CROWN POINT | Five businesses made their sales pitch Monday to Lake County officials for heating, ventilation and air conditioning services to county government buildings, but only one had its finger on the power switch.
A representative of Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls used his handheld device to dim the lights in the Lake County Commissioners courtroom for its PowerPoint presentation. Johnson can do that because the company has been the county government vendor since the 1970s and already is tapped into the government center's lighting system.
Representatives from five other potential vendors handed out paper brochures and speeches about how long they have operated in Lake County and how many local residents they employ. But they conceded they couldn't match the electronic umbilical cord Johnson now has with county government.
Johnson's representatives said the company uses the existing link to monitor and correct any mechanical problems before they result in expensive failures.
"We are not Johnson Controls," said Ralph Neff, vice president of Gary-based Mechanical Concepts Inc. However, he said his firm has worked in county government buildings, including the Lake County Juvenile Court, under past work contracts.
Representatives of Arctic Engineering Co. Inc., of Merrillville, said they previously worked for Johnson Controls and knew all the county government building parameters.
Lake County Commissioners are reviewing some of their most lucrative service contracts instead of just renewing vendors for another year. They are expected to request bids from all potential vendors in the coming weeks.
Others include: Budd Mechanical Systems, of Hammond; T&M Mechanical Construction Inc., of Griffith; and General Energy Corp., of Oak Park. Their representatives said they offer 24-hour response and repair services and many decades of business experience working with a number of local businesses and local government agencies.