Fix the pumps

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The best choice for the job?

I just wanted follow up on my earlier post about the frequency changers. I have learned that the job has been subcontracted to Bollinger Quick Repair.

The entire Bollinger family of companies, which is quite large and plays a sizable role in the local economy, has had manpower problems since the storm. That is a primary reason they were not able to follow as aggressive a schedule on their pump station motor rewindings (stations 2, 3, 5, and 7) as Evans Enterprises of Oklahoma was able to on theirs (stations 1 & 6, which have been complete since August by virtue of 24/7 work by Evans). In fact, there are still two or three motors remaining to be rewound, one in station 2 and one or two in station 5. That's not a slam on Bollinger, just reality in the post-Katrina workplace around New Orleans. Also, work on those remaining motors has been suspended while the roofs at both stations were under repair, work that it fast approaching its completion.

And I'm certainly not making up this idea of manpower shortages. Here's the head of Bollinger himself, Donald Bollinger, talking about that very thing at a workboat trade show yesterday, as reported in today's Times-Picayune:
"When I wake up in the morning, I'm thinking, 'Where are we going to get enough people,' " Bollinger said. "And when I go to bed at night, it's still on my mind."

"Our customers were extremely frustrated with our inability to stand up a work force," Bollinger said. "Obviously, it's not the ideal way to operate."

One has to wonder, considering - a) that the duration of the frequency changer work at station 17 doubled from 6 months to 12 months, b) that the work was not publicly advertised, and c) knowing that Bollinger is behind on a lot of work - whether the fix was in to give Bollinger the work no matter what. They would seem to be an odd choice, when there are many, many other companies from outside the region who have not suffered any ill effects from Katrina because, well, they're outside the region. Also, Evans was told by the Corps they had done excellent work on the motor rewindings and would be given strong consideration for the frequency changer work.

My only point is that, once again, there seem to be other factors at work besides getting the work done as expeditiously as possible.


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