bond capacity

Get to Know FIA Surety: Bruce Nash

Here is surprising info about Bruce Nash, a key person at FIA Surety.

Nurture vs. Nature.

Bruce didn’t have a choice. His family was married to the lake.

Our Bruce was born in the beautiful town of Lake George, NY and he has two siblings. The main feature of the town is… obviously the lake. 32 miles long, with over 170 islands, this is a gorgeous Adirondack setting. And Bruce’s family had strong ties to it.

The family business was a marina his grandfather founded in 1928. Bruce grew up in the business where he did “everything.” They loved the water, and this meant boating and also sea planes flown on the lake.

Bruce’s grandmother was the first female commercial pilot in Warren County, New York and part of the WAACS (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) during WWII. Bruce’s grandmother and grandfather both trained pilots before, during and after the war.

This is his grandfather’s 1928 Garwood, “The Jug,” it was the super boat of its day. Some were called “Rum Runners,” because those equipped with V-12 engines could outrun the prohibition era police boats! Bruce’s grandfather was a Garwood dealer and bought it new. Bruce won dozens of awards for maintaining it in its original condition.

Bruce worked three jobs to put himself through college, a graduate of DePaul’s computer programming school in Chicago.

When boating season ends, upstate New Yorkers turn to winter sports. After college Bruce took a position with Bombardier Corp, a snowmobile manufacturer. Over the course of ten years he rose to become Director Systems and Marketing for the U.S. operations in Chicago.

His next employment was with the owners of The Robert Plan (Div. of AIG) where he became President of a boat manufacturing facility located just outside of Nashville, TN. After a few years he moved to N.Y. where he became Sr. VP and Chief Information Officer of their Assigned Risk Auto business. His Robert Plan boss left the firm to become president of FIA’s sister company First MCO, and he enticed Bruce to join him.

He became head of our IT department and is now the President and COO of our sister company First Managed Care Option, Inc. and ActiveCare Scheduling (a PT and Imaging Facility scheduling service.)

Bruce designed a state-of-the-art system for the managed care of auto and workers comp claims – which is the function of First MCO. This rapidly growing business currently employs eighty people and is housed at FIA’s Morris Plains home office.

He also developed a specialized imaging system that allowed FIA to move all its archived and active paper files into one central electronic location.

“IT Geek?” No, not Bruce! Like his grandfather and grandmother before him, he became an aviator. Naturally, this led to skydiving (gulp!). The snowmobile business inspired him to become an accomplished snow racer. He was also a SCUBA diver and moto-cross (motorcycle) racer!

Today, Bruce manages to skip most of the high-risk activities, but he is a Merchant Marine Captain and avid deep-sea fisherman.

Bruce brings great technical skills, plus a bit of “dash” to our FIA family. He is a valued member of the team!

For Site, Subdivision, Bid and Performance Bonds call Steve Golia: 856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

How Did a Fireman Become the Top Executive of a Bonding Company?

Get to Know FIA Surety: Patrick Lynch Sr.

How did a fireman become the top executive of a bonding company?

Pat Senior (we have two) grew up in Newark NJ, the oldest of five children.  Since 1943 his family was the owner / operator of The Ark, a Newark restaurant, bar and liquor store.  Pat grew up in the business and at age 19 was thrust into a management role upon the untimely death of his father.

Pat proceeded to run and grow the business over the course of the next 20 years, building up their volume more than 10-fold! The business was concluded when the city took over the Ark property for construction of a new housing project.

For 14 years Pat served the city of Newark as a fireman. He survived the 1967 riots – a tragic period that resulted in the shooting death of his boss, Capt. Mike Moran Sr.

Pat served as a board member and finance chairman for the Shepherds of Youth Charitable Trust in Newark.  He was also chairman of the Veterans Hospital.

He became a professional lobbyist during these years, which gave him contact with group insurance programs and lead to the formation of an insurance company.  In 1979, First Indemnity of America, aka FIA Surety was born under Pat’s leadership!

The company started with six employees and occupied three locations over the years.  Our staff eventually grew to 40.  Our home office is now in beautiful Morris Plains, NW of Newark, NJ.

For FIA Surety, the “big break” came when an active writer of subdivision bonds withdrew from the market in 1980.  We moved in, filled the vacuum, and have been a major writer of site and subdivision bonds ever since!

Today Pat is still “captain of the ship” FIA Surety, and is also a deep-sea fishing captain.  Two of his three children work in the business, and he boasts five grandchildren.

Pat built our business on relationships and he remains accessible to our agents and clients every day.

Office:  (973) 402-1200

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

Banker Holding Back

Sure, your banker loves you. But here is important info they want to keep from Home Builders, Developers and their Agents.

When starting a new project, developers must secure the project with the township. This can be in the form of:

  1. Cash
  2. Bank issued Irrevocable Letter of Credit (ILOC,)
  3. Or a surety issued Site/Subdivision Bond

The International Risk Management Institute says a surety bond is better than an ILOC:

“Corporate surety bonds are far and away the most preferred option for most owner/developers when you consider the potential disadvantages of the alternative guarantee forms.”

Now you know. Too late if an ILOC was already filed with the township… or is it? Actually, our surety bonds can be filed to replace / release the ILOC. Your banker won’t tell you that either!

This is a great move for developers! Get back your cash. Use it to acquire or start a new project. It’s NOT too late the fix the ILOC mistake if you know where to go. Most sureties won’t write this type of bond but at FIA, it’s our specialty!

FIA is also one of the few bonding companies that will write Down-payment bonds for it’s Home Builders freeing up even more usable cash for your company.

If you have an immediate need for a Site/Subdivision bond or are interested in replacing an existing ILOC with a bond, call us at 856-304-7348.

Steve Golia

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

FIA Surety Success Story

This was a tough case.

The contractor needed a performance bond. We reviewed the bond request form and noted the bid results: They were 100% below the second bidder!

We obtained the company’s fiscal year end financial statement. Our analysis revealed a negative working capital and their net worth had slipped below zero due to a net loss for the period. Pretty tough…

The agent was not a bonding expert, so it was up to us to find a way to help this account.

Collateral was not an option because of their weakened condition. If it hurts the contractor, it can’t be good for us.

We dug deeper to fully appreciate all of the applicant’s attributes:

  • The bid spread resulted from the fact that the project was specialty work and the second bidder was a general contractor. They would have to hire someone like our client to perform the job. This contributed to their significantly higher price. Also, the applicant documented a good profit margin in their price.
  • There were specific reasons for the net loss. Corrective actions were taken and current financial results were improved.
  • We identified the applicant’s additional financial resources – there were multiple credit lines available (unused) and personal cash.

We wrote the bond! The difference is that FIA has a team of seasoned professionals with many years of experience (since the ’70s!). We know how to get through these tough cases.

Site, Subdivision, Performance and Payment Bonds.

Now you know who to call.

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr. 856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

Free CE Update

Love, Love, Love!
Love is in the air! We know you love free stuff, so get some here.

FIA Surety provided two free CE seminars in North Jersey recently. We’re doing one this week at an agency in Hatfield, PA.
It’s time to get your agency on our calendar. We have dates available in March. How do you set it up? Just give us a call. It’s that simple!

Speaking of simple, when you need a surety bond, we can make that simple too! Since 1979, First Indemnity of America (a carrier) has been making agents look great.

We’re your “can-do” market for:

  • Site and Subdivision Bonds
  • Bid and Performance Bonds
  • Deposit Bonds for home builders

What’s not to love?

Steve Golia 856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

We are currently licensed in: NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, WV, TN,  FL, GA, AL, OK, TX

Working Capital Magic!

Working Capital: It is a key element for contractors when they apply for Bid and Performance Bonds.  Too low, and the bond or entire account may be rejected by the bonding company.  Primarily, this number is calculated once a year on the fiscal year-end financial statement.  If the Working Capital (WC) comes out low, you’re STUCK with it all year… or are you?  Are there ways to “poof!” magically find more working capital on an existing financial statement?  Why yes!

Here are three ways contractors and their insurance  / bonding agents may overcome a WC deficiency:

  1. Stockholder loan: The owner can Subordinate an existing loan to the surety.  This means the owner / creditor will not demand that the company / debtor repay funds the company has borrowed.  The Subordination removes the stockholder loan from current liabilities, thereby increasing WC.
  2. Underbillings: Accrual Method financial statements do not include the current asset called Costs and Estimated Earnings in Excess of Billings, or for short: Underbillings.  If a net Underbilling Asset is calculated, it will directly increase the WC analysis.
  3. Bank line of credit: Many analysts will add available bank credit to the WC analysis.

Note: All three of these ideas can be applied to the recent fiscal year-end statement.  You don’t have to wait for a new statement to use them!

Bonus Poof!

How to immediately increase the Net Worth (NW) analysis: Fixed assets, such as heavy equipment, are depreciated each year resulting in their declining value on the Balance Sheet. The carrying value of the asset may eventually be less than the actual “street value” of the machine.  This lost net worth can be re-captured by finding the current appraisal value.  For big and old companies, this can give a major boost to the NW calculation – and therefore the bonding.

We hope you find these four tips helpful.   They can literally improve the analysis of an existing financial statement.

Do ALL bonding companies want you to know these secrets?  Hmmmm…  We do!  FIA is a bonding company (carrier) that has served contractors and their agents since 1979.  We are flexible and creative surety bond experts.  Call us for Bid and Performance Bonds.  Call us for Site and Subdivision Bonds – our specialty!

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr.  856-304-7348

FIA Surety / First Indemnity of America Insurance Company, Morris Plains, NJ

Be A Code Breaker! (Surety Bonds)

The Enigma Machine was a famous encryption device used by the Germans during WWII to transmit coded messages. It allowed for billions of ways to encode a message, making it incredibly difficult for other nations to crack German codes during the war.

Enigma Machine

In this article, You will learn how to break a code, how to solve a mystery in 20 seconds or less – every time. It is a surety bond mystery: The key element that determines the nature of the bond and predicts the successful underwriting path.

Here are your clues.

  1. “KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:”  These words are the common beginning of surety bonds.  You’ll see them over and over.
  2. “WHEREAS” will start one or more paragraphs which describe the circumstances in connection with the bond need.
  3. “NOW THEREFORE, THE CONDITION OF THIS OBLIGATION…” is the beginning of the promise in the bond.  It is the point of the bond guarantee and it determines the underwriting path.

Find the “NOW THEREFORE” paragraph and you can break the code.  What does it guarantee?  If it is the correct performance of a contract, the underwriting will concern the applicant’s ability to complete the work.  If the guarantee is to pay money when due, the underwriting will concern the applicant’s credit history and financial strength.  It makes sense.

Test your new skill

Ever hear of an ARC bond?  Probably not, but here is the “Now Therefore” clause for you to analyze:

NOW THEREFORE, THE CONDITION OF THIS OBLIGATION IS SUCH that if the Principal shall duly comply with the provision of said Agreement with respect to all amounts owed to the Obligee, as in said Agreement provided, during the term of this bond as hereinafter provided, then this obligation to be void, otherwise to remain in full force and effect in law…

OK Code Breakers, what can we conclude?

  1. It promises compliance with an agreement, so we’ll want to review that document.
  2. The applicant must comply with respect to “all amounts owed to the Obligee,” so the bond is guaranteeing the payment of money in the future.
  3. How can we determine if they are likely to do that?  Need to get financial and credit info on the client.

So there you go!  In 20 seconds you scoped it out and already have an idea about the underwriting, difficulty in placing, and potential markets that may have an appetite.

The underwriting path always follows the nature of the guarantee, which you will find in the NOW THEREFORE clause.  It’s that simple to break the code!

What a great feeling when you deal with the real experts.  You know you’ll get fast, efficient processing by folks who really care.  Call FIA Surety with your next surety bond.

FIA Surety is First Indemnity of America Insurance Company based in Morris Plains, NJ.  We provide site, subdivision, bid, performance and other forms of surety bonds.

Steve Golia, Marketing Mgr.  856-304-7348

 

Bid Results / Sgt. Joe Friday

    From 1951 to 1959 Dragnet was a defining police series that featured Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday.  Joe was famous for an interrogation line he often used: “Just the facts, ma’am!”

When bonding companies issue bid bonds they need to gather facts, too. It is an important process with implications for both the surety and the contractor.  For mood music, click.

So here are the facts, ma’am!

Bid results are the various proposal amounts submitted by contractors pursuing a particular project.  The bids are submitted at a designated time and place.  The list of bidders “lowest, second, third, etc.,” including the company name and $ amount, are the bid results.

The first party to know this info may be the contractor. They often attend the bid opening and write down the results.  Remember, they have a vested interest in the outcome.  They’re hoping to acquire a new project.

It is important for them to report the results promptly to the bonding company.  Here’s why:

Timely Issuance of Performance Bond

If the contractor is low bidder (offering the most favorable price to do the work), an award can be expected. The performance and payment bond will be needed by a set date to avoid loss of the project.  Reporting the bid results is the first step in this process.

Excessive Bid Spreads

A “bid spread” occurs when there is a significant (>10%) difference between the low and the second bidder. This is a red flag for the surety and contractor. All the bidders wanted the work.  They spent time and money developing their proposal. An excessive bid spread means the low bidder has a unique advantage (better expertise, prior experience, special equipment, lower material prices, etc.) over the other bidders OR they made a bid mis-calculation and are underpriced. (*Why is this a concern?)

If the contractor has a special advantage, they must share this info with the bonding company in order to obtain the P&P bond when required. The surety must be confident that the project will be completed properly.

If they made an error, they must notify the obligee / project owner that they wish to withdraw their bid.  If done promptly, they may avoid having a bid bond claim (for failing to move forward.)

Restore Capacity

When a bid bond is issued, underwriters consider a portion of the contractors surety line to be in use – under the expectation that they may win the project and need a P&P bond. If the contractor / bidder is not the low bidder, the capacity is restored to their surety line to support another project – as soon as the surety is notified.

For all these reasons, the prompt reporting of bid results is necessary.  A tight bid is a win for the contractor and surety.  The bidder acquires additional sales volume and the surety books a premium.  It’s how we all make money.

* Why is an excessive bid spread a concern?

If the contractor proceeds with a project that is underpriced, they may end up losing money on the work.

It’s an issue for the surety too, because they are the guarantor of the project.  They must complete the work if the contractor defaults, and they rely on the fact that the contract amount is adequate to accomplish this.  If it is not, the surety could face a net loss.

Excessive bid spreads are bad for everyone, even the obligee. If they award an underpriced project, they may end up with poor workmanship, missed deadlines and possibly a defaulted contract, ma’am!

Want this expertise and creativity on your next Bid or Performance Bond? FIA Surety is a NJ based bonding company that can help! We have specialized in Bid, Performance, Site and Subdivision Bonds since 1979.

Steve Golia is Marketing Manager for FIA Surety.  Call Steve now: 856-304-7348

Visit us Click!

Performance Bonds: How To Avoid Funds Control

Funds Control, Escrow, Funds Administration – are all the same thing, and can be part of the process when a Performance and Payment Bond is needed.

What is it, and how can you avoid it?

Funds Control is an underwriting device used by some bonding companies. The procedure is specifically intended to reduce the risk associated with the Payment Bond aspect of the surety’s exposure. The surety is guaranteeing that suppliers of labor and material will be paid. If they are not, the creditor is entitled to make a claim on the Payment Bond for recovery.

The funds administrator acts as the paymaster on the contract. They pay everyone, including the contractor. Under this arrangement, the contractor is not handling money or disbursing funds. This makes the surety confident that folks will be paid appropriately (thus preventing payment bond claims,) and it also assures that none of the money for our bonded contract is shifted over to support other unbonded projects (an illegal action.)

Now the paymaster doesn’t work for free. They perform monthly checking on the contract status including the billings, they gather lien releases from the vendors, they keep the books on the project and write all the checks on behalf of the contractor. The cost if this may be.5 – 1% of the contract amount, paid by the contractor. Normally it comes out of their profits.

Contractors may be unhappy with the fee, and they always worry about the turn around time to get checks issued by the administrator each month. They need to keep the project moving.

So let’s look at an alternative procedure that doesn’t cost the contractor any money, prevents any possible delay in turn around time… and still protects the surety on the payment bond.

The alternative is to have Joint Checks issued by the obligee. What does this mean?

Joint Checks are issued by the obligee / project owner in the name of the bonded contractor and their vendor. For example, if the contractor owes the lumber yard $20,000, a check is written payable to the contractor and the lumber yard specifically for $20,000. This procedure assures that funds sent to the contractor must end up in the hands of the supplier. Under the normal method of payment, a lump sum check for multiple vendors is sent to the contractor, and everyone hopes the funds will be used appropriately / promptly to pay bills related to the bonded work. Please note: That doesn’t always happen. And when money is mis-directed, a payment bond claim can result.

Conclusion: Compared to Performance Bonds, Payment Bonds are the most frequent area of surety bond claims. When the bonding company needs an extra cushion to assure the proper handling of money, Joint Checking is an alternative to Funds Control that is fast and free for the contractor – and helpful to the surety.

Want this expertise and creativity on your next Bid or Performance Bond? FIA Surety is a NJ based bonding company that can help!  We have specialized in Bid, Performance, Site and Subdivision Bonds since 1979.

Steve Golia is Marketing Manager for FIA Surety.  Call Steve now: 856-304-7348

Visit us Click!

Surety Bonds: How I Voted

Last Tuesday was the big day: 

  • “The most consequential mid-terms of our lifetime!”
  • “Your mid-term vote is a chance to affirm / reject (choose one) the president’s agenda!”
  • “The end of life as we know it!”
  • “Blah-blah-blah!”

I’m not making a joke about voting.  I think it is a privilege.  As citizens of a democracy, we owe it to all who have suffered and died defending this noble right.

So on Tuesday, I awoke bursting with patriotism and planning to cast my ballot.  But I decided to do it differently.  You’ve heard the expression, “Vote With Your feet.” This time I’ll do it!

I identified myself to the voting lady and she sent me to booth #2.  I quickly removed my shoes and socks.  It was hard getting the curtain open.

I entered the booth and reviewed all the choices.  Here it comes.  I steadied myself and placed my big toe on the lever.  I need to flip the lever, slippery, hard to turn it… I got it!

It became easier as I proceeded.  At the end you push a button to register your choices.  My big toe wouldn’t fit so I used the side of my “pinky toe.” Awesome!

I must admit, voting with your feet is harder than I expected, and a lot less fun. Why do people like it so much?  Eventually… it dawned on me what the expression means.  My “foot voting” was a fiasco!

You don’t have to make the same mistake. It’s not too late for you to vote with your feet – the right way.  Choose what’s better for you.  You can do it on Surety Bonds:

  • Circular 570, T-Listed bonds in excess of $10 million
  • Increased commissions
  • Superior, 365 service.
  • Same day response on new submissions.

You can have all this.  You should have it all! Vote with your feet and come over to KIS Surety for all these benefits.  Give us a call with your next Bid or Performance Bond.

Steve Golia, National Surety Director, KIS Surety

856-304-7348