The First Ten Years: 1992 to 2002
For the first decade of its existence, the new association worked to gain acceptance within the construction and business communities and the surety industry itself as the true national voice for all things surety.
Right out of the gate we came face to face with the vexing dilemma that still confronts us today: Making the most of our limited resources to meet the expectations imposed by our broad mandate. Unlike similar national trade associations such as CCA and SFAA, SAC is the only surety advocacy group in the country, and as such, will often be called upon to address not only national issues, but provincial and even local concerns as well; all with only one full time staff member. Revenue for the first year of operation was a modest $207,000.
It was imperative in those early years that a network of dedicated volunteers be established and empowered to conduct the association’s business. Very quickly, an operating structure of regional committees was set up across the country which allowed members to address local concerns and serve as the face of association across the country.
Despite the initial growing pains and challenges, the fledgling association posted several milestone achievements during its first 10 years of life:
- An impressive initial recruitment efforts which attracted all major writers into the fold. Since that time, SAC has been enormously effective in retaining members and our membership has consistently represented more than 90% of the premium written in the industry.
- The Tender Alert Program was established as a means of addressing onerous terms in tender documents, contracts and bonds. Under this new program SAC would not only inform members of difficult and unfair contract terms, we would also engage the owner to explain the issues and urge “surety-friendly” changes. The program continues to be the most popular service offered by SAC and our success rate remains in the 75 to 80 percent range.
- In our first major government relations initiative, SAC addressed a serious flaw in the Excise Tax Act which effectively required sureties to pay GST twice in the event of a contractor default. We were successful in persuading the Ministry of Finance to amend the act to provide fairer treatment for sureties.
- In 1998, the Surety Association of Canada established an intensive university-level designation program to assist member firms in training staff. The Associateship of Canadian Surety Bonding (A.C.S.B) program has been an enormous success. In 2000, Jay German became the first recipient of the designation and as of 2014, 106 students have followed in his footsteps.
- SAC worked closely with Public Works Canada and Defence Construction Canada to establish a formal protocol for claims on federal performance and payment bonds. The protocol remains in use after 15 years.
By 2002, the construction and surety industries were markedly different than 10 years earlier. An expanding construction market coupled with shrinking reinsurance availability (brought about by adverse surety results in the United States) created new challenges in the Canadian marketplace. These difficulties were compounded by the first appearances of new and innovative project procurement and delivery approaches as sophisticated owners strove to get the biggest bang for their construction buck. SAC, which had just begun to establish itself as a credible advocacy body now faced the challenge of enhanced expectations and its members insisted on a vigorous and effective response to these new circumstances. The no-longer-new association would need to grow and adapt if it wished to remain a relevant and effective voice of the Canadian surety industry.
Read More about SAC's History