Celebrating 50 Years of Surety Guarantees
If you are a producer who participates in the surety bond guarantee program of the U.S. Small Business Administration, you may be aware that the Office of Surety Guarantees is celebrating “50 years of opening its doors to bonding.” In honor of this remarkable achievement, the Office of Surety Guarantees plans to host a virtual conference and celebration on September 24 and 25 of this year. The event portends to be a fitting celebration, as SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, OSG Director Peter C. Gibbs, surety industry leaders, and special guest Marcus Lemonis, host of CNBC's The Profit, all will participate in the virtual conference. Register and attend the free SBA Virtual Event, which will feature presentations from representatives of NASBP members and affiliates, including Christian Downey, NASBP Small Business Committee Chair and President, Downey & Co.; Michael Williams, President & CEO, CCI Surety; Joshua Etemadi, Assistant Vice President of Constructions Bonds, Inc.- Murray Securus; Devin Moore, Owner, Moore Surety Bonds Agency; Adam Pessin, President/CEO, Tokio Marine HCC Surety; Ralph Pulver, Contract Surety Vice President, Travelers Insurance; and Alfred Wright, Contract Surety Senior VP, Crum & Forster Insurance.
From its origins in 1970 to the present day, the SBA bond guarantee program has sought to better the abilities of small businesses to win contract awards by providing guarantees to sureties willing to write small businesses that otherwise would not qualify for surety credit. NASBP has been a long-time supporter of the program, and I can recall quite a few stories from NASBP producers relating how they utilized the program to get a first bond for a nascent business that has grown into a best-in-class contractor. Personally, I, along with other NASBP staff, particularly Director, Government Relations, Larry LeClair, have been proud to support beneficial changes to the program over the years, advocating for a variety of statutory and regulatory changes, including increasing the size of eligible contracts and increasing the percentage of guarantees offered to sureties, among other improvements.
The current Director, Peter Gibbs, has provided adroit leadership of the program and always has sought to understand and to partner with the surety industry, periodically sending SBA staff to NASBP surety schools and meetings, and maintaining presence, listening to concerns, and being responsive to suggestions. Under Peter’s leadership, the number of participating surety companies has grown significantly, and the program has extended its outreach, partnering with NASBP on bonding awareness programs around the country, among other initiatives. He was able to obtain a temporary decrease in the fees charged to access the program and has streamlined administrative processes and moved toward digital signature acceptance on forms.
The importance of this program goes far beyond the businesses that it serves. As we are aware, surety bonding is a cyclical business, weathering up-and-down periods with, in turn, softening and hardening markets. The constant presence of the SBA bond guarantee program ensures that, no matter the current cycle, there is a legitimate and regulated “on ramp” for small and disadvantaged businesses to access the “main highway” to the standard surety marketplace, so these businesses have greater procurement opportunities and can bypass the temptations of so-called “easy” credit from unscrupulous, unauthorized “sureties.”
NASBP has contributed to this deserved 50-year anniversary celebration, and I hope you will join me in extending hearty congratulations to Peter and to all of the staff of the Office of Surety Guarantees for their tremendous service to American small businesses, our economy, and our industry, wishing them another 50 years of success!