet, the County’s procurement system which notifies people about County business opportunities.

To learn more about doing business with the City of San Diego, visit its Purchasing and Contracting Department page, and register for PlanetBids, the City’s bidding system.

 

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact