Ohio company wins Pentagon contract over German firm

By MALIA RULON, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - A northern Ohio company has been selected over a German company for a $1 million contract to coat the Pentagon's outer walls with a sealer, Rep. Steve LaTourette said Thursday.

The Defense Department had initially awarded the contract to the German firm KEIM Mineral Systems, but LaTourette complained that a company in his hometown of Madison, Ohio, makes an identical sealer that is cheaper and just as good.

The Defense Department asked an independent engineering firm to review the two products and agreed to rebid the contract.

In a letter to LaTourette, the program manager for the Pentagon Renovation Project said the Ohio-based ChemMasters Specialty Construction Co. would be asked to supply the 42,000 gallons of sealer needed for the job.

"I am confident that the selection represents the best value for the government," program manager Michael R. Sullivan said.

The sealer soaks into concrete or sandstone, providing a protective layer against salt, rain or other elements. It's impervious to mildew and won't fade, peel or blister.

ChemMasters has been making its sealer, called Colorsil, for about 10 years. It has been used on a terra-cotta walkway at the White House, and on buildings at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Company president Hank Vavrik said the contract will provide steady work for the company as the renovation project continues.

"We are in a difficult manufacturing economy right now, so this will give us an opportunity to have a successful year," Vavrik said, adding that it also will protect jobs.

Company officials will travel to Washington on Friday to finalize the contract, which would mean a first shipment by the end of this month and application to begin on Sept. 3, Vavrik said.

"It took a lot of guts for this small company to take on the Pentagon, and the Pentagon deserves a great deal of praise for taking the time to review this and make sure the process was fair," LaTourette said.

The $700 million Pentagon renovation project is to be complete by 2010. Workers are restoring the part of the Pentagon damaged in the 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as replacing and upgrading other parts of the 583-acre complex.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)