Choice Partners national purchasing cooperative offers quality, legal procurement and contract solutions to meet government purchasing requirements. We also meet all of the EDGAR/Uniform Guidance/2 CFR 200 requirements!  

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Vendor Spotlight

Teaching Systems gets straight A’s on quality, service

Posted on August 4, 2016

Robots run around the room. 3D printers create architectural designs, dioramas, models of body parts – you name it. Laser machines engrave detailed artwork and maps on wood and carve chess sets out of stone. Is this Earth in the year 2200, perhaps? Actually, it’s today’s STEM-friendly classroom, thanks to Teaching Systems Inc.

“Teaching Systems works on getting the things we need,” said Don Kelly, a career and technical education specialist at Garland Independent School District. With Teaching Systems’ help, Kelly added, Garland ISD was even able to take advantage of a special “buy four, get two free” deal on 3D printers with Makerbot. 

“We just enjoy working with them,” he said.

Teaching Systems employees not only find the right deals and products for their customers, but they never fail to follow through.

‘Easy to work with’ every step of the way

Northside Independent School District Instructional Specialist Rosanna Perez mentioned that if she ever has a problem, Teaching Systems is sure to take care of it immediately. Because “success is the most important thing” to her and her students, the Teaching Systems staff know they need to make every product work
successfully.

Perez was not the only customer who said that Teaching Systems goes above and beyond to meet with Choice Partners members face-to-face and get them what they need.

“What I like about them most is that they actually come to El Paso and present their products,” said Eric Winkelman, director of career and technical education at El Paso Independent School District.

“They come on a regular basis, stop by and visit the teachers,” he added.

Winkelman also mentioned that El Paso ISD has been working with Teaching Systems for almost 20 years, and just one time was there an issue with shipping. However, he said that when Teaching Systems employees became aware of the problem, they apologized, took responsibility and quickly overnighted the product.

“They’ve always been easy to work with,” he explained.

Kelly cited an incident last year in which Garland ISD had difficulty fixing its broken embroidery machines. Teaching Systems not only helped them fix the machines but also set up future trainings for the teachers. Instead of leaving Garland ISD teachers on their own, Teaching Systems remained involved in the training process every step of the way.

Fluent in partnership and success

When Northside ISD knew that it would need learning labs for students taking foreign language AP classes due to a requirement to record and send MP3 files, it had to go with an option that could provide a seamless user experience.


“We wanted something that would work 100 percent of the time,” Perez said.

Naturally, the choice was Teaching Systems, who Perez says has a “really good” relationship with the Northside ISD technology department.

Teaching Systems provided the equipment for the language labs, as well as staff development and training resources for foreign language teachers.

“Our teachers feel comfortable with Teaching Systems,” Perez said. “They are more than a vendor; they’re a partner.”

Accessing Teaching Systems’ awarded contract through Choice Partners has been a plus for members.

“We’re satisfied with how smooth it’sbeen using co-op purchasing for Teaching Systems,” Winkelman said.

Employees at Teaching Systems agreed that working with a co-op has been a win-win. According to President and Vice President of Operations Kim Savage, Choice Partners has allowed for a “streamlined process” in business, bringing purchase orders in quickly through an awarded contract. She noted that the shortened bidding process is beneficial to both Teaching Systems and customers. 

“A lot of purchase orders have been able to come in because we’ve already been awarded a contract and that’s what [customers are] looking for,” Savage said. “When we say that we’re a Choice Partners contract, then it’s an order
immediately for both of us.”

To learn more about Teaching Systems and its Choice Partners contract, go to https://www.choicepartners.org/vendors/teaching-systems-inc-3 or call 817-417-7775 or for local sales representatives, please visit http://www.teachingsystems.com/contact.php

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Borden quality service never expires

Posted on May 26, 2016

It’s no secret that when it comes to putting tasty and nutritional food in front of millions of children, today’s schools face a logistical challenge on par with going to the mooooooon and back. That’s why it’s important to contract with a dairy vendor, like Borden, willing to pamper its customers with excellent service.

“Borden responds to concerns in a timely manner. Their customer service team stays in constant communication with us regarding missing orders or other issues,” said Kara Lam, assistant director, Child Nutrition, Humble Independent School District. “They are willing to adjust routes to accommodate holiday schedules, school openings and closings, et cetera. They take care of the logistics so we don’t have to worry.”

“Overall, we’ve been very happy with Borden’s products and service,” said Christopher Kamradt, director, Child Nutrition Services, Spring Branch ISD. “If I were asked if I would recommend Borden, I would unequivocally say yes.”

It’s helpful to know that Borden’s Choice Partners contract is flexible enough to yield more than just milk. The company delivers other healthy and refreshing items such as 100% juices, brewed tea, cultured products and yogurt – all stamped with both Elsie’s signature smile and Choice Partners’ seal of approval.

“[We are] very satisfied with Choice Partners as a whole, with how they do business and how they treat us,” Kamradt said. “Choice Partners makes our lives that much easier.”

La Porte ISD Director of School Nutrition Yvonne Bennett agreed that Choice Partners stays on top of the purchasing process and keeps the lines of communication open.

“We have not had a problem at all,” Bennett said, referring to Choice Partners. “And we know that they are in compliance.”

For more information, contact David Wood at 713-724-5872 or visit https://www.choicepartners.org/vendors/borden-milk.

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ISI Commercial Refrigeration ready to serve

Posted on May 26, 2016

Choice Partners contract for commercial refrigerationGovernment and education facilities don’t just want to feed people—they need to feed people. Their kitchens have zero room for unreliable equipment or halfhearted customer service, so when it’s time to make installations or repairs to keep hungry patrons moving through the lunch line, ISI Commercial Refrigeration gets a call.

“I use ISI for large and small equipment purchases, as [Sales Consultant] Chris Wiggins has always been one to be budget-minded to meet our needs as well as ensure quality delivery,” said New Caney ISD Child Nutrition Director Debbie Needham.

Jennifer Douglas, director of child nutrition, Galveston ISD, agreed that ISI “goes above and beyond” when it comes to customer service.

“ISI provides great service – they communicate well,” Douglas said. “Its customer service is very user-friendly and very flexible.”

In an industry where options for customization are all but endless, members said they enjoy working with a vendor that can help them see through the fog.

“I think what I like about [Wiggins] is that he stays on top of what is the going product at the time as well as any updates on equipment,” Needham said. ”He is knowledgeable about comparing products and helping us find which piece of equipment may work best, as it can vary by campus.”

As many governmental entities know, bringing tasty and nutritious food to the serving lines can be an arduous legal process. Luckily, Choice Partners cooperative purchasing contracts speed things up.

“I’ve always appreciated the work that Choice Partners does behind the scenes to make sure contracts are in compliance,” Douglas said.

For more information, contact Chris Wiggins at 713-861-4455 ext. 3508, cwiggins@isi-texas.com or visit https://www.choicepartners.org/vendors/isi-commercialrefrigeration-2.

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Zimmerer Kubota makes hay out of contract for equipment

Posted on May 26, 2016

Choice Partners provides equipment with Zimmerer Kubota contractBlue skies, outdoor activities, freshly cut grass – these things have us looking forward to summer all year long, but when it’s your job to stay ahead of nature’s budding greenery, summer is less a friend and more that pesky relative that keeps demanding money. To keep grass – and equipment budgets – from growing sky-high, groundskeepers and other maintenance professionals know they need the right equipment and dependable service. In other words, they need Zimmerer Kubota and Equipment Inc.

“Zimmerer Kubota all the way!” said Irving Independent School District Grounds and Environmental Quality Supervisor Todd Lane.

While praising the efforts of Steve Lee, assistant store manager, Governmental & Fleet Sales, Lane emphasized that while many companies tout quality customer
service, the folks at Zimmerer Kubota actually deliver it.

“Once, when we had purchased a mower that had a problem with one of the pulleys, Steve called us ahead of time and told us the company had made a faulty pulley,” Lane said, remembering that he was impressed that the company was aware of the problem before it arose. “Steve came out to the site and replaced the pulleys himself.”

Lane isn’t the only one to find Zimmerer Kubota’s products and service to be top-notch.

“Everything is going fine,” said Joe Brinkley, road foreman, Parker County Precinct #1.

Brinkley recently purchased a ten-foot batwing mower from Zimmerer Kubota using the Choice Partners contract – not exactly your grandmother’s lawn equipment.

In addition to high-power machinery, governmental entities also like the ease of using Zimmerer Kubota’s cooperative purchasing contract with Choice Partners.

“Steve and everyone else at Zimmerer Kubota are well-versed in government purchasing,” Lane said, adding that is not always the case with other vendors.

“If I can buy it through Choice Partners and not have to get three quotes, that’s better for me,” said Lane.

“That’s the thing that’s good about Choice Partners.”

For more information, contact Steve Lee at 817-281-6143 or stevel@zkmail.com or visit https://www.choicepartners.org/vendors/zimmererkubota-and-equipment-3.

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JOC needed for quick maintenance

Posted on May 26, 2016

As students leave for the summer, maintenance directors know to expect a list of maintenance projects from principals, along with their demands for the work to be completed before August. Quick deadlines are only possible to meet using a JOC-IDIQ (Job Order Contract – Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity) procured construction contract.

Government code 2269 mandates that facilities construction and maintenance contracts be procured using JOC, which resembles time and materials contracts that were allowed about a decade ago. The unit price book published in the RFP specifies how much the entity will pay per unit, then a multiplier (which is a discount in Choice Partners contracts) is applied to reach final pricing.

Members are amazed to discover JOC is not as expensive as they might think, according to Jim Owens, construction consultant for more than 40 years.

Rely on Choice Partners contracts to be compliant with the law, as they follow the gold standard, with Harris County Department of Education using the Choice Partners contracts awarded by its own board. It’s easy to identify Choice Partners facilities contracts for construction and trades -- look for JOC-IDIQ next to the contract category name. 

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Tech-Labs leaves quality footprint

Posted on February 2, 2016
Imagine the parts of a flower replicated and enlarged so that you can see the smallest details in its stem and petals. Picture a high school classroom outfitted with a life-size command room so that students can simulate sailing a ship. Technical Laboratory Systems (Tech-Labs) makes these dreams a reality by providing 3-D printers, simulators and other equipment using its Choice Partners contract– and the company is making quite the impression on our members.


“Tech-Labs did a stellar job,” Drew Thurman, manager, Career and Technical Education, Houston ISD, said of Tech-Labs’ pivotal role in providing technology for Austin High School’s full bridge simulator, a room built to mimic a ship’s control center that gives maritime students an immersive, hands-on learning experience that’s about as close to actual navigating as you can get.

“Typically you’d see these types of simulators at training facilities or colleges,” Thurman said, clearly proud of the high-tech installation. He added that Tech-Labs “did their homework and were extremely attentive” to HISD’s needs.

On a smaller, but no less impressive, scale, Tech-Labs has also shown members that it is the captain of the 3-D printer world – specifically the education market.

“The printer itself works flawlessly and we have no complaints about the device,” said Aaron Ellis, senior multimedia specialist, San Antonio College – Alamo Colleges, referring to the Stratasys Eden 260-V 3D printer that he acquired using Tech-Labs’ Choice Partners contract. “We have been able to build highly-detailed 3D objects for our faculty to use in their classrooms that they could not have obtained from any other source.”

That’s because Tech-Labs is one of the few platinum distributors for Stratasys, a pioneer in 3D technology and one of the largest suppliers of 3D printers in the world. Tech-Labs is also a full-service provider of educational equipment and software, distributing robotics, e-learning and heavy equipment simulators.

The 3D printer that Tech-Labs sold to San Antonio College using the Choice Partners contract utilizes a unique printing process that offers smooth finish surfaces -- technology ideal for architecture, animation and prototyping.

“Without getting too technical, smooth finish is why people buy this particular product,” explained Jamey Deloney, regional manager, Tech-Labs, adding that the printer offers fine detail with a fast processing time.

Fine detail is the name of the game when it comes to 3D printing.

“Among other things, we have printed miniature replicas of unique artifacts like dinosaur footprints found in San Antonio,” Ellis said. “Our instructors are pleased with the customized 3D-printed teaching aids that we have been able to provide to them.”

Tech-Labs, along with its team of factory-trained technicians, has solidified its reputation for quality customer service – a touchstone of many Choice Partners vendors.

“Tech-Labs has been great and has provided excellent service and responsiveness,” Ellis said. “Jamey Deloney was very helpful and James Rorls from Stratasys got everything set up and working perfectly.”

“If something is not right, they help you get it right,” Thurman said.

For more information about the Technical Lab Systems products, go to https://www.choicepartners.org/vendors/technical-lab-systems-4 or call Lisa Stewart at 281-391-7010.
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