The municipality reduced its procurement process by more than two months and paid less for its condenser replacement by taking advantage of a cooperative purchasing program rather than going the traditional tendering route.
No Time to Waste
The municipality of Kentville, Nova Scotia (Canada) has a seasonal NHL-sized indoor ice arena that is served by an ammonia refrigeration system. In February 2022, an aging condenser in this system unexpectedly started leaking refrigerant and CIMCO Refrigeration (CIMCO) was called in to do an emergency repair. However, this was just a temporary solution to get the rink through the current season and a major breakdown was imminent. It was clear that the only long-term solution was to replace the condenser.
As such, the municipality got the ball rolling on its usual tendering process. Unfortunately, with the pandemic-related manufacturing and shipping delays, standard lead times could no longer be relied upon. Instead, extended lead times had become the norm. It became apparent that if Kentville went the traditional tender/ Request for Proposal (RFP) route, it would not be able to replace the condenser in time to open for the new season. The additional lead time would lead to a significant revenue loss as well as service loss.
Luckily, there was another option that would allow the rink to meet its tight deadline – the Canoe Procurement Group of Canada (Canoe). The Kentville municipality had made use of this program in the past and decided to enquire into whether it could benefit them again. It could. Big time.
Canoe Simplifies the Process
What is Canoe? Simply put, it is a not-for-profit Canadian cooperative purchasing group that meets all legal RFP and tender criteria from a public purchasing standpoint. It is regulatory compliant, and every company in its growing supplier network has already been pre-vetted and pre-approved to make things easier for its 5,000+ members.
By selecting a Canoe supplier for a product or service needed, municipalities can considerably simplify their procurement process and counteract the challenge of longer lead times. It takes a tender process that is on average 13 steps long and reduces it to only four steps. All that is left of the whole process is to identify the need, research the options, issue a PO, and receive the equipment.
“With cooperative purchasing, municipalities gain the advantage by leveraging their collective buying power to cut costs and cut through some of the red tape that can slow projects down,” according to Canoe. Equipment is sold at the lowest possible margin and delivered without delay.
Cooperative purchasing is not a new concept at all. It has been used in Canada since the 1930s. Today, the procurement model has been tailored to municipalities, public sector entities, and not-for-profit organizations for maximum benefit with minimum risk, effort, and cost. The program can be used for buying equipment, building a brand-new ice rink, making general repairs, or upgrading a refrigeration system.
CIMCO Customers Benefit from Canoe
In 2020, CIMCO became a verified Canoe supplier which means that the services and products CIMCO offers have already been tendered. Thus, Kentville and other customers can skip straight to the procurement step in their buying process. It shortens the process and eliminates the effort that would normally go into tender preparation.
“Canoe is a secret weapon for municipalities to speed up the buying process for ice rink equipment,” explains Drew Watson of CIMCO, responsible for Recreational Projects – Atlantic Region – Canada. “It’s vetted, there are discounts in place, and the turnaround time is significantly reduced.” It also guarantees the customer gets the product they want, not just the cheapest product that meets the basic tender criteria.
By using Canoe, CIMCO’s customers get a 78% discount on engineering services, a 35% discount on parts and small capital upgrades, and 25% off street rates for all maintenance and repair services. It is even possible to do normal routine service contracts through Canoe.
The Kentville condenser project was very well suited to Canoe’s offering as it was a relatively straightforward major equipment replacement, and no consulting engineer was needed. CIMCO had all the in-house expertise to manage the entire project without the need for a lengthy tendering process.
“At least three months and two tenders were circumvented by going this route,” said Watson about the Kentville project. This meant that the condenser could be installed in time for opening in August.
The customer was also very happy with the end result. “The installation was great, no negative feedback at all,” said Craig Langille, Manager of Parks and Recreation Facilities, Kentville. “I was expecting the equipment to be delivered mid-September, so it was a lot earlier than expected, so kudos to the CIMCO team.”
Making it Easy for the Customer
It is relatively quick and easy to get set up with Canoe. There's no cost to the customer. The municipality simply contacts a Canoe representative and fills out an application form. The entire application process only takes around 72 hours.
There are no minimum purchasing requirements or commitments – simply use the Canoe program when needed. Once registered, the customer has access to free quotes, a cost analysis, and member assessments.
To date, CIMCO has successfully delivered more than 35 projects via the Canoe program, worth just under $10M in revenue.
“Although we make no extra money from this process, CIMCO is happy to support its municipal customers through Canoe to shorten their lead times and get the best possible pricing,” said Watson. “It’s important for us to go the extra mile for our customers.”
Canoe is not only available in Canada, but also in the U.S. via Sourcewell.
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