Gunzburger’s Benches Prove Defective


The benches, tables and walkways were suppose to last generations because the products sold by County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger’s husband were billed as Better Than Wood.

Broward County’s staff quickly found out they didn’t perform as promised.

Within months, Gerald Gunzburger’s Better Than Wood products began deteriorating.

Car stops made out of recycled plastic began to sag.  The legs could be easily pulled off the benches, a safety threat in the jails. Pieces of lumber for walkways were defective.

According to a 1999 article I wrote for the Sun-Sentinel, when a county staffer complained, “We were reminded who owns this company, that it was a husband of a county commissioner.”

That’s what Michael Cahill, a director of project management, told me at the time.

Sue’s late husband Gerald Gunzburger blamed the threat on one of his employees. 

The BTW employee was “not a polished guy…it  is not our policy to do anything but satisfy the customer. When I found out about this problem, it was corrected. We sent new products,” Gerald Gunzburger said.

Today the problems continue.

When I asked the county’s park division earlier this year about the durability of the BTW products, Parks Director Dan West questioned a member of his staff and forwarded his answer to me.  He did not name the staff member:

“We used to purchase a lot of BTW picnic tables when I first started at (the parks Southeast division) SE (@1997), but we stopped as the handicapped tables warped downward on the ADA end. Also the seating would warp in the heatand these tables were very heavy and difficult to move.

One of the controversies concerning BTW products was that it used co-minged recycled items, while competitors used only milk jugs and other high density plastic.

I wrote 11 years ago that “The county staff changed the bid specifications to allow co- mingled plastic. This gave BTW a significant advantage in the sealed bidding process because co- mingled plastic is cheaper.  The reason is that BTW did not have to pay for the trash to be sorted.

The answer to why the bid specs were changed appears lost.  I couldn’t answer the question 11 years ago. The county told me this year that they had no written material on the drafting of the bids. 

Gerald Gunzburger at the time wrote county purchasing officials that a co- mingled product like his firm makes “usually has more strength and rigidity than} lumber made using only polyethylene.”

The product didn’t prove to be tougher, but they did prove to be cheaper.  And now it proves to be the campaign issue that challenger Steve Geller can throw at Sue Gunzburger.

17 Responses to “Gunzburger’s Benches Prove Defective”

  1. Striker Liker says:

    Buddy, you are just jonesing to keep this controversy brewing. Can you say desperation?

    There is so much corruption in the County and Sue Gunzburger is not guilty of any of it. Steve Geller and Angelo Castillo, 2 potential Commissioners after this election, will continue to make Broward filthy. Let’s get rid of the garbage and make fake wood out of their desks!

  2. Frank White says:

    Sue: Don’t be an idiot. Hire an attorney!

  3. Another Voice says:

    “We used to purchase a lot of BTW picnic tables when I first started at (the parks Southeast division) SE (@1997), but we stopped as the handicapped tables warped downward on the ADA end. Also the seating would warp in the heat…and these tables were very heavy and difficult to move,” Dan West, the county parks director, e-mailed recently.

    Who was the author of this e-mail?. Dan West has been with the county less than a year (he came from Ohio).

    FROM BUDDY: The author of this e-mail was “Dan West, director, Browrd County Parks and Recreation.” It is on his stationary and signed by him.

    West was forwarding the information provided by his staff. I’ve reworded the paragraph to make it clearer.

  4. dumb and dumber says:

    In light of everything, this was the best Steve and his crew could come up with: the benches weren’t very good anyway. Good one, guys!

  5. Truthy says:

    Ronnie, no matter how you try to twist the truth; mommy sold the county CRAP, CRAP, CRAP just to make money!

  6. Yaki says:

    So, not only did the Gunzburgers rig the bids, but also provided the county with a shit product! GREAT! Way to go GUNZBURGER! Do us a favor, do yourself a favor…RESIGN! For all our sakes!!!!!!

  7. Interesting...... says:

    gods forbid anyone gets hurt while sitting on these benches….. since Sue swears by them… maybe they should sue HER!

  8. G.B. says:

    I have 6 (six) points to make on this District 6 related post:

    1. How long would real wood have lasted?

    2. Did these BTW products not last 10-20 years as promised?

    3. A leg coming loose is the result of the fastener: nail, bolt, etc. and not necessarily the BTW product.

    4. Like any other reputable vendor, BTW would have repaired/replaced any of the defective items given the opportunity.

    5. Exactly how many pieces of defective BTW products were there in relation to the total BTW products sold to and used by the County?

    6. Why is it just recently this is being revealed and if the wood sagged, maybe Geller sat on it?

    Nice try Steve…you will still lose.

    BTW is out of business so any guarantee on the products is null and void.

  9. Terry says:

    Hey G.B., does that stand for Goof Ball? Is that the best you can do to attack Geller on his weight? I guess so, that’s right he’s not the one under “criminal investigation”. The candidate you’re obviiously supporting is a real hottie. You’re right, when a product falls apart it is very well made.

  10. Willie says:

    5:53 p.m.:
    We have no idea if Geller is under investigation or not.
    With his ties to Mutual Benefits insurance scam and Scott Rothstein and his lobbying for developers while in office, I wouldn’t doubt he is being looked at right now. If not, he should be.

  11. Tommy the Fry Cook says:

    Wow…the GONESburger campaign gets more pathetic by the day.

    Sue is the one under investigation, not Geller. All the references to Mutual Benefits are a sad attempt to distract from what a useless, worthless commissioner Sue has been for 18 years.

    It’s bad enough that she and half her family have been slurping up tax dollars like starving hogs at the trough, now someone is FINALLY talking about what so many others have known for years: her family’s “Better Than Wood” products were absolute crap. Maybe the company should have been named “Better Than Balsa Wood”, because that’s about the only standard that their products beat out.

    So let’s see, Sue gets elected, then MIRACULOUSLY, the bid specs get re-written (translation: DILUTED) so that hubby Gerry suddenly gets a MASSIVE competitive advantage. Everybody else plays by the rules and they get screwed. The GONESburgers use political cronyism and insider connections, then they make a fortune off it.

    Oh wait! I’m sorry…I forgot! Gerry was a brilliant businessman (according to Sue) EXCEPT in the one venture in which he sucked up truckloads of tax dollars. That’s the one venture in which he LOST money!

    How do we know this? Because even though Sue swears she knew “nothing” of Gerry’s BTW affairs, she “knows” that none of her current personal fortune came from that business. I’m not sure how you can “know” and “know NOTHING” at the same time, but that’s her story and she’s sticking to it!

    (Face it: it’s no more ridiculous than the other garbage she’s been spewing throughout this campaign!)

    This election is going to be like lancing a big festering boil: you get rid of the poison and let the healing begin. The sooner Broward County is rid of the GONESburgers, the sooner our government can get back on track.

  12. Truthiness says:

    Considering all of the BTW contracts with Broward COMBINED totaled to less than $1 million … and that is the total of everything paid by Broward for the products, not the profit, not deducting for production, facility, costs, etc … there is no way Gunzburger’s money came from BTW. Everyone who invested in it lost money.

  13. No Nonsense says:

    What a said choice the voters have for this commission seat. We’re like a condemned prisoner having to choose his method of execution.

  14. Communist Plot says:

    Recycled plastic lumber has a myriad of drawbacks. It is not as rigid as wood so that means benches and boardwalks need more bracing underneath. More bracing means more material is used compared to wood. It also means that benches and tables are at least 50% heavier than if made with wood. That makes it hard for Park’s personell to move around. Plastic lumber does not take a nail or screw as well as wood, they just work themselves out. That means connections aren’t cheap and efficient nails and screws, but more expensive nuts and bolts that have to go clear through the material and tightened on both sides. Plastic lumber used to be made with a lot of sawdust mixed in. The sawdust would rot and produce huge mushrooms in the middle of the “wood”. Plastic wood also had huge “bubbles” or voids inside of it that you never saw until it failed. Plastic wood does not take paint well. This isn’t bad because it lowers maintenance but if you want a color, it must be mixed at the factory or you better be happy with, brown, black or gray.

  15. G.B. says:

    Park benches are a smoke screen.

    Just because you do not see the initials coming does not mean they are not coming. Ask Beverly Gallagher & Josephus Eggelletion if they saw them coming.

    It was Geller who introduced Joel Steinger of Mutual Benefits fame to Russ Klenet. Russ & Steve are joined at the hip. It is unrealistic to think that Russ would not “take care” of Steve for the intro.

    Please note this published quote:

    “Joel Steinger poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the political process, fostered a friendship with Geller, and hired Ritter’s lobbyist husband, Russ Klenet — all moves that helped him continue operating his fraudulent company with the Legislature’s nascent blessing.”

    Link for this quote is here:

    I know, I know.

    If you do not think Steinger is rolling or has already rolled on them both by now, you are naive. He’s going to do or say anything he can to save his own *ss.

    IMHO, it’s just a matter of time.

    Park benches indeed.

  16. Watchman says:

    I was a carpenter for the county at one time and had to use that recycled garbage crap. It became quickly apparent to everyone that this stuff was no good, but we had to keep on using it. The fact that it came from a commissioner’s husband was an open secret and nobody felt that they could safely make waves about it. Contempt for the commission and the management lackeys who allowed it was rampant. This buying off of the employees is part of the reason that gevernment workers’ unions are able to negotiate lucrative contracts for their members. It is a form of hush money.

  17. Yaki says:

    GUNBURGER let the “threatening atmosphere” exist…her husband condoned it and their salesame carried out their demands. AND to top it all off, the BTW product was crap, inferior and ugly! How could the county prefer this product over natural wood? They all help each other…because most, if not all, fed at the trough. BUT THAT ERA IS COMING TO AN END, isn’t it?