President's Message

Mud Season

As we get into April, here in Maine it is spring, but the locals know it as “Mud Season." I know most of you have not experienced or played in mud since you were kids. In Maine, it is an annual event. You may recall one of the things about mud is that you can make tracks or ruts, and they stay in place, set in, and harden. This can result in getting stuck or caught in a rut…never a good thing!

I live off a dirt road and as I was driving home trying to avoid major ruts, it occurred to me how easy it is to be complacent or get “stuck in a rut." Mud season in Maine, aka spring, puts me in a different frame of mind. After traveling to our meetings and seeing new and young faces at Road Shows, I see this time of year as a time of awakening and blooming, a fresh start and moving forward with positive motion.

Surety is an old profession. It is a valuable, respected, and important industry. We play a key role in business, and our product, with the financial protections it provides, plays a critical role in commerce. This is all great, but it is not enough. As Hyman Roth, in the film, "Godfather: Part 2," said, “This is the business we have chosen.” This is my final "Call To Action" as President of NASBP, as it relates to the "Be Guaranteed To Succeed" and "Sell More Bonds" campaigns. It is time to grab an oar and put your back into it, because we all need to pull together. If you cannot attend the June 5 and 6 Legislative Fly-In, then possibly send someone else from your office. If you do not have time to meet with your state representative, how about contributing to the SuretyPAC? So you don’t know how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or this thing called Insta-what (Instagram)? JUMP out of your comfort zone, sit down with someone in your office that is familiar with ALL of them, and GET WITH THE PROGRAM!! The genie is not going back into the bottle. I would venture to guess that your customers are using all four!

NASBP has given us content to use in these social media platforms–there are static messages, videos, and soon even a service that will provide us with daily material–push and play! Use our "Be Guaranteed To Succeed" material to meet with the private school that stopped requiring performance and payment bonds. You might not change someone’s mind in one meeting, but we all know that understanding and selling our product is a process that takes time. Howard, how does that quote go…“Rome was not built in a day”? But if you don’t start building, nothing will happen.

Old or young, we can make a difference in the surety world. Spring is here, and NASBP will continue to provide you fresh material to support your business and our industry. We look forward to your participation and appreciate your continued support.

Thank you for patiently listening to me this year and allowing me the privilege to serve NASBP and the surety industry, both of which have been integral in my business and life.

Sales Nugget: JTW 133/Robert F. Driver Company
“You don’t necessarily put surety and sales together. Just the term ‘salesman’ has a negative connotation to most people, but when you put ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘surety’ together, you see a professional. Sales is what we all do, whether you are on the company or agency side, underwriting, producing, claims or administrative; we all have sales responsibilities.”

I was fortunate to have a fantastic mentor in Jack Warnock as I made the move to the agency side of the surety industry. Jack had a number of sayings, and many can’t be shared in this forum, but here are several that are timeless:

  • You’re not selling them something; you’re giving them something.
  • Don’t be afraid to call on anyone, big or small.
  • Sometimes you have to get down in the mud.   

Be Guaranteed To Succeed

I encourage you and your staff to participate in the NASBP social media posts announcing our pride in being part of this great organization. Join those who have already shared their photo on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and remember to use the hashtag #wearenasbp and include @nasbp. We’ve had a great response so far to this social media initiative. It’s fun to see the faces of our membership; keep up the good work! See some of these photos in recent past issues of Pipeline.

Robert E. Shaw is President of Skillings Shaw & Associates, Inc. in Lewiston, ME. He can be reached at and 207.753.7300.