President's Message

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Thanks for the Memories; Let’s Build on a Solid Foundation

When I became NASBP President the closing night of our 75th Anniversary Celebration in Boca Raton, several Past Presidents told me that I would not believe how fast the year would pass. They were absolutely correct; it has been fast paced, productive, and rewarding. I will use the first portion of this, my last Pipeline column, to express my appreciation for the privilege of serving NASBP and to those who were critical to the success we had this year. When two tall Past Presidents persuaded me to join our Executive Committee as Third Vice President, I told them that I had to first talk to my wife, Sue, and Marla Hill since my activities would affect both home and office. I told them that those two Past Presidents had assured me this would not take that much time. Sue and Marla knew that this was not likely to be the reality, but they agreed to support me as I took on the office. Therefore, I want to first thank them for making my service possible.

My next task was to choose and then delegate the 2018 Conference to Program Co-Chairs Todd Loehnert and Monica Donatelli. They have done a marvelous job of putting together an interesting and informative program. Next, every NASBP activist who has served as President will acknowledge the tremendous contribution made by our national staff in assisting our programs. Mark McCallum and his team are unbelievable in what they accomplish. Our member volunteers who serve on our Board of Directors and Committee Chairs provide invaluable input and guidance for the many NASBP programs. One behind-the-scenes group that provided valuable advice and information when I asked is the active Past Presidents. I, somewhat playfully, refer to them as “The King’s High Privy Council.” Finally, I treasure the contributions of my fellow members on the Executive Committee—the Officers and the Ex Officio members. We use the phrase “Collective Brain” to describe the value of a group tackling the challenges faced by our association and our industry. All of these individuals were key to the success we jointly achieved this year. 

When we gathered last year at the Annual Meeting & Expo in Boca Raton, we were able to reflect on 75 years of success in promoting our surety products. The days of that Meeting confirmed that those NASBP members who helped develop our association had built a solid foundation. It was our challenge to continue to build on that foundation. You will hear at our upcoming Annual Meeting & Expo in Scottsdale, AZ an exciting endeavor that first took root during Lynne Cook’s year as NASBP President. She formed three task forces to examine what could be done to promote and protect the surety product and to publicize the vital role played by the professional agents who make up NASBP. The work of these Task Forces led us to begin undertaking a communications campaign to achieve those goals.

The first step was to vet public relations firms in the District of Columbia area that had significant experience in directing campaigns for associations. We interviewed two such firms and unanimously selected GMMB to direct our campaign. The Executive Committee then allocated the initial funds to begin the campaign. We emphasized to the Board of Directors that this effort will not be “one and done.” It had its genesis during Lynne Cook’s year as President, continued during my year, and will likely continue through Bob Shaw’s, John Bustard’s, and Mark Munekawa’s terms as President. The campaign will require the commitment of hundreds of thousand of dollars from our assets. In this era of disruption that our businesses face, we believe strongly that we must effectively deliver the message that Surety is The Product that protects taxpayers' dollars, the public interest, financial commitments by bankers and investors, and that provides the critical guarantee that the suppliers, subcontractors, and laborers receive payment for their goods and services. 

Past President Susan Hecker and Government Relations Committee Chair Tracy Tucker have agreed to lead the Public Relations Campaign Task Force conducting this campaign. They will share exciting news about this effort during our Annual Meeting in Scottsdale. Every attendee will want to come back quickly from the Monday morning General Session break to hear their report at 10:15 a.m. In order for this ambitious project to achieve its goals, Susan and Tracy will need the support of our entire membership. Local agencies will be the “boots on the ground” to contact decision-makers on the value of surety bonds. Those decision-makers include owners, lenders, developers, and general contractors. We will make the marketing materials developed by GMMB available to the NASBP membership. We ask each of you to distribute those materials in order to make this challenging campaign a success.

If you have not yet registered for our Annual Meeting that begins at The Phoenician on April 29th, please go to www.nasbp.org to register. You do not want to miss this event.

In closing, I thank you again for the great memories of this year. We do indeed have a solid foundation at NASBP; let each of us commit to build on that foundation.

Howard Cowan is Principal of Acrisure, LLC dba Cowan-Hill Bond Agency in Lubbock, TX. He can be reached at howardcowan@sbcglobal.net.