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Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by John Allin, Sep 9, 2001.

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  1. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    I've recently been told (from someone in the green industry) that payoffs are a reality in the business world.

    I have never paid off anyone in my business live, and never even gave it a thought to do it.....

    Has anyone here ever done that, or condoned that sort of practice??

    JD PLOWER PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 751

    Well this being a public forum I'm not going to get into details but lets just say that in this market if most of your competition is willing to go down that route, than you have to at least consider it. I don't condone it as a standard buisness practice but I know many contractors that regularly kick back money to individuals (foreman, supervisors) to gain work or to keep work. This city currently has the largest publicworks project going on in the country (14.4 BILLION) and it is so currupt it stinks out loud. The trucking alone is a cottage industry for the foreman ( if you want to be able to make that nut on your truck you will have to kick back a percentage) . Thats not to say that nobody around these parts is doing things correctly or honestly but sometimes it just seems that way. I have not heard of direct payoff's for snowplowing but some of the states largest snowplowing contractors are known to be "in good" with the states pols so they get to put on ghosts during some storms or they get to have trucks parked for long periods of time AFTER a storm. To me it's just a matter of power and greed , two things that seem to go together a lot .
  3. guido

    guido PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 261

    In the NorhEast there is a large

    amount of this behavior. I've seen it for plowing, towing, painting, and even catering!!! :) No Joke!

    Our city officials were known to be pretty crooked, for as long as I remember, and they were easily bought. There were a lot of times where a bid was "announced" as law states, but only announced to a select group of contractors. Those guys would sit down together and take turns winning a bid. Well if this month was John's month, he would bid a price to include a HUGE profit, and all the other guys made sure they bid up outrageously higher prices than his original outrageous price to ensure he got the contract.

    It was a circle and it always came back around to you, so it worked out for everyone. One or Two a year usually took very well care of you.

    It worked the same way when plowing for the city. There are 100 trucks in reserve (just throwing out #'s) to go out for a storm. Well we just get a small sprinkle. They don't need 100 trucks to go out so they only have to call a handfill to augment the city trucks. Who do they call first, Joe Blow or their buddy John Allin or Guido??

    If you guys don't think this goes on, look a little closer. Some times its hard to see because they've gotten good at doing it, but its in everything. I watch it here with the contractors on base!! Its amazing what someone will do for an outrageous amount of money!
  4. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    Why John no SIMA member is good standing would ever do such a thing.
    In my very simplistic view point, I wouldnt want to work for a town, city, state or private person that wanted to do such a thing. Sooner or later that will come back to bite you. Either someone else will give an extra grand or two, and you are sucking wind with no work, or they get caught. No amount of money is worth jail time.
    In fact Vinnie and I were speaking with a person from a military est., and he cant even go to dinner and have a free meal, or recieve a coat, or hat or anything from a vendor. The military doens t want any image of tarnishment.
  5. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    I can attest to that as far as a government employee goes. We were told that the "coffee and donut rule applies". That means you can't accept anything that costs more than $5.00. It's ok for contractors to bring in coffee and donuts, or to buy you a soda. But it stops there. We were told point blank you could be terminated for accepting anything else. Some guys wouldn't even accept the coffee.

  6. guido

    guido PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 261

    That is true.

    We get the occasional key chain or hat, but nothing more. Our rule is a little higher though like $250 or something like that.

    Companies know these reg's and still work around them though. If they want us to look at buying they're product, say a cgrated drainage system (this was last fall) they selected a few of us to go to a training seminar as they called it to tell us about they're product, show it off, train on install's, etc, and a VERY nice dinner was included afterwards, but it was part of the "free seminar" This was all before we ever commited to buying the product.
  7. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Funny you mention that Guido. The legal department rep that gave us the lecture about taking "gifts", mentioned going to a seminar of some sort, where there was a free lunch. They were all legal reps, and there was a 6' sub sandwich. He said the first guy went up and got a piece, and left $5 on the table. After that, everyone followed suit, and left $5 on the table.

  8. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Not for federal contracts - the risk is too great. Unless you're dealing directly with Congress, then I suppose it's understood. Where you're going to have the most kickback is if you're going after a subcontract with a private company that has a government contract.
  9. Taconic

    Taconic PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 180

    In our market John it is common place ! Its a shame but it happens
    John Parker
  10. plowjockey

    plowjockey PlowSite.com Sponsor
    Messages: 622

    I agree with Dino in that this practice is below the standards that I feel we as SIMA members hold ourselves to.
    It is a distasteful idea but unfortunately a fact of modern day business in some circles.
    I for one would walk away form anything quickly that even hinted about the thought of a kickback. Not to mention the legal ramifications I just hold my own personal ethics above any amount of money which is why I joined SIMA and their "ethical" management of snow and ice control.
    Others who want to work that way would be the types to go out to salt or plow when the business was closed and not do part of it but yet bill for full service.
    IMO a kickback situation should be reported to a wastebuster group that protects the spending of our tax dollars.

    OK off the soapbox

  11. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    No comment.

    I know I don't accept or provide kick backs.

  12. snow

    snow PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 1,002

    I know it's around in my town. The old fire chief was fired cause he got a lotta kick backs from fire truck companies. he would go down 1 or 2 weeks to "look at the trucks" where they were made in florida. i sure don't think he paid for the place where he stayed. The company who's supplying fire trucks for the town now flies in customers, and puts them up at hotels to look at the trucks. I guess u coulda call that kickbacks, it's not exactly cash, or under the table, but it keeps them buying that brand of trucks.

    I believe there's some kickback for DPW jobs. One main contractor seems to be doing all the new sidewalks and granite curbs. whenever i go to the Conex show in hartford, i see him with the head honchos from the DPW.

    Some people will do anything to get a job.

  13. plowjockey

    plowjockey PlowSite.com Sponsor
    Messages: 622

    I was not pointing at anyone with my previous post but I do feel that every $1,000.00 that is spent in a kickback by governments is money that could be better spent on public education or city /county/state road maintenance or at least something my tax dollars were really intended for.

  14. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Would you consider this a kickback? I've been thinking about offering something in cash to any snowplow operator who refers one of his customers to me for sanding. I would then coordinate services with the plow operator. For me, this is a form of advertising.
  15. guido

    guido PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 261


    thats just a referal award, like a free lawn mowing, etc. Thats not the same thing. They have an open market choice to have you sand for them, they don't have to hire you.

    When I was referring to it happening in the Fed Gov/Military, I meant the stuff was coming our way, I didn't mena we give anything out. And usually the dollar amounts on the contracts to buy equipment are pretty cut throat and close.

    Like I said, I see it now and then, but I'm not a part of it. I hope all that SIMA boyscout like image stuff you guys posted wasn't towards me.

    I don't get involved personally in this stuff, I just see it all around me everywhere I've been. You can make it without bribing people, if you can't, you won't make it anyway!
  16. John Allin

    John Allin PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,327

    Legitimate commission is one thing. Finders fees - maybe. Lunch's - common practice.

    I was referring to the ol' cash in an envelope, handed under the table or in a dark alley type thing.

    I'm working all over the country, and if it ever came up, I'd walk away. I'm living proof that you don't need that kind of thing to be successful, and I'm proud of it.

    Dino is exactly right..... SIMA promotes ethics and I would be loath to be apart of anything such as kickbacks like what has been alluded to above.

    I was quite amazed by the comment that was forwarded to me about this subject, and from where it came.... as well as the apparent approval of this sort of action.

    Funny thing.... when we got a big contract last year I had one potential sub ask me what it would cost him to bid the work... I was really taken back by the question... and sputtered back "Why would you expect to pay to bid?"

    Guess I'm alot more nieve than I perceived myself to be.....

    And, I like it that way.
  17. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Guido - that's what I figured. But since I've never been in business before, always is government, I guess it kind of makes you think differently.

    This has been an interesting thread.
  18. Aspen Snow

    Aspen Snow Senior Member
    Messages: 148

    In our area, there is a couple of property manager that give work to a few exclusive contractor for this reason. We have bidded work for them but some how our bid are never accept and I think not even looked at. I will not accept to lower our practices to there standards. I think payoffs are not professional and also hurts our industry as a whole.
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