"I had no clue what surety or bonding was at first. Upon learning more, I knew it was the career for me,” says independent agent Ben Dycus. “The intersection of construction, finance and working with people to build meaningful relationships was what I wanted to do."
Surety Bond Producer
Houchens Insurance Group
How did you get started at your agency?
I started with our agency as an intern when I was a sophomore at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. I did a little bit of everything as an intern. From the typical errands and coffee runs to accommodating logistics for out-of-town clients, running various reports and everything in between. I graduated on a Saturday, moved to the company headquarters in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and was in the office on Monday ready to take on the professional world. After three years, I decided I wanted to move back home to Lexington and that's when management approached me with an opportunity to lead our surety department in the Lexington office. That was nine years ago.
I had no clue what surety or bonding was at first. Upon learning more, I knew it was the career for me. The intersection of construction, finance and working with people to build meaningful relationships was what I wanted to do. I've always admired the construction industry, the industry that, with its blood, sweat and tears, physically builds the world in which we live and makes it a better place. To have the opportunity to provide valuable service and guidance to those people who are building our world is truly a blessing.
Future trends in surety?
Continued government stimulus and how that stimulus will flow through the economy—from the top of the chain down to the local level where individual construction projects will happen, as well as supply chain strength and material pricing as we emerge from COVID-19.
As for longer-term trends, I envision more technology advancements, such as artificial intelligence transpiring more over the coming years, some of which could threaten to automate or outsource some of our services as surety producers and underwriters. On the other side of the coin, technological advancements such as blockchain could improve the efficiency of our industry.
Surety advice for a fellow agent?
Be persistent but respectful, and always know when and how you're adding value to your clients and all other stakeholders. This is a tough business, but it can be one of the most rewarding careers out there. Always be curious and growing.
Favorite success story?
My favorite stories in this business are when I've solved a significant solution or brought significant value to my client, especially when they recognize that I went the extra mile. One case involved a large mechanical and electrical contractor that had been struggling with bonding for some time. I was able to come in and approach their account differently.
Upon clarifying the process and explaining my approach in our initial meeting, he said “Ben, I don't want to jinx this, but this sounds too good to be true." He appreciated it tremendously and recognized that I went the extra mile for him and his company.
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.