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WIPP NP Karen Barbour’s The Barbour Group Achieves Success with Surety Bonding Assistance Program

Tuesday, January 04, 2011  
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Sandra Schwartzman
RMR & Associates
301-230-0045, ext. 100   

The Barbour Group’s Surety Bond Assistance Program For Hensel Phelps (HP) Construction Succeeds in Increasing Pool of Qualified Small and Minority Contractors  
General Contracting Giant Lauds Program for Playing Key Role in Helping HP Meet Small and Minority Contracting Goals on Federal and Municipal Construction Projects  

Westminster, MD – January 4, 2010 – The Barbour Group, a Maryland-based surety brokerage known for its passionate approach to helping small businesses find bonding solutions, is achieving remarkable success with its Surety Bonding Assistance Program for general contracting giant Hensel Phelps Construction.  

Hensel Phelps, one of the largest general contractors in the nation, reached out to The Barbour Group for help in developing a pool of qualified (i.e., bondable) small and minority contractors.  According to Charles Eaton, Director of Corporate Diversity and Small Business Liaison Officer at Hensel Phelps, "The majority of our contracts require participation by small and minority business subcontractors, in order to meet goals on federal and municipal projects.  But access to capital is a problem for many small and minority companies, which makes it tougher for them to obtain surety bonds.  If firms are not bondable, we can’t hire them.”    

By tapping into a large pool of surety companies that cater to small business contractors, The Barbour Group succeeded in obtaining bonding support for $22.3 million in contracts during the program’s first year.  To date, the program has obtained 22 bonds for 15 firms with an average contract size of $945,700.  Every contract valued at $50,000 or more has to have a surety bond; this is the minimum contract size in the HP Bond Assistance Program.   

The majority of firms in this program had never had surety bonds before, noted Eaton, usually because they lacked access to capital.  Despite this, he said, there have been "zero” failures with the 22 bonds written to date.  

"The Barbour Group just doesn’t give up,” said Eaton.  "They are committed to helping small and minority businesses, and they keep going at it and make it work.” "We are pioneers in breaking down bonding barriers for small business,” said Karen Barbour, President of The Barbour Group.  "At the same time, we don’t gloss over problems and take a no-nonsense approach to overcoming business challenges.”  

The Barbour Group has been able to overcome capital concerns by emphasizing factors such as a small firm’s specialized expertise, favorable recommendations from suppliers and strong commitment to hiring the firm by HP project management.    

Two other important features of The Barbour Group’s HP Bond Assistance Program are:
• Authority to submit bond requests to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)  – up to $2 million per single job on Federal projects; and
• Immediate access to a national network of construction-focused accounting, legal and insurance professionals.  

Through the HP Bond Assistance Program, The Barbour Group to date has provided bonding assistance in California, Colorado, West Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia.  New projects that may need bonding support under this program are coming up in Pennsylvania and Texas.  

Founded in 2002, The Barbour Group services a wide range of construction clientele ranging from startups to companies with gross revenues in excess of $100,000,000. The Barbour Group is a 100% woman-owned surety brokerage certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), City of Baltimore and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).  

About Hensel Phelps Construction Hensel Phelps Construction, an employee-owned general contractor based in Greeley, Colorado, provides a full range of development, preconstruction, and construction services for commercial, institutional, and government projects throughout the US and abroad.  Founded in 1937, its project portfolio includes prisons, airports, arenas, laboratories, government complexes, offices, and more.  Major public and private clients have included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, IBM, United Airlines, The University of Texas, NASA and Whole Foods.  For more information, visit  

About The Barbour Group The Barbour Group, based in Westminster, Maryland, provides a comprehensive suite of surety bonding and commercial insurance solutions for small, medium and large construction contractors as well as Fortune 1000 companies.  Led by President Karen Barbour, a 26-year veteran of the surety bonding industry, The Barbour Group is known for its dynamic problem-solving approach that combines high degrees of industry knowledge and business acumen with equal measures of passion, persistence and positivity.  Unlike typical surety bonding agencies, The Barbour Group combines the insight of a contractor and the experience of a veteran underwriter to find creative business solutions for customers and eliminate the uncertainties of the surety bond approval process.  For more information, call (866) 876-9610 or e-mail

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