River Bend School District got closure Monday on a disaster-filled bleacher project at Fulton High School.
Terry O’Hagan, president of BR Bleachers, the company that was hired to complete the project, made a public apology to the school board Monday.
“My main reason for being here is to apologize,” O’Hagan said. “And I would like to try to make up for the problems and delays in the project.”
At last month’s meeting, the board discussed the project, as the company had not turned in work order forms to get paid for the project. An employee from sub-contractor Fulton Concrete, who worked on the project, approached the board and said he had not been paid for the project. The board was shocked, since they didn’t know a local company was involved.
Superintendent Chuck Holliday and the board tried to communicate with the company by phone and email, but rarely received a response.
The project has had complications from the start. The school district accepted a low bid from BR Bleachers, a company out of Woodstock, Ill., in July. All companies that submitted bids were made aware of the Sept. 9 deadline for the project. The school board met with the contractor and confirmed the deadline. The company later said if they had to do specifications and engineer drawings, the project would be late. The work did not begin until the week of Oct. 31.
O’Hagan addressed the reasons for the delays and problems throughout the project. To begin with, the company had a hard time getting aluminum, since inventories were short due to the economy, according to O’Hagan. He also said the sub-contractor, who performed much of the work, failed to follow specifications. Bleacher materials were stolen during the construction and workers were inconvenienced and delayed during background checks, according to O’Hagan.
“I don’t want to get defensive or make excuses,” O’Hagan said. “The main point is that the customer, the school district, did not get what they wanted. There are thousands of reasons for failure, but no excuse.”
The company made strides to improve from the problems like tearing out an entire concrete ramp and reinstalling it using a landscaper to fix it. They also rush ordered supplies to replace the stolen supplies, according to O’Hagan.
“I would like to continue to support the district with donations,” O’Hagan said. “I felt it was my obligation. It’s the least I could do.”
The board accepted his apology and said they appreciated him coming to the meeting, but gave O’Hagan additional criticism for his lack of communication with the district.
“A big part of being a good business is keeping the customer informed,” board member Mike Ottens said. “There was a communications gap. Phone calls and emails were not returned for a significant period of time. We deserved more communication.”
This was the first time the board had heard about the problems that O’Hagan mentioned that led to delays, due to the lack of communication.
“We understand things go wrong, but when there is no communication, that’s when things really go wrong,” board president Dan Portz said.
O’Hagan said he plans on working with the district in the future to offer several donations.