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Playing the numbers game

By Sean Ryan

There have been a few bid bloopers this past month, but the $1 margin on a Riley Construction Co. Inc. low bid this week wasn’t one of them.

The Kenosha-based contractor had the low bid for a new Gateway Technical College building, edging out Tri-North Builders Inc.’s $410,000 price with a $409,999 proposal.

This capped off a month where J.P. Landscaping LLC submitted a $44 billion quote for a vacant lot maintenance project in Milwaukee, and an error forced J.H. Findorff & Son Inc. to request to withdraw a bid for a Waukesha County project.

With J.P. and J.H. they were straight errors. But Riley’s estimator got his $1 edge by craft, not through a fluke.

Instead of rounding the company’s real cost of $410,763 down to $410,000, Division Manager Ben Templin shaved another buck off the price.

“About a year ago,” he said, “I noticed at least 70 percent of the guys will round it down to the zeros.”

That’s exactly what nine of the 14 bidders on the Gateway project did. Their bids, like Tri-North’s, end with three zeros. After noticing the habit in other estimators, Templin said he’s been slicing an extra dollar off every bid price.

“Just a little common sense is all it really takes,” he said.

This is the first time the odd (pun intended) practice has paid off, he said.

Well, your secret’s out now, Ben.

“Now I’m going to have to take two or three bucks off,” Templin said.

Sean Ryan, staff writer for The Daily Reporter, is going to open a $0.99 Store once he gets tired of this gig.

One comment

  1. What wasn’t mentioned was that the $1 probably represented their profit margin. Nobody is the “successful bidder” these days… not against 13 other desperate bidders.

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