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A decade of Surety
Giving our customers what they wanted
(L-R) Scott Paice, Senior Vice President, Surety; and Cina Welch, President & CEO, standing with the Surety 10-year anniversary cake
2011 kicked off with a requested new product to FCCI’s line.
FCCI introduced contract surety and expanded commercial surety throughout its footprint and several states beyond. Cina Welch, FCCI President and CEO, explained “The idea to enter into the contract surety business came about by listening to our customers.” At an agent business meeting and golf outing in the company’s Midwest Region, one agency customer wondered why FCCI wasn’t offering surety bonds when it was already writing policies in the construction business. The suggestion had also been submitted in a survey that asked agents what additional products they needed to serve their clients. The idea made a lot of sense – and it had come at the right time. That’s when FCCI hired Scott Paice, an experienced surety professional, to develop FCCI’s Surety business.
A year later, in the midst of a severe economic downturn, Greg Keller, SVP of JSL Surety, was seeking to establish a line of surety credit for Lewallen Construction Company. He reached out to FCCI because Lewallen’s longtime surety provider had just withdrawn its support of bonding on the heels of several losing years. In spite of a drastic reduction in contract revenue, the company remained committed to retaining its valued employees. FCCI was impressed by the history of the company and the character of its principals, Larry and Peggy Lewallen. Greg and FCCI believed they had the means to reverse the negative trend. FCCI began writing bonds for Lewallen Construction, and a relationship was born.
As the economy slowly began to improve, Lewallen received more opportunities for contracts. Thankfully, the company retained its seasoned employees through the recession and Lewallen was positioned to capitalize on a reduced level of competition, higher available profit margins, and more contracting opportunities.
As a result of Lewallen’s commitment to its employees and FCCI’s commitment to Lewallen at a time when the chips were down, 2014 was one of the best years ever for Lewallen. “We were experiencing hardships due to the recession when FCCI started working with us. They looked beyond our numbers and understood our company and people – they took a chance on us. We fulfilled the promises we made to them by securing competitive jobs and finishing projects and, in turn, they kept their promises to us,” said Larry and Peggy Lewallen, Lewallen Construction Company.
Scott Paice, Senior Vice President, Surety, noted “The Lewallen story is a great example of commitment, character, trust and partnership. We understand this is a two-way street, and we are thrilled that our agents have entrusted us with their customers and have shown continued support. It’s relationships like this that have led to FCCI’s Surety operation success.”
Steady growth
In 2014, only three years after FCCI began writing surety, its 19 teammates contributed to a $9.4 million growth in written premium. “FCCI gave the Surety team the resources and opportunity to succeed. Our agents responded with overwhelming support, and we’ve been able to assist a growing number of contractors and bonded principals each year,” said Paice.
In 2017, FCCI Surety wrote $18.3 million in premium, provided surety for 20,671 bonded principals, and was listed by The Surety & Fidelity Association of America as one of the Top 50 Writers of Surety Bonds in the country.
Ten years later
January 1, 2021, marked Surety’s 10th year of successful operations at FCCI.
The idea to get into the surety market was born by our agents looking for a dedicated surety market. FCCI already had a strong construction market presence, so complementing it with a surety solution was natural. Over the past 10 years, FCCI Surety has grown to be a very strong addition to FCCI’s portfolio of products and services. Paice commented, “The support of our valued agency partners and dedicated Surety teammates has been invaluable. Now in 24 states and growing, I’m excited to see what the next 10 years brings!”