Project to upgrade heat pump system at two Kandiyohi County buildings goes forward with $2.1M bid award

The Kandiyohi County Board awarded Lake Country Mechanical the contract to upgrade the heat pump system at both the county Law Enforcement Center and Health and Human Services Building.

Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services building
The Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building and the Law Enforcement Center located across the street both use heat pumps to heat and cool the buildings. The County Board on Dec. 1 awarded the contract to replace those pumps to Lake Country Mechanical.
West Central Tribune file photo
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WILLMAR — The heat pumps that heat and cool the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building and the Law Enforcement Center in Willmar will be replaced over the next year and a half. The County Board on Dec. 1 awarded the contract to Lake Country Mechanical of Spicer.

Lake Country's low bid for the project was $2,106,000, which was over the engineer's estimate of $1.8 million.

"I'll be honest, I was pretty pleased" with the bids, due to the highly volatile nature of the economy right now, said Chad Hansen of Martin Mechanical Design, who engineered the project for the county.

There were only two bidders, with the second bid coming from Chappel Central of Willmar.

The county has been planning for this major facilities project since 2021. Like any heating and cooling system, heating pumps do eventually give out. Over the last few years, the county has been spending tens of thousands of dollars a year on replacing individual pumps when they give out.


While the pumps at the HHS building are older, the ones at the LEC are giving out faster because they are in use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Andy Thorson, county facility maintenance director.

"We are trying to get everything the same" at both facilities, Thorson said.

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There was some contention with the bidding of the project because of a change to the plan after the bids were reviewed. Additional work is needed to integrate the new heat pumps into the existing automation systems in the two buildings.

"We did realize that there was going to be a couple of changes that would have to be made right away in the project," resulting in a change order, Hanson said.

Based on discussions with Thorson, Hanson had recommended the County Board reject the bids and rebid the project to avoid starting with a change order.

"I am fine with either contractor, I just wanted to be up front" about the changes, Thorson said.

Hanson said Lake Country still believes it can do the work and under what the other bidder had presented. Lake Country estimated the extra work would add between $15,000 to $30,000 to the cost, Hanson said.

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The board decided to go ahead and award the bid to Lake Country Mechanical to keep the project moving forward and to support the bid process of the county.


"You have a bidding process, they bid on it as we requested, we should honor that," said Commissioner Corky Berg.

When Thorson requested to go out for bids for the heat pump project back in October, he said construction would begin as soon as materials arrived. The project should be totally completed by June 2024.

"This is a big project, this is a major project," said County Administrator Larry Kleindl, at the Oct. 18 board meeting.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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