ASHLAND — No one wants to sell Ashland County a stack conveyor — or there’s something else going on.
Ashland County Engineer Ed Meixner expects the latter.
Thursday marked the second bid opening where there were no bids to read. The county originally advertised its need for an estimated $200,000 portable, radial stack conveyor machine — used to stack stones and sand used to produce asphalt — in November.
The first bid opening was held Dec. 16. When zero companies submitted a bid, commissioners were forced to advertise for another bid and scheduled the bid opening for Thursday.
“And again we have no bids,” Meixner said. “The last time, I thought there was a bid out somewhere in somebody’s truck, whether it was FedEx or the post office. That did not happen to be the case. This time, I do believe it’s the case. But that doesn’t really help, we don’t have any bids to open.”
Meixner has submitted information to seven vendors, all of which are headquartered out of Ohio. The head engineer said he believes two of the vendors have an interest.
One of them includes TCI Manufacturing, a company based in Walnut, Ill. — a village situated about 130 miles west of Chicago.
“I believe that there is a bid (from TCI) out in a postal truck in this moment somewhere,” he said.
Meixner said another company, Mallet & Company, has expressed interest in submitting a bid but that they didn’t have enough time to put together a bid. The manufacturer is based out of a borough just west of Pittsburgh.
The engineer suggested commissioners extend the bid deadline a week to give the company from Pennsylvania time to put something together and send it to Ashland through the mail.
Meixner said the situation is something he hasn’t experienced in his 30 years with the county. He suspects it is a symptom of the pandemic, noting that TCI told him they had some “personnel changes” that possibly led to missing last month’s deadline.
“I don’t know for sure what’s going on. Each company has their own individual problems and situations, so I’m speculating,” he said.
Nikki Hiller, the commissioners’ clerk, said companies typically choose other services, such as FedEx or UPS to send bids, she said. TCI chose to use USPS to send its bid.
The U.S. Postal Service announced in October that mail delivery will slow in order to slash costs. The postal service’s current three-day delivery standard for first-class mail — including letters, bills, tax documents and public bidding documents — dropped to five days starting Oct. 1.
“Mail traveling the greatest distances will be most affected, with a day or two of transit time added for some First-Class Mail and Periodicals,” reads a service alert from USPS.
Meanwhile, the county’s engineering department continues to use one of its two conveyor stacking machines. The other busted beyond repair last spring, Meixner said.
“We can get by,” through repairing the one that still works, he said. There are just more logistics involved in determining where and how the lone machine can be used on a daily basis.
Still, Meixner hopes to receive at least one or two bids next Thursday.
“Companies all across the country are having trouble keeping people staffed and things running smoothly as they used to. Whether it’s the post office or whether it’s the manufacturing company or whether it’s county government — we’re all seeing that effect,” he said.