MANSFIELD -- David Barnhart said he and Ryan Lykins are prepared for Westinghouse, one of the biggest jobs in their four-year old company's history.
"We're ready for it," said the co-owner of R&D Excavating of Crestline, which on Thursday was awarded a nearly $4 million contract to demolish and remediate one of the longest-standing industrial eyesores in the city.
The Richland County Land Bank unanimously awarded the bid.
A 2006 Shelby High School graduate who now lives in the Crestview Local School District, Barnhart said he and Lykins launched the company in 2018 and remain owner-operators of the firm's heavy equipment.
"We started out by bidding on some Crawford County Land Bank jobs," Barnhart said Thursday afternoon. "They were unsure of us at first. They gave us two or three houses to demolish and we got them down."
He said the company then started accepting work from the Richland County Land Bank and have done "about 300 houses" in Mansfield in the last few years.
Demolition of the former Wilbur H. Flippin Community Action Center building on Annadale Avenue in Mansfield are among contracts R&D has earned.
R&D has also expanded its operations around Ohio and into other states as the company grew. Barnhart said R&D has been working to bring down the nearly 600,000 square-foot Cooper Energy building in Springfield, Ohio.
The familiarity and trust in R&D helped the Land Bank accept the company's $3,995,000 bid to demolish and clean up the former industrial sites that have sat idle for more than three decades.
The bid acceptance is contingent upon the approval of the Ohio Department of Development, which has provided a $3 million grant for the project.
The contract includes demolishing and cleaning up the former "A" building at 200 Fifth St.; the adjoining 13-acre concrete slab; and a nearby vacant building, most recently owned by Electrolux, based in North Carolina.
R&D was one of four bids below the $4 million available for the project, including $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds from Richland County commissioners and Mansfield City Council.
R&D was the only one of those four that's from Ohio. Others were from Michigan, Illinois and Canada.
The Land Bank's executive committee examined 11 bids submitted for the project. Those bids were opened on July 29.
The meeting to open the bids came 17 days after representatives from more than two dozen companies participated in a "mandatory walkthrough" of the site that Land Bank Manager Amy Hamrick said was intended ensure companies knew "exactly what they are getting into if they take this project on."
R&D was the only north central Ohio company to bid on the work, which is expected to begin this fall. There were two bids from other Ohio contractors outside the county and eight from outside the state, including the Canadian company.
The lowest bid was for $2.8 million and the highest was for $7.1 million.
During the full Land Bank board meeting Thursday, the organization's attorney, Jon Burton, went over the four bids that came in at $4 million or less.
Burton said the executive committee identified flaws and/or concerns with the three other bids and then highlighted R&D's proposal, which he said provided the "best and most responsive" bid.
One of the keys is the the fact R&D was the only Ohio contractor who submitted a proposal within the Land Bank's price range.
Officials have said that the ODOD, while not ruling out non-Ohio contractors, prefer that state grant money be spent on "local" businesses.
"We don't believe there's an outright prohibition on using out-of-state contractors, but there requires additional hurdles and that the guidelines strongly favor, Ohio contractors," Land Bank board member and Richland County Commissioner Tony Vero said.
Vero helped launch a year ago the effort to finally demolish and clean up the site that's sat idle since Westinghouse ended local operations in 1990, saying, "I think it's time we start looking at doing some things.'"
The demolition and remediation could clear the way for future redevelopment of the site on the city's east side.
Burton said R&D was the only contractor under consideration with which the Land Bank has experience and that the company has a "good and trusted working relationship" with the Land Bank.
He said R&D submitted all required documentation with its bid and also pointed out the company "rarely requests change orders," a crucial component since the Land Bank has $4 million for the project.
"I think it's clear in looking at the facts, that R&D is the logical choice for all the facts that were presented to the board and to the executive committee," Vero said.
"These are Ohio dollars, intended to be spent on Ohio companies and Ohio contractors. So that wasn't the only determining factor, but that was a very important factor in our decision," Vero said.
"They have done a project of this size. They're not as big as some of these other companies, but they have done a project of this size. We've checked into it and they did it well," Vero said.
"They can handle this," he said.