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30 Best Leaders To Watch 2019

An Interview with Constantin Poindexter, Surety One, Inc. Chief Underwriter and CEO: ‘There’s No Bond for which We Do Not Have an Appetite’

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“We are firmly focused on the surety sector and will always be however there are some insurance products that are natural adjacencies because of the nature of our surety clients’ businesses.”

Surety bonds can be a valuable alternative to bank guarantees or cash retentions and an effective way of increasing a contractor’s capital base. Unlike bank guarantees that are supported by collateral and tie up valuable working capital or other assets, surety bond providers evaluate the performance risk of the contractor and the contractor’s ability to complete the works.

In view of the above-mentioned scenario, we’re thrilled to present Surety One, Inc. (suretyone.com).

Surety One is a bond underwriter, international insurance brokerage, and surety-focused managing general agency – licensed in all fifty states, Canada, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Dominican Republic. It specializes in surety bonds (commercial and contract), fidelity bonds, and financial guarantee. Unique among surety brokers, the firm offers several non-standard (bad credit) programs as well as the availability and support of 7-days-a-week underwriting staff.

Surety One was incorporated in 2012 and is headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It has additional office locations in Raleigh; North Carolina and Toronto; Ontario.

Constantin Poindexter, Surety One, Inc. Chief Underwriter/CEO,

spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Can you brief us about the history of your company?

Poindexter Surety was originally focused on the bail surety market.Around 2011, I perceived some disconcerting trends in the bail sector so I began to explore insurance adjacencies that I might add to our mix that would create enterprise growth. Standard (civil) surety was a natural fit. In the bail surety business, a producer or managing general agent has skin in the game. He or she is directly liable for every single bond that is executed. That risk is a formidable albeit painful teacher. Since we were already competent in understanding the obligations that we were undertaking in bail, getting our heads wrapped around similar guarantees was a simple jump. In June of 2012, largely due to the positive response to our new surety bond offer, I spun off the internal unit into a new entity, Surety One, Inc.

Q. What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?

Strong competition from dominant, experienced market players that in most cases already enjoyed significant market penetration and preferential relationships with their insurance carriers.

The surety business is a unique financial service however it also has an enormous residual component. Well- established brokers and general agents that have built an enterprise on a solid book of bond principals will often enjoy renewal premiums for many years or decades. We call that, “building your house from bricks rather than sticks.” Our support may be superlative compared to the next guy’s but if the incumbent insurer or broker is proffering some modicum of “acceptable” service, the client will be unlikely to migrate due to his or her uncertainty about the risk of moving. A soft market (low pricing) is an additional challenge to new entrants into the surety bond sector. Low initial net premium revenue can make a surety program a net negative operation. Solving the former is nothing more than a matter of getting in front of the individuals and businesses that need your service, and offering them your product in a way that resolves their need and does that in a manner that exceeds their expectations. The latter really does not have a solution. You have to push hard to build a book of good foundational accounts then build from there.

Q. What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business’ success?

Long hours and personal growth! There’s nothing more important than putting in the time. Thomas Edison’s statement: “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” comes immediately to mind. At times sacrifices must be made in one’s work/life balance to keep the train on the track. I have sacrificed family moments, vacations, hobbies, a lot basically. It’s just the cost of starting with nothing and building something. Personal growth comes down to just one thing – reading! Read everything that you can put your hands on that will improve your business acumen and your understanding of your particular expertise. Study, study, and study anything that you can get your hands on that will make you more serviceable to your fellow man in general, to your customers, and to stakeholders more specifically.

Q. What are your future focus areas?

We are firmly focused on the surety sector and will always be however there are some insurance products that are natural adjacencies because of the nature of our surety clients’ businesses. Surety One will always endeavor to accommodate those requests even if they are somewhat outside of our wheelhouse. There is plenty of underwriting expertise out there so if there is something that we cannot understand profoundly, I will enlist those that can.

Q. Can you explain your mission statement in brief?

We do have a mission and it is invariably tied to our core values.

‘We will be bondsmen to all by providing a distinctive and superlative customer experience, by putting a surety bond in the hands of those that need them, and making the customer feel like a superstar. With the growth of wealth and success, we will continue to give and increase our support of those charitable organizations that make our world a better place.’

Q. What other leaders do you look up to, and why?

My father and Hank Greenberg! My family imparted a work ethic and attitude that I am owed nothing, that I do not “deserve” something that I do not earn. Hank Greenberg, because he is a brilliant insurance guy. His entire professional career was built on a specific premise about risk and what to do with it. Among the many, many professionals that I admire, Hank is the one that I wish could have been my mentor.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish in the long run?

Build an enduring business to pass along to the next generation of the Surety One team in whatever iteration that it may be. As we learn, build and grow, I hope that the increased reach of our services will allow us to help more people achieve their personal and professional goals. I hope that the increased profitability of the company will allow us to accomplish more with the charitable foundations that we support today. We have a responsibility to society as a whole to somehow leave this world better than we found it, in addition to our responsibility to our clients. All of our efforts are focused solely on these two things.

Constantin Poindexter: An Entrepreneur at Heart

Constantin Poindexter is the Chief Underwriter and CEO of Surety One, Inc.

Mr. Poindexter, 48, is a resident of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He earned degrees from North Carolina State University, the University of Salamanca Juris Doctor, American Military University in counterintelligence, and Institute of Property Casualty Underwriters in Fidelity and Surety Bonding.

“We will be bondsmen to the all by providing a distinctive and superlative customer experience, by putting a surety bond in the hand of those that need them, and making the customer feel like a superstar! With the growth of wealth and success, we will continue to give and increase our support of those charitable organizations that make our world a better place for all.”

Keep in touch: suretyone.com