INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indianapolis Equal Opportunity Contract Compliance Committee has continued until next month an appeal by a Greenwood trucking firm that it be awarded minority and women-owned business status in order to receive a leg up when it comes to bidding on city hauling contracts.
The Office of Minority & Women Business Development denied the status to DWD Trucking based on what it determined was a too cozy relationship with the trucking firm’s primary lender of $6 million that allowed it to expand its business almost overnight.
“At this point it is our belief that DWD cannot break their independence off from Howard Management,” said Fahad Beg, Senior Manager of MWBD. “It is also our belief that this firm would not be viable in its course of business without the relationship, affiliation and reliance of Howard Management.”
DaNae Spangler told the committee that she began DWD with a friend and two trucks and less than $15,000 in personal stock investment in 2016.
Within a year, funding from Howard Management allowed DWD to buy more than 30 trucks and become a significant hauling contractor for state and local projects as well as private developers.
Spangler said denial of minority and women contract bidding status would have a significant impact on her company.
“Does that come into play on whether DWD is awarded a job or not? Yes, I think that certainly weighs on the minds of the contractors that I solicit.”
Indianapolis sets minority participation goals when soliciting bids for contracts for city work such as at the airport, the new community justice center or roadwork.
Contractors are asked to reach a goal of 15 percent of the contract’s total for minority firms, eight percent for a company owned by a woman, one percent for a disabled person and three percent for a veteran.
Minority trucking company owners told CBS4 that the system has been rigged against small operators as large firms set up front companies to attain favored minority status.
“I think with some of the companies, when they been in business a little bit, they certify their wives or something and get them the status so they can do both and work on the projects and get the money that’s supposed to be going out to the minority firms,” said Carol Ward whose company has seven trucks. “I think we’re losing business. I think if we got more opportunities and they shut down some of these front companies I think we would have a better shake at it.”
One trucking company owner said he had been approached by larger firms to act as a front company so that the contractor could claim to be a minority company in seeking a public bid.
“If you look at who’s doing the trucking around here, most of the firms are either a front company or white women-owned company. They’re not black owned companies and that’s where I have a problem with this,” he said. “So that particular company that is put in front of the contractor is basically a front company for someone else who has 50, 60, 70 trucks.”
The owner did not want to be identified for fear of being excluded from future sub-contracts by bigger trucking firms if he was quoted speaking out against what he perceives as abuses of the current system.