Northwest Computer secures state cartridge contract

Public-sector agreement will mean up to $2 million in new business to local company

    Northwest Computer was recently awarded a contract worth up to $2 million by the state of Washington to provide the state with remanufactured toner cartridges for use in printers, copiers and fax machines over the next two years.
   The Bellingham computer company will service customers buying products through Central Stores, an organization affiliated with the Department of General Administration, Office of State Procurement. Central Stores provides a variety of services, including purchasing, warehousing, distribution, Internet ordering, customer service, catalog production, computer services and training.
   The organization’s customers include state agencies, school districts, cities and counties, and qualifying nonprofit organizations. Central Stores distributes about 2,000 different commodities from a 56,000-square-foot warehouse located in Tumwater and ships the bulk of these goods using its own fleet of trucks on a weekly basis to Eastern and Western Washington.
   As part of the contract, Northwest Computer will offer pickup and delivery services of the cartridges for Central Stores, meaning it will collect and deliver cartridges to the organization, and Central Stores will then distribute those cartridges to customers.
   The company will also participate in a joint marketing campaign with Central Stores to expand the remanufacturing program’s reach, an effort that includes providing personnel for a toll-free direct ordering line for Central Stores customers and a Web-based online order site.
   Ethan D’Onofrio, vice president in charge of business development with Northwest Computer, said he was very pleased with the contract, which was signed May 15 and starts this month.
   “We were able to show (the state) that we can build a cartridge for less money, but more importantly a much higher-quality cartridge,” D’Onofrio said. “We’ve had excellent success with them. And the good thing, of course, is that because it’s a recycled cartridge, it’s not going in a landfill, which is essentially what happens when people throw them out.”
   Northwest Computer competed with nearly 300 other companies and individuals for the contract, including computer industry giants Office Depot, OfficeMax, Lexmark and Hewlett-Packard, D’Onofrio said.
   The company has a remanufacturing facility at their Bellingham location on Cornwall that has been growing rapidly over the last couple of years, D’Onofrio said.
   “The nice thing about this bid was that a huge portion of it was dependent upon what our remanufacturing process looks like,” he said. “There was a tremendous amount of legwork that had to be done on our part to describe what our quality control looks like, and what our remanufacturing looks like.”
   “We have an extraordinarily strong remanufacturing department,” said Northwest Computer’s Shannon McGuire, who worked closely with the state on the contract. “To be contenders and to be awarded (the contract) was wonderful.”
   According to the company Web site, by the end of 2005, Northwest Computer was selling more refurbished cartridges than name-brand cartridges. A major reason Northwest Computer decided to get into the remanufactured cartridge business was because the industry wasn’t strong, D’Onofrio said.
   “Looking around, there wasn’t really a good option out there to buy good, reliable remanufactured cartridges,” D’Onofrio said. “We thought to ourselves, here’s a way to be green, do something good for the environment.”
   The contract also shows that Northwest Computer can swim with the bigger fish in the pond, D’Onofrio said.
   “Winning the state contract was kind of a validation that, yes, our process is in fact better than everybody else’s,” D’Onofrio said. “We can be competitive and get a good cartridge out."


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