Sangamon Co. (ECWd) -
During the Illinois State Police criminal investigation involving the Rochester Fire Protection District and their business transactions with a company, A.E.C., owned by the Fire Chief John Archer, "Archer stated the prices AEC is selling equipment to the Rochester Fire Protection District are better than prices they could get anywhere else."
According to the ISP report, Archer also stated: "When the Captains would call AEC for a price, they were not directly dealing with Archer the would get the price from whichever salesman was at the showroom."
Such statements beg a follow up to determine if it is true in light of the fact the Fire Protection District was unable to produce more than a single quote during a three year period.
What did Trustee Riggs tell the ISP about pricing and what did ISP outline in their report?
- The captains get competitive bids before making purchases
- AEC usually has the best price.
- Riggs thinks AEC has the best prices that they could get.
We exposed Trustee Riggs's false statements in this article as it relates to bids. If they can't produce bids, how would he know A.E.C has the best price? One would expect there would have been a follow-up investigation on pricing to see if the claimed pricing was in fact the best. Our follow up proves Riggs' claims false. See below.
What did Captain Sunderland tell the ISP about purchasing and what did ISP outline in their report?
- Sunderland didn’t compare prices when buying the fuel because AEC had it locally and it was something they needed right away.
- He would also purchase gloves for new members from AEC.
- They did not keep quotes they had found from other companies. It was mostly just comparing other prices online.
- Sunderland doesn’t know if there is another vendor who has this fuel locally.
- If he grabbed the last can of fuel he would call AEC and ask for five more 2 cycle fuel cans
- When making purchases with AEC Sunderland would typically just ask John Archer or another member, Brady Reim, to pick up some fuel.
If the President Trustee is under the belief competitive bids are obtained before making purchases, and the very person in charge of purchasing confirms not getting prices when buying fuel, that alone points to a disconnect. Sunderland claimed he didn't compare prices because it was something they needed right away. That statement doesn't hold water in light of the fact he said when he would grab the last fuel can he would ask for more. Having that last can points to a need for ordering more but not a need to have it right away as you still have that last can.
If Sunderland is in charge of purchasing how can he not know if there is another vendor who has this fuel locally when he claimed his quotes were mostly just comparing other prices online? The fuel mix in question was being purchased from A.E.C. for $7.50 a quart in November of 2019. Interesting is the fact Sunderland claimed he would contact A.E.C. and ask for five more cans yet the invoice reflects the November purchase was for an 8 Pack. Who made the decision to include three more cans into the purchase? How does that price compare to other local vendors who also sell 50:1 fuel mix in quart cans?
- Menards in Springfield: $3.98, $5.97, $6.49, $7.97, and two others that do not show an online price but is sold in the store.
- Lowes: $7.19 if purchased in bulk (6 cans)
- Farm & Home Supply: $4.99 and $5.99 a quart
- Tractor Supply Company: $4.99, $5.99, and $7.99
- True Value: $7.49 or $5.99 if purchased by the gallon rather than a quart
We note that not only were we able to find multiple vendors locally to purchase this fuel from, but they all also had prices considerably less than what A.E.C. was charging them. That points to the claim of best pricing not being true.
Also of interest is Chief Archer's claim that when the Captains would call to place an order they were not dealing with him but rather a salesman in the showroom. As pointed in the ISP reports, Captain Southerland and Captain Polley would just ask or call John Archer to pick up what they needed. So who do we believe, the Chief who said they were not directly dealing with him or the two Captains that say they dealt with him directly?
What did Captain Polley tell the ISP about purchasing and what did ISP outline in their report?
- Polley is known as the tightwad on the department and is always looking for the best price.
- Sometimes Polley will just call John Archer or another member that works at AEC and tell them to pick up something small like a pair of gloves.
If Polley is known as the tightwad maybe he should be getting actual quotes and doing more research to ensure that they are truly getting the best price.
John Archer claimed, "The nearest fire equipment stores are in Peoria, St. Louis and Chicago". How convenient to not disclose a fire equipment company only 44 miles away, Mac's Fire & Safety in Litchfield.
We obtained some quotes for equipment purchased by Rochester FPD from A.E.C. to see how they compared to the claims A.E.C was the best price. We found the claim to be false at a minimum. Below, items in red were the lower price and you will see, in a brief review of only 6 items, A.E.C. only provided a better price for 3 of the 6 items.
Quotes vs A.E.C charge
- H41PSNBFH-LG HOOD -$110.00 A.E.C price $109.00
- RES-Q-RENCH SPAN25 - $17.00 A.E.C price $21.00
- 804176-03 LOWER STRAP - $21.00 A.E.C. price $27.00
- DJ25WB 2.5 X 50 HOSE - $130.00 A.E.C price $144.00
- FDXL100 FIRE DEX BOOT -$295.00 A.E.C price $281.00
- G2LLG DEX PRO GLOVE $90.00 A.E.C price $83.00
As we continue sifting through the misrepresentations made during this investigation, two statements by Chief Archer simply don't hold water.
When he's doing business with the department came up during one of the trustee meetings Archer replied that he was not personally benefitting according to the ISP report. How on earth can the owner of a company that is doing business with the Fire Department claim he is not benefitting from that business? The other odd statement came from the ISP investigation report: "He does not make a commission on sales" (Archer). While Archer may not make a commission in the common definition of that word, it's clear the business makes money from the sale and he owns the company. To imply he makes no commission ignores the fact the company he owns profits from the sales.
As anyone willing to read the facts and investigate the claims being made can see, the truth appears to be much different than what the ISP was told.
Stay tuned for the next article that will share the 10 years of A.E.C invoices from Pawnee FPD where Archer was the Assistant Chief.