Q&A Spotlight with Carley Montgomery, CDMI Construction: Local Jobs, Small Business Growth, and Getting Bonded

Established in 2008, until recently the relatively new company CDMI Construction had only completed private sector jobs up to $650,000. With the assistance of the Bond Assistance Program, CDMI obtained two subcontracts, one for $2,122,000 and another for $3,613,000. These will be the first public sector projects for this company — and hopefully the beginning of many more.

We caught up with Carley Montgomery, who along with Andy Russo, Jr., founded the company. We talked to her about her experience seeking help in obtaining bonding for a Walsh Austin Joint Venture (WAJV) project for the LAX expansion.

Q: How has the Bond Assistance Program (BAP) helped your business?

A: The BAP has made it possible for CDMI to obtain bonding in excess of five times its current bonding capacity. This project has facilitated the exponential growth of our small women owned business in gross revenue as well as future bonding capabilities. Without the program, we would not be able to perform or compete on the projects bidding at LAX.  With the program, we have been able to obtain contracts totaling over $5.5 million on the Bradley West Projects.

Q: What does it mean for CDMI to have a public sector project?

A: What it really means is that in this ever-changing economic climate we are able to diversify our portfolio. Competing in the public works sector gives us access to bid on more projects. Let’s face it, since the market really crumbled in the end of 2008, and coincidentally when CDMI was just getting off the ground, the private market has essentially died due to the crash of the credit markets.  Projects that were under construction or in design lost funding and new projects weren’t coming online since there was no financing.  With the money from the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) and the sale of Federal Bonds, the Public Works Sector has continued to build.  Without access to bonding, it’s impossible to get into this market.

Q: Where are you on the project to date?

A: We are mobilized on site and ready to go to work.  We are experiencing some delays, which is very common on LAX projects.

Q: How was the process of working with the BAP?

A: The BAP program has been wonderful to work with, incredibly helpful and a true ally. I originally met with the BAP in 2008 when working on V Australia and looking for a bond.  At that time I didn’t need to utilize the program since I was able to secure the bond myself, but have always had a working relationship with Margarita Lopez, who is now the diversity affairs coordinator for Walsh Austin JV.  I feel that Margarita, Maria, Diane, Rosa and everyone else I have been dealing with at Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services and the BAP are truly there to be of service to the Contractor.  They have all gone above and beyond their job responsibilities to help navigate the programs that the city has to offer small businesses.

Q: Do you have any words of advice for others thinking about enrolling in the BAP?

A: Enroll now —  don’t wait until you need it and are under a deadline. The process of obtaining a bond, even with the program, takes longer than you would have expected and likely longer than the time you will have once you have a successful bid. Especially since the program is only one element in the process, it’s best to get it out of the way now. Use an experienced bonding agent familiar with the program, and Sureties who have already accepted the Letter of Credit offered by the City through the program. Keep your financial information up to date and have your CPA regularly review them — this is invaluable when it comes to applying for your bond.

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