For the first time, the City of Portland today exercised its enforcement authority under state law and fined the owners of a Portland painting company for fraudulently obtaining certification as a woman-owned business to win City construction subcontracts worth over $1 million.
A tip to the Office of the Portland Ombudsman sparked an investigation and the City discovered that Portland Coatings operated as a front company for Williamsen & Bleid, a non-certified painting company owned and operated by Michael Nyland. The two companies shared office space and key personnel. Portland Coatings’ address was the loading dock for Williamsen & Bleid. Portland Coatings has used its certification to win public contracts across the state.
Terezia Nyland, the majority owner of Portland Coatings, was fined $15,000, the maximum penalty under state law. Michael J. Nyland, Terezia's husband, was fined $5,000. Both parties have been suspended from submitting a bid or proposal for any City contracts for three years.
The City also issued Hoffman Construction a warning for hiring Portland Coatings as a subcontractor. City contractors must confirm that certified subcontractors hired to complete work meet all City requirements.
“The City of Portland is committed to providing contacting opportunities to historically disadvantaged businesses, including those owned by minorities, women and veterans,” said Lester Spitler, Portland’s Chief Procurement Officer. “We are also committed to rooting out companies that cheat.”
Deputy Ombudsman Tony Green investigated the case, which began with a tip. The Office of the Ombudsman, a division of the elected Auditor, is an independent advocate for a fair, reasonable and just City government. The Ombudsman responds to complaints by members of the public, businesses and City employees to resolve complaints about City services and practices.
Since the original complaint was made to the City, Portland Coatings and Williamsen & Bleid merged as Portland Coatings, doing business as Williamsen & Bleid.
Portland Coatings can appeal the sanction to the City Hearings Officer.