Closings and delays

City of Greensboro looking into treatment of minority subcontractor

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The City of Greensboro is looking into claims that a general contractor cut a minority subcontractor out of some business in violation of Greensboro's rules regarding minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs).

Ed McKeever, the owner of ECM Builders and an African-American, is listed as a subcontractor for the Gateway Gardens project at East Lee and East Florida Street.

Fabco, the project's general contractor, confirms that another subcontractor did the masonry work for which ECM's bid was accepted.

"I was never notified that the project had begun. I was not allowed to work on the project period. So, this is a sad situation," McKeever said.

Fabco's owner and president Chris Fabrizio said he tried unsuccessfully to get in contact with McKeever after ECM won the bid. He told the City of Greensboro they had switched minority contractors to use a company called Set in Stone out of Stokesdale, owned by Rosalee Rivera.

The problem for the City and Ed McKeever: Fabco did not notify either, and the work has already been completed.

In the case of McKeever, Fabrizio said Fabco could not get in touch with ECM.

"I do not know why we could not get up with ECM. I really don't know why. We did try," Fabrizio said.

McKeever doesn't buy that explanation, saying he gave his phone numbers and email to Fabco and to the city and that he could easily be contacted.

Assistant City Manager David Parrish said Fabco should have made it known that it had switched contractors.

"If they state that they're using a contractor, and that's part of their percentage, then yes, the expectation is that they use that bidder," Parrish said.

Parrish said the City will consider withholding a percentage of the project's payout or excluding Fabco from future city business if it finds Fabco has done something wrong.

"If we recognize this as not being responsive then yes he will not be allowed either indefinitely or for a foreseeable time to be a responsible bidder for our contracts," Parrish said.

Fabrizio said the city's policy can make it difficult for a general contractor to do business.

"I'm a small company. I have to fight and scratch like everybody else. So I think we all ought to be on a level playing field and be done with it," Fabrizio said.