An alliance between the city of Tucson, Ariz., and Toro has made it quicker and easier for the city to obtain park maintenance equipment, training and service at best value.

The Tucson Parks and Recreation Department maintains more than 110 public parks and five public golf courses. Typically, purchases for park maintenance equipment have been made on an as-needed basis using the invitation-for-bid (IFB) method. This means that there is no consideration given to factors other than price; there is no consideration given to volume discounts or to the services that a vendor can provide.

With the IFB approach, the city of Tucson ended up with many different brands of products, which led to operational and maintenance inefficiencies. The approach also did not allow for a strategic alliance with experts who could point out where the city could make improvements to its operations.

In summary, the city was not employing a best-practices approach in its acquisition of park maintenance equipment.

Realizing the benefits of long-term strategic sourcing, and hoping that agencies nationwide also would be interested in a strategic alliance, the city of Tucson partnered with National Intergovernmental Purchasing Alliance (National IPA) and embarked upon a thorough request for proposal (RFP) for park maintenance equipment. National IPA is a cooperative purchasing organization established through a collaborative effort of public agencies across the United States with the specific purpose of reducing procurement costs by leveraging group volume.

Officials at National IPA and the city of Tucson were excited about the opportunity to create a national contract for park maintenance equipment.

City negotiated aggressive pricing

Through the RFP process, the city of Tucson was able to consider the innovation and technology of equipment. The city also was able to consider the local and national availability of services and parts; training and educational services; and the ability to supply and service equipment.

The process allowed for price negotiations, and with a projected volume that was based on national usage, the city successfully negotiated very aggressive pricing. The result is a five-year contract awarded solely to Bloomington, Minn.-based Toro.

Ray Valdez, senior contract officer for the city, was pleased with the source-selection process.

“The RFP process is more and more becoming the preferred method for purchasing commodities that have typically been purchased via the ‘low-bid’ IFB method,” Valdez said. “Through the RFP process, we were able to obtain a better perspective on what products, services and resources were available from each offeror.”

A mutually beneficial arrangement

The customer — the Parks and Recreation Department — is thoroughly pleased with the partnership with Toro. According to Frank Barajas, a maintenance shop supervisor, the Toro contract:

  • Streamlines the ordering process.
  • Minimizes delivery time.
  • Minimizes the amount of inventory in the shop, as parts now arrive via next-day delivery.
  • Provides warranty service in one to two days.
  • Provides technical advice on new equipment.
  • Provides educational resources on equipment operation and maintenance, and athletic turf maintenance and care.
  • Offers innovative products to improve facility maintenance operations.
  • Guarantees durability and dependability in equipment life.
  • Assists in renewable-energy and emission-reduction goals through the use of biodiesel in all diesel equipment.

“The single biggest benefit to Tucson City Golf with the new Toro Co. contract is the customer service that is provided by the Toro Co.,” said Mike Hayes, deputy parks director/golf operations.

Toro is pleased with the alliance as well.

“The city of Tucson's contract with Toro is an example of best-practices procurement at its finest,” said Peter Whitacre, CSE, district sales manager for Toro. “With our partnership, we can better understand the city's needs as they relate to equipment procurement, maintenance, operating practices, safety and management initiatives, and make recommendations that will result in efficiencies in these areas.”

Along with aggressive discounts, the city of Tucson's agreement with Toro includes a Free Goods Dollar Program offering credit toward future purchases of new Toro equipment based on current purchase volume. The program is unique and is not offered through any other Toro agreement.

The city and Toro kicked off the relationship with a “field day” that consisted of training on equipment operation and turf maintenance practices. Surrounding communities were invited to attend so they could benefit from Toro's expertise as well.

Toro's motto is “count on it,” and agencies nationwide can count on this contract to meet their park and maintenance equipment needs.


About the authors

Ray Valdez, CPPB, is a senior contract officer for the city of Tucson Procurement Department. He has worked in public procurement for nine years. Valdez is a member of the NIGP Arizona Copper Chapter.

Mike Hayes, deputy parks director/golf operations for the Tucson Parks and Recreation Department, has more than 25 years of experience in the golf industry, with the last nine years served at the city of Tucson. Recently, he was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame.

How to participate

To use the city of Tucson contract with Toro via National IPA, visit http://www.nationalipa.org and submit a participation form via the “Participate Now!” button, or contact National IPA at info@nationalipa.org.

To view other National IPA contracts awarded via a thorough RFP best-practices approach, visit the National IPA Web site and click on “Agreements.”

For more information on the park equipment RFP process, contact Ray Valdez, senior contract officer for the city of Tucson, at 520-837-4129 or ray.valdez@tucsonaz.gov.