“My Vendor Was A Killer”

The following is a personal story about my experience in working for a property management company and experiencing firsthand the negative results of not screening vendors before using them.

In the Spring of 2007, I was working as an admin for a Miami-based property management firm that was commencing renovations on a newly acquired Class-A commercial property in Las Colinas, Texas.  It was already a gorgeous property, yet vendors from all over the DFW Metroplex had submitted bids for contract work on a patio installment, elevator cab remodel, and a new exercise facility exclusively for tenant use.

I remember one afternoon the management office received a disturbing phone call from in-house security conveying that a homicide had occurred in one of the two buildings on our property.  Authorities and emergency personnel were contacted immediately and the building went on lock down. Time seemed to stand still as I frantically dialed my mom to inform her that I wasn’t permitted to tell her what the nature of my call was, but that I might be home late (or not at all), and not to worry.

After the initial chaos died down, pieces of the story of what occurred began to unravel.  In the midst of the new tenant exercise facility build-out, a subcontractor had bludgeoned another subcontractor with a paint extender pole in a fit of rage during a dispute.  Luckily the perpetrator voluntarily turned himself in to security, but there was a period of time during which no one in the building knew whether there were additional suspects, murder weapons, or immediate threats.  Calling around to source the “best” bio hazard clean up company was an experience I don’t harbor fond memories of.

It appears nearly impossible to find any record of these events, which makes perfect sense since the property manager instructed everyone in the building not to leak any information to the press.  The construction of the gym went on as planned and was completed not long after this horrible and ultimately avoidable tragedy occurred.  Had property management implemented some kind of vendor screening by running an initial background check on the perpetrator prior to hiring him, it likely would have been apparent that he had a criminal history of violence and would be a liability to the impending project.  Perhaps his employer had neglected to look into his employee’s past as well.

This is a pretty extreme case of how lack of a vendor screening process can have negative consequences when outsourcing a project, but is a true story to be learned from.  A vendor can look like a reasonably good deal at first, but having an objective process in selecting the right one is the safest decision you can make for your company.

Written By: Jean Vosburgh

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