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    Default Apparatus Builders

    My department is starting the process of purchasing a new Engine. My departments apparatus fleet has been built by several different apparatus builders through the years. I am currently putting the specs together to go to bid, being a fan of competitive bid I am trying to keep the specs competitive yet detailed on what I want. I am open to different builders but, whom ever we go with this year will likely be whom we look towards in future purchases because I know pricing does have a certain "relationship" factor built in.

    What I am looking for is some input on builders to stay away from. I have spoken with Ferrara, Rosenbauer and Pierce so far, is their anyone else that we should include in our discussions?

    All comments are welcome and thanks.

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    You should be able to get some good advice on here, but it will be up to you to decide which is credible.
    Last edited by MurphysFireKC; 01-10-2010 at 12:43 PM.

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    Only you can decide who you want to stay away from. I wont name any names, but there were two builders that we specifically decided we simply were not interested in dealing with. Although I cannot recall ever telling them directly "sorry, we're not interested in your product" I am sure word got back to their local sales reps that we were not interested in their line; and they did not contact us. It did not bother us in the least.

    As has been proven time and time again in here, many people have their reasons for disliking certain manufacturers. I will be first to admit that I have a dislike of KME and E-One fire apparatus. I have my reasons, I will not get into them right now. Many accuse me of being a Pierce Hater as well. I like Pierce Fire Apparatus, it is Pierce's Corporate Administrative Policies and Procedures as well as their Sales tactics that I dislike. I have logged more miles driving, more hours pumping, and more flying an aerial time on Pierce apparatus than I have anything other brand.

    You need to sort out whom you want to do business with from who you dont. How are the local sales reps? Are they receptive to meeting with you, providing brochures, photographs, sample specifications (be careful here, many sample specs are written around the giver's product) Will they bring a demonstrator to your Department to view, pump & play with? Is the salesman available via telephone for questions? What about the Mfr the salesman is working for? Will they build what you want, and when you want it? Will they build it HOW YOU WANT IT, and NOT HOW THEY WANT TO BUILD IT FOR YOU?

    Do they trash talk other brands, or do they simply say "Well, I think we can do it better than "brand xyz", because........

    Coming on here and asking who to stay away from is asking for trouble. Anyone and everyone will tell you "Stay away from brand .........." I will, however, go out on a limb here and say, avoid American LaFrance. They just do not have the stability in their corporate structure right now to make me comfortable enough to give them a pile of my money.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Only you can decide who you want to stay away from. I wont name any names, but there were two builders that we specifically decided we simply were not interested in dealing with. Although I cannot recall ever telling them directly "sorry, we're not interested in your product" I am sure word got back to their local sales reps that we were not interested in their line; and they did not contact us. It did not bother us in the least.

    As has been proven time and time again in here, many people have their reasons for disliking certain manufacturers. I will be first to admit that I have a dislike of KME and E-One fire apparatus. I have my reasons, I will not get into them right now. Many accuse me of being a Pierce Hater as well. I like Pierce Fire Apparatus, it is Pierce's Corporate Administrative Policies and Procedures as well as their Sales tactics that I dislike. I have logged more miles driving, more hours pumping, and more flying an aerial time on Pierce apparatus than I have anything other brand.

    You need to sort out whom you want to do business with from who you dont. How are the local sales reps? Are they receptive to meeting with you, providing brochures, photographs, sample specifications (be careful here, many sample specs are written around the giver's product) Will they bring a demonstrator to your Department to view, pump & play with? Is the salesman available via telephone for questions? What about the Mfr the salesman is working for? Will they build what you want, and when you want it? Will they build it HOW YOU WANT IT, and NOT HOW THEY WANT TO BUILD IT FOR YOU?

    Do they trash talk other brands, or do they simply say "Well, I think we can do it better than "brand xyz", because........

    Coming on here and asking who to stay away from is asking for trouble. Anyone and everyone will tell you "Stay away from brand .........." I will, however, go out on a limb here and say, avoid American LaFrance. They just do not have the stability in their corporate structure right now to make me comfortable enough to give them a pile of my money.
    If you were to be purchasing a new Apparatus today who would you contact?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RES81CUE View Post
    If you were to be purchasing a new Apparatus today who would you contact?
    I would do what we did in 2007. I would write a generic spec for what I want, and submit it to any manufacturer who was interested enough to spend the time to reach out to me, or spend time to speak to me if I contacted them. I would certainly make sure a set of my specs got to (in NO specific order....)

    -Toyne
    -Pierce
    -Seagrave
    -HME
    -Rosenbauer
    -4-Guys
    -Swab
    -Marion
    -SVI
    -Smeal

    -Just off the top of my head. And for the above who only build bodies, I would plop their product down onto a Spartan chassis, hopefully with a C13 Cat or a 60-Series Detroit Diesel.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Quote Originally Posted by RES81CUE View Post
    I am open to different builders but, whom ever we go with this year will likely be whom we look towards in future purchases because I know pricing does have a certain "relationship" factor built in.
    I consider the "relationship factor" a negative thing. Once a department gets too comfortable with a particular builder, competitors can be come reluctant to bid because they think its a waste of time. Likewise, the builder who thinks they have an exclusive in your department loses their motivation to provide excellent customer support and competitive pricing.

    One more thing: I get so disgusted with departments who "write" (and I use this term very loosely) their own specs. I suggest that 95+ percent of departments contact a manufacturer who "helps" them out by providing them a set of specs. All of these specs include some type of exclusive (frame rail thickness, engine choice) that only their company provides.

    The scenario usually plays out like this:
    *Company A "helps you out" by providing you with a set of specs.
    *The FD does a "copy and paste" and puts those specs out for bid.
    *Other builders can recognize a competitor's bid a mile away, so they
    decide not waste their time (or provide you with a cursory bid).
    * FD awards bid to Company A.
    * VOILA! Your department just got married in a shotgun wedding.

    Do your homework and remember this throughout the process:

    YOU ARE THE CUSTOMER AND THE APPARATUS BUILDER IS WORKING FOR YOU.

    Good luck in your process.

    C6

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    Has anyone on here used what I have heard it called "reverse bid" purchasing. From what I understand you notify who you want to bid with a basic "what I want and have to have on this apparatus" list (example: 400HP Allison Auto 1250 pump 1000 gallon tank roll up doors ETC ETC ETC) And then the builders ask any needed questions to "tune" it in and then provide you with specs, drawings and most importantly a price. I have even heard of some departments telling the bidding builders there top dollar.

    I can see doing it this way would be easier but not sure about it.

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    I would be more concerned with the distance and quality of the dealer that I would be dealing with than the builder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RES81CUE View Post
    I have even heard of some departments telling the bidding builders there top dollar.
    Quite often this number is not hard to find with any internet skills. Just look up the municipalities meeting minutes or local news sites and someone will have stated the amount appropriated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Quite often this number is not hard to find with any internet skills. Just look up the municipalities meeting minutes or local news sites and someone will have stated the amount appropriated.
    True, I suppose it would be considered public information.

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    Custom Fire
    Marion
    Toyne
    4 Guys
    Rosenbauer (General Div.)
    Seagrave
    Pierce (only if they will build what you want)

    Also recommend a Spartan chassis if you are going to go with a builder of just apparatus bodies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RES81CUE View Post
    Has anyone on here used what I have heard it called "reverse bid" purchasing. From what I understand you notify who you want to bid with a basic "what I want and have to have on this apparatus" list (example: 400HP Allison Auto 1250 pump 1000 gallon tank roll up doors ETC ETC ETC) And then the builders ask any needed questions to "tune" it in and then provide you with specs, drawings and most importantly a price. I have even heard of some departments telling the bidding builders there top dollar.

    I can see doing it this way would be easier but not sure about it.
    That sounds a lot like what we did on our pumper-tanker, which was the first new apparatus we ever bought. It was a learning experience, but that's similar to how we ended up doing it. We had a basic set of "specs" we sent out and allowed some flexibility for whoever bid it.

    We layed out what chassis we would accept (I think it was International, KW, or Peterbilt), what size pump, and things like that. If someone wanted to bid more than one chassis or something, they were welcome to. We actually had one company do just that, sending two different options.

    Our second truck (quick attack) we were a bit more educated on the process, but still did a similar type process. We got a bit more detailed, but not to the degree of what you typically see with a spec they send with the bids.

    Our mindset with establishing minimums was that it allowed some of the manufacturers to show a little of what they could do with things. Some of this ended up working out in our benefit, as we saw some things we didnt' realize could be done.

    It would have been nice if we weren't working on the short grant timeframe, where they want to have the truck bid, built, and delivered within 12 months. I'm on the apparatus committee for my career department, and we spent several months just on the specs of our new aerial and are getting ready to start work on our engine specs for an engine that won't be ordered for at least 6 months.

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    These are some good resource articles on developing apparatus specifications that may be able to assist you. http://www.emergencyvehicleresponse.com/app_ar.php

    There are a lot of reliable apparatus builders out there but you need to make sure that they are building what you want and need not what they want to sell you. Your committee needs to decide what you want, what you need and what you can afford and define those basic parameters up front.

    Your municipal or state government may also already have cooperative purchasing agreements with some of the builders that you are reviewing. In some situations these can save you a considerable amount of money but you are often limited to their basic specifications or program units.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RES81CUE View Post
    Has anyone on here used what I have heard it called "reverse bid" purchasing. From what I understand you notify who you want to bid with a basic "what I want and have to have on this apparatus" list (example: 400HP Allison Auto 1250 pump 1000 gallon tank roll up doors ETC ETC ETC) And then the builders ask any needed questions to "tune" it in and then provide you with specs, drawings and most importantly a price. I have even heard of some departments telling the bidding builders there top dollar.

    I can see doing it this way would be easier but not sure about it.
    Don't do reverse bidding. My department did it on SCBA and we are sorry. Reverse bidding is OK for non service items. For service items it becomes a disease to the bidder. Our league of cities suggested what to be in the end for specs, not counting what the depatment actually wanted. I would not recommend it for ANYTHING service related

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    First of all I think telling the vendor what your top dollar is a mistake. Tell them what you want in the spec and then let them price you the truck. When you tell some of them what your top dollar is they will try and make sure you spend your top dollar.

    What we did was made a rough spec of what we wanted on the truck and sent it to several vendors of our choice. They were informed in a cover letter that this was a rough spec and they were to price us a truck with price break downs of the options that we wanted. We also told them that we would then send them a complete spec at a later date that would be the official bid process. Four of the vendors complied with this. The truck committee then sat down and reviewed these four specs. From there we wrote a spec that was un-bias. We were also able to look at the prices and trim our wish list down to what we could afford. We then sent out the official spec that we had written to all the vendors from the first list. (We didn’t write in the spec that the frame rails had to be a certain thickness or size, compartment size had to be a certain size, and ECT.) There were certain items that we felt that was important and the vendor had to meet or exceed that line item.

    At one time we wanted to have the fleet standardized. That vendor was counting on that and they were the high bidder by about 20,000 dollars. One vendor bid 2 trucks with different cabs and slightly different body’s. We were very surprised by how the bids came out, but we think we got the best truck for our money.

    The final thing I think in specing and buying a truck is the dealer/salesman and how they treat you during the specing and bidding process, it will be an indication on how they will deal with you after the sale. What kind of service center does the dealer have, how good is that service center, and the location of the service center from you should play into the final decision.

    My preferred list of trucks in no certain order.

    KME

    Smeal

    Pierce

    Precision (Camdenton, MO) – A note about these guys is that when you get their customer list it includes every customer that they have ever sold a truck to.

    Best of luck in your seach for a new truck.

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    Pretty much any manufacturer that has a steady 20+ years in the business is going to build you a good truck as long as you make sure the specs are tight to your specific needs. Everyone has built great trucks and everyone has built lemmons. It's just the nature of the beast. Ask anyone on here that has bought "Twins", their never actually identical. (and this dates back to the Mack days too)

    All of the components are the same no matter who you buy from.

    These days fire apparatus are more like lego sets - It's all the same pieces, the quality of the final build depends on who assembles it.

    One of the BIGGEST factors in your process should be the service and support after the sale, both short and long term.

    Sean Desjardins, Captain
    Westampton Township Emergency Services
    http://www.westamptonfire.org

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    Since Smeal has already been suggested I will also have to suggest Sutphen. We have had good luck with both brands over a long period of time. Service after the sale is good from both companies.

    The relationship with the rep and the company is key. Like it has already been mentioned, when they start telling you what you want it's time for you to tell them you want them to leave. As you start working with different reps you will see what I mean. A good rep understands and credits quality work, even if it wasn't produced by his company.

    When we spec'd our last engine we plagiarized the specs off of our custom chassis and the body of off the engine we were modeling this one after. Gave that to the reps, telling them what we did, and requested that after they read them to contact us for a meeting. At that time they would be able to point out builder specific wording, industry upgrades, see what we were trying to create and pitch their product. After meeting with all the reps we produced a performance type spec. For example, we listed a Spartan Gladiator or equivalent. On items we specifically wanted: Hale Q-Max 1,500 gpm pump. No Exceptions. We listed minimum compartment dimensions. As with everything you have to be clear with what you are listing and ensure that all builders understand what you want.

    Once we got the bids back the committee used an evaluation sheet to compare the specs and assign points to each item. For items we listed as "No Exceptions" they either received points or didn't. On compartments they could get the points or if they exceeded our spec they got additional points. Each compartment was evaluated separately. Important or big ticket items were weighted with more points than things like striping. I cannot stress enough how important I feel this evaluation process was. It allows you to fairly and thoroughly compare all the bids and rank them accordingly. This was all done without knowing the price of the apparatus.

    The specs were sent out with instructions that the bidders were to submit two envelopes with the bid, one containing the specs and one containing the price. That allowed the City to meet their requirements for a bid opening without influencing the evaluation. After the evaluation was complete we found out the prices. Although it took about 3 nights to do it was well worth the effort.

    Good luck,
    Walt
    Train like you want to fight.
    www.kvfd.net

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    Quote Originally Posted by rm1524 View Post
    First of all I think telling the vendor what your top dollar is a mistake. Tell them what you want in the spec and then let them price you the truck. When you tell some of them what your top dollar is they will try and make sure you spend your top dollar.
    Another drawback is the bidder may try to give you as little truck as possible for the stated amount.

    Think of like this. You walk into a auto dealer and tell teh salesman you want to purchase a pickup truck, but you can only spend $30,000. Is the sales man going to show you the model with all the options or the basic model? The basic model of course; because the profit margin is greater.

    That is where a tight set of specifications comes into play: You specify what you will accept.

    C6

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    Quote Originally Posted by LT2387 View Post
    Don't do reverse bidding. My department did it on SCBA and we are sorry. Reverse bidding is OK for non service items. For service items it becomes a disease to the bidder. Our league of cities suggested what to be in the end for specs, not counting what the depatment actually wanted. I would not recommend it for ANYTHING service related
    Did you not get the PERFORMANCE that you wanted, or just not the brand you wanted?

    I deal with these type of specs every day at work. They can work very well, but you have to specify the performance that you really need and be sure to include all requirements. It can be time consuming, but doesn't tend to tie you to one manufacturer.

    My guess is that the problem here was with the people writing the spec and the process within your department, NOT with the "reverse bidding" method.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Command6 View Post
    Another drawback is the bidder may try to give you as little truck as possible for the stated amount.

    Think of like this. You walk into a auto dealer and tell teh salesman you want to purchase a pickup truck, but you can only spend $30,000. Is the sales man going to show you the model with all the options or the basic model? The basic model of course; because the profit margin is greater.

    That is where a tight set of specifications comes into play: You specify what you will accept.

    C6
    What kind of sucks with these grants is that they already know how much money you have to spend. However, if they know you're going out and bidding competitively, they're going to have to sharpen their pencils a bit.

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    We just awarded a contract 2 weeks ago. We started with basic list of what we wanted, then sent that to manufacturers we have dealt with and a few others. Each manufacturer that was interested came back with their own version/recommendations. Differences in body materials, body thickness, frame sizes, etc. were (for the most part) what set them apart. Our final spec was a mix of the 3 manufacturers we were happiest with, although it did lean towards 1 more than the other 2. However, that 1 did not win the contract.

    Through our process we "worked" with...

    Crimson
    E-One
    Ferrara
    Pierce
    Seagrave (who switched dealerships during the process and the new Seagrave dealer mostly wanted to talk about Toyne apparatus)
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    As im sure you've already noticed, there are a million different opinions on this subject. Altho it is a great tool to talk to other FF's with what they have and what has worked and what hasn't, it is ultimitly up to you. I was "lucky" enought to be on the speck writing commitee for the last 3 rigs my dept. has purcased. At the time, all 3 heavy rigs (2 engines and a truck) were E-One. As you can imagine, when we sat down at the first meeting it didn't take long for arguments to start about who we should and shouldn't use. I simply stated the obvious... it had been over 10 years since we specked a rig and A LOT has changed not only with NFPA 1901 but the componants and how mfgs. were building and what materials were being used. So we went on a fact finding mission to gain as mutch info as we could on the differences between formed and extruded bodies, the types and different grades of materials used, cab and body construction and so on. We looked at the different componants used by mfgs like steering and the like. They were all pretty mutch the same, we did find that there were some companies that had parts design specific for their apparatus. Just as an exsample... all mfgs offer dana-spicer axels... but Company XYZ has a custom designed axel for their unit, making parts a little harder to come by. Things like that were taken into consideration. We spoke with other FD's and there maintanence personel. We spoke with (and this is a biggie) the dealers for each respective mfg, after all thats who you'll be dealing with after the sale for service. Some were very receptice and gave us tons of info and asked questions...others were "too busy" to be bothered.
    When it came to specking the truck... most of if not all of the homework on the rig itself had been done when we specked the engine... so we concintrated on the aerial itself. Differences between aluminum and steel ladders, jack types, jack spreads, down stroke, setting up on incline and so on.
    What it comes down to is research and what works for you. We did 2 years of reaserach before we wrote the speck on on engine, and just under 4 years for the truck. After all they have to last us a long time and we wanted to get it right the first time, plus have room to evolve the truck with the ever changing fire service.
    The tanker was easier than the enginn and truck. we speced the basics... cab/chassis, elipticle with volume, a foam system and some other little odds and ends.
    When it was all said and done we ended up with E-One building both the engine and the truck, and KME as the builder of the Tanker. Why?
    KME got the tanker becasue of price (15K less than pierce)....as I stated before... if it were up to me... on the next one I would spend the extra money to not get a KME.
    It came down to KME and E-One with the engine...and a huge price difference....if I remember it was around a 100K difference, Oly unlike o nthe tanker KME screwed up becsause there were alot of things they left out of the speck, or bid without bidding exception. The municipaity said no...and E-One it was.
    The truck was pretty cut and dry. After doing the home work, looking at different tillers and compairing steel and aluminum ladders, we decided to stay with the aluminum, however E-One could NOT supply us with the ground ladder compliment we wanted ands itr was looking like Seagrave was going to get the bid. For the amount of time you use the aerial, we were willing to accept a steel ladder so that we could get the ground ladders and equipment we wanted. E-One they ended up re-designing the tiller body to meet our needs, and ultamitly won the speck. We were using the states Co-Star program so we didn't need to go out to bid, but up to that point, thats basicaly what mfgs were doing. Sending us drawings and prices in hope we would choose them as the builder.
    We feel that the years of homework we did paid off, it just turned out that E-One was the best that fit our needs and to date, aside from a few teething problems with new rigs, both have performed flawlessly.... as for the tanker....it's working...for now, just hope nothing breaks because it's like pulling teeth trying to get service on it from KME.
    Hope it helps, and good luck with what ever you get.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    We just awarded a contract 2 weeks ago. We started with basic list of what we wanted, then sent that to manufacturers we have dealt with and a few others. Each manufacturer that was interested came back with their own version/recommendations. Differences in body materials, body thickness, frame sizes, etc. were (for the most part) what set them apart. Our final spec was a mix of the 3 manufacturers we were happiest with, although it did lean towards 1 more than the other 2. However, that 1 did not win the contract.

    Through our process we "worked" with...

    Crimson
    E-One
    Ferrara
    Pierce
    Seagrave (who switched dealerships during the process and the new Seagrave dealer mostly wanted to talk about Toyne apparatus)
    Who did you end up ordering from?

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    We currently have two pieces of apparatus from New Lexington Fire Apparatus which where custom built units. As with many other customers we never anticipated their demise and departure however this is one of the primary reasons for the performance bond requirements. Take your time and evaluate each of the builders that you plan to have bid on this project.

    There have been a lot of reliable builders mentioned on here thus far but another one I would also take a look at is W.S. Darley. We are currently under contract with them for a CAFS Engine on a Spartan chassis with delivery scheduled for later this summer http://www.bruinvfd.com/news.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by RES81CUE View Post
    Who did you end up ordering from?
    E-One. Engine should be in Wildwood this September and here for our 125th Anniversary.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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