K-12 Blog

The Season of Bids

Posted: May 12, 2014

A message from Gary Vonck,

Spring has arrived and the weather is changing; in K-12, it is the “Season of Bids”.

Like spring, we know that every year at this time, bids start flowing in and the volume builds dramatically, reaching its pinnacle in June and slowly tapering off until August. The people who process bids for brokers, distributors and manufacturers are some of the most hardworking, passionate and committed individuals that I have ever met. No one thanks them for the 99% of the pricing they have processed, but usually they get reamed for that 1% that is still outstanding. I understand that 100% completed is necessary, and so do they, and there are reasons why some pricing takes longer. Thank you to all those dedicated people; we couldn’t do it without you!

The biggest challenge we face across this great land is the inconsistent format and processes on the bids themselves. Many bids have had the same items and quantities for the last few years and as we all know, many, if not most items have been reformulated and menus have changed. Accuracy is critical; many manufacturers and distributors use those numbers for forecasting purposes. The more accurate the numbers, the more efficient the supply chain is.

One of the fallacies is that if one puts a larger quantity on the bid, one will get a better price – not so. Usage reports and distributor trackers have brought clarity to real volume. The real factors that cause pricing to go up and down are accurate and timely Bid Awards and forecasts. The lack thereof creates an atmosphere of guessing, incorrect quantities, out-of-stocks and over-stocks. Those costs get reflected in the pricing from all angles.

It amazes me that in today’s electronic age, schools are still sending hard copies of bids through the snail mail and having hard copies sent in return. I hope that one day, all districts will post their bids on their website, receive bids back via their website and follow that up with posting all Bid Awards on their website. If you want better pricing, transparency and real time information should and will get you there. I know the rebuttal is, “…but not all districts have websites,” and I say, “most do.” Those districts should update their processes.

As a broker, we are held accountable for providing bid awards back to our manufacturers on a timely basis. This is required to confirm award and pricing and set forecasting for the school year. Without this, it becomes a guessing game and that’s where the efficiencies break down. Many schools, but not all, forward awards to distributors; the broker needs to be in the loop on this.

One great tool that is out there to help is the SNA Procurement Toolkit . It offers great guidance on timing, structure and format of bids and RFPs.

Now through July 16th, send us your bid awards electronically or bring your results to Booth 1539 at the ANC and you will be entered to win an iPad. The drawing will take place at the ANC at the conclusion of the exhibits.

Have a great bid season and let us know how we can assist.


Gary D. Vonck
KeyImpact Sales & Systems, Inc.
SNA Industry Representative

About the Author:


Gary Vonck

VP - Education Division

Gary Vonck has been with KeyImpact since 2007, adding to an impressive 40-year foodservice career. His knowledge and passion for child nutrition are unsurpassed. Gary oversees the Education Division, which includes sales, bid, and commodity teams across the entire nation.

Gary is an active member of the SNA and was the first and only broker/agency representative on the School Nutrition Association’s Industry Advisory Board, as the appointed Industry Representative, in 2008 and again 2014. Gary has also served on numerous SNA Task Forces and co-chaired several SNA events. Gary was also on the NSFMI national advisory council. In January 2013, Gary was awarded the Silver Friend of Child Nutrition FAME Award.

Gary Vonck is based in Illinois and can be reached at gvonck@kisales.com.