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Vendor Spotlight

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, or visit

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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 or visit

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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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Heat Transfer Solutions conducts energy savings

Posted on March 31, 2016

Bell County Expo Center renovated by Heat Transfer SolutionsWhile spring is for many the season of renewal and optimism, for others it means flipping the thermostat switch back to “cool” – a refreshing change until the energy bill rolls in. Rising temperatures can mean spiking operating costs and added risk to budgets already stretched too thin. For such a common problem – and others – Heat Transfer Solutions (HTS) has answers.

“We’re seeing about 40% savings across the board,” said John Dungan, assistant director, Bell County Expo Center, referring to the perks of a roughly $5 million renovation completed using HTS’ Choice Partners contract for HVAC equipment and service (JOC-IDIQ).

Energy savings are not all that have members singing HTS’ praises. The full-service HVAC distributor, which has 16 locations in North America, is known for bending over backwards for its clients.

“[HTS] knows exactly what we are asking for and gets it to us in most cases within a couple of days,” said Vincent Price, assistant director, Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), before adding: “We have been very pleased with their performance.”

Better quality of light

Situated in the heart of central Texas is the Bell County Expo Center, a multi-venue events space that includes an arena and several exhibit halls. According to Dungan, the Expo’s “mixed bag of buildings” hosts around 250 events annually, including rock concerts, dog shows and high school graduations.

When, at the ripe old age of 28, the Expo Center was in sore need of updates, Dungan braced himself for costly closures and cancellations.

“We only have a handful of dark days during the year,” he said. “We met with several firms, and HTS was head and shoulders the most qualified.”

Many venues like the Expo Center shy away from major renovations that might require them to block out weeks of their calendar, but here’s where HTS obliterates expectations. For the entire span of the renovation project, the Expo Center never had to cancel an event due to renovation.

“We couldn’t shut it down for two weeks while we installed HVAC equipment,” said Bill Schumann, commissioner, Bell County Precinct 3, explaining that the Expo Center’s events are usually booked months in advance. He added that HTS achieved “a phenomenal, logistical success!”

“HTS worked through our event load,” said Dungan, providing not only energy-saving technology and excellent customer service but “a better quality of light” in many areas.

Additionally, HTS installed some “of the most cutting-edge chillers in the state of Texas,” which are more than just energy-efficient. “They’re quiet,” Dungan said.

Single source for multiple needs

Knowing exactly what’s needed to improve a facility often requires specialized knowledge. For example, DCCCD uses HTS’ Choice Partners contract to fill orders for variable frequency drives (VFD’s), which basically stop HVAC motors from going zero to a hundred every time they operate. Co-op members enjoy competitive pricing on these energy-saving devices.

Governmental entities can also benefit from using HTS’ services across a broad platform. “Since HTS was part of the co-op, they were one of the vendors that we could use,” said Schumann. “They were a single source for the engineering, construction, and energy savings that we wanted to achieve.”

Energy savings, logistical magic, one-stop shopping for government purchasing – what’s the downside?

“No downside, all upside,” Dungan said.

To learn more about Heat Transfer Solutions, go to or contact Bob Lane at or 512-470-0580. 

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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 or call Lisa Stewart at 281-391-7010.
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Roofing provides watertight energy solution

Posted on October 5, 2015

HydroStop roofing application

Anyone who’s ever needed roof repairs knows that the process can be messy, expensive, and time-consuming. Not so with Hi-Mark Roofing and Waterproofing.

The company uses the Choice Partners cooperative purchasing contract to install a roofing system that keeps water out and energy bills low – all under tight deadlines and at a reasonable price.

The beauty of the HydroStop roofing system that Hi-Mark installs, according to owner John Follis, lies in its simplicity. The work requires but a few simple tools – a brush, a hose, a pair of scissors and a paint roller.

“We do work while the building is occupied,” Follis explained. “It’s clean, easy, and safe, and it eliminates all the points of failure commonly seen in roofing.”

Hi-Mark Roofing and Waterproofing installationHi-Mark’s customers are pleased with the company’s professional level of service and thrilled with the savings on energy costs. Curtis “Robbie” Robinson, Sheldon ISD maintenance coordinator, contracted Hi-Mark to install its product on top of a 50-year-old roof at Royalwood Elementary. Now, Hi-Mark is Sheldon ISD’s preferred applicator of the Hydrostop system, which has been approved by the school district’s board of trustees for use on all campuses.

“That cool roof has made a big difference,” Robinson said. “We used to have roof leaks every day, and I haven’t had a leak since.”

Robinson added that he’s satisfied with the seamless roof, which is self-cleaning, except for the drain lines. Other school districts that have used Hi-Mark’s contract have seen energy savings ranging between 10 and 20%.

Hi-Mark’s contract for IDIQ roofing, waterproofing and moisture control—first approved by Harris County Department of Education’s (HCDE) board of directors in 2014—is a primary example of how Choice Partners contracts meet the gold standard in purchasing. When HCDE’s Westview Drive facility was in need of an update, Hi-Mark rose to the occasion.

“We had a unique situation with our roof,” Les Hooper, HCDE executive director of facilities, explained. “This was a 480,000 sq. ft. facility that was a combination of two buildings with two different roof systems.”
Hi-Mark Roofing applies HydroStop coating

Hooper went on to say that energy efficiency and long-term durability were primary factors in the selection of Hi-Mark; its ability to complete the project in a short time frame made the choice a no-brainer.

“Hi-Mark was able to easily accomplish what we needed more so than what conventional roofing would have,” he said.

Last year, Hi-Mark installed roughly half a million square feet of roofing on schools. This year, the company is on track to double that. Follis credits cooperative purchasing with bringing simplicity and reliability to the government bidding process.

“My company’s utilization of the purchasing cooperative is why it’s working great for schools,” he said.

For more information about Hi-Mark, go to vendors/hi-mark-roofing-and-waterproofing or contact owner John Follis at john@ or 832-434-4170. 

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