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Gafcon, Vanir dissolve partnership, pull out of SDUSD construction contract

Gafcon Inc. and Vanir Construction Management Inc. are terminating their joint-venture partnership, and with it are resigning from a $12 million contract with the San Diego Unified School District.

In a letter obtained by The Daily Transcript, signed by Gafcon Chief Executive Officer and co-Owner Yehudi Gaffen and Vanir Principal Mansour Aliabadi, and addressed to Joanne Pilgrim, SDUSD facilities contract supervisor, it was written that a recent change in the partnership between Gafcon and Vanir will affect the three-year, $12 million contract with SDUSD and the “joint-venture between our firms, through which we secured the work with the district, will be dissolved.”

The letter also stated that when the two companies began to develop their joint marketing and operational plans with their customers and prospects throughout California, they learned that they had “different ideas on how these plans would be realized and managed over the long term.”

“The partnership isn’t working internally. It’s not a good marriage," Gaffen said in a telephone interview. "Sometimes you find out you are not a good couple months later and you have to call it quits.”

Aliabadi, also in a phone interview, said “sometimes you find out you are too similar and the partnership doesn’t work.” He added that “there is no hostility or animosity toward Gafcon.”

No SDUSD officials returned phone calls to comment on the story.

Gafcon fully expects the contract to be canceled.

The Gafcon-Vanir joint venture was created in April 2011 and was hired in November 2011 after SDUSD staff recommended the joint venture be awarded the contract based on its resume and an extensive interview process.

Ten proposals were received by the Aug. 18, 2011 deadline and were evaluated for best value, including technical ability and price structure, by an evaluation committee. Six categories were scored with a possible total of 100 points. Four of the firms were ranked as non-responsive by the evaluating panel.

The firms were short-listed based on their ranking by the screening panel, and were interviewed by district staff. The interviews consisted of a 10-minute firm presentation followed by a 35-minute question and answer period.

The contract with the district included construction management and support services for the district’s $2.1 billion Proposition S construction bond program, a measure passed by voters in 2008 to improve district schools.

Gaffen said his company originally thought partnering up would be good since Vanir is headquartered in Sacramento and could establish a presence in Northern California. Aliabadi said Gafcon had technical capabilities that his firm valued and was the reason Vanir wanted to work with Gafcon. Vanir has an office in San Diego.

Gaffen and Aliabadi both believe that the contract will be rebid and both said they would bid separately on it.

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