All posts by Ralitsa Golemanova

About Ralitsa Golemanova

Ralitsa is a contributor for the JW Surety Bonds blog. She is an expert on surety bonds and licensing, which she has written extensively about and is closely following the dynamics of the industry.

Car Recalls in the USA [Infographic]

2014 has been a real roller coaster ride for car manufacturers in the U. S. While lingering effects of the global recession are still felt today, car sales advanced 4% in the first half of 2014! But, as you’ll learn from JW Surety Bond’s new infographic “Car Recalls in the U.S.”, this year has still been a struggle for many car manufacturers.

Car Recalls in the US

Even though 2014 is not nearly over, there have already been more cars recalled than in 2013. As of July, over 41 million vehicles have been called back due to manufacturing errors. Auto dealers should keep track of the unfortunate developments as they may greatly affect their business.

The infographic shows that so far, GM is the brand leading this year’s scoreboard, accounting for one fourth of all recalled vehicles in the U.S. Their 8.4 million vehicle ignition lock recall from February ranks as the 2nd largest recall in history! Ford still remains the champion in this unpleasant competition with their cruise-control switch spontaneous combustion in 2009, when over 14 million cars were taken back for repairs.

infographic on the relationship between truckers and freight brokers

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How to Get Your Texas Contractor License


Know what type of Texas contractor bond you need before starting your business?

Photo credit: Calsidyrose / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Are you from Texas and looking to start your own construction company? Being a newbie in any industry can be quite frustrating, especially with all the paperwork you have to acquire before setting out to develop your business. The perfect place to start is getting your Texas contractor license. You need to do this before anything else, as you are not allowed to operate as a contractor in the state if you are not licensed.

Getting a contractor’s license in Texas may not be the easiest task, as different types of contractors need to fulfill different requirements and get licensed by different institutions. For example, all HVAC contractors, plumbers and electricians need to get their license from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, while for a fire sprinkler license you need to go to the Texas Department of Insurance. General contractors, such as homebuilders, are not required by the state to have a practicing license, although it might be a good idea to double check with the municipality in which you are located.

Fire Sprinkler Licensing

If you are looking into becoming a fire sprinkler contractor, you need to get licensed as it is a type of specialty contractor job. Your license will be issued by the Texas Department of Insurance and it will be signed by the Fire Marshall.

The Fire Marshall issues three types of certificates — general, dwelling, and underground water supply piping. To get the certificate you are looking for you need to provide proof of insurance (including $100,000 per occurrence with $300,000 total coverage), authority to do business in Texas from the Texas Secretary of State or the County Clerk, a letter of good standing with the Texas Comptroller and you need to hire at least one full-time employee, who will also be licensed by the Fire Marshall to be your Responsible Managing Employee (RME).

The last thing you need to do to get licensed as a fire sprinkler contractor is to pass a course and an exam at the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies. Sitting for the exam is subject to a fee, which depends on the certificate level you wish to obtain.

Plumbing License


All plumbers need to pass an exam before getting licensed to practice.

Photo credit: John Carleton / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In order to become a licensed plumber in Texas you need to take a master exam before applying for your license certificate.

To sit for the master exam you need to have had a journeyman license in Texas for at least one calendar year. If you have already done that, then you need to contact the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners to register for the exam, which will cost you $155.

The exam consists of two parts—a written section and a hands-on test. The written part will have questions regarding plumbing mathematics, both general and specific to water heater installation codes, occupational safety, health administration, etc. The hands-on part of the exam will revolve around designing different sizing charts.

HVAC Licensing

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation offers two types of HVAC licenses, depending on the contractor work you plan on doing. The class A license allows you to work on any size of HVAC equipment, while class B license-holders can only operate on up to 25 tons of cooling and 1.5 million BTU of heating equipment.

Before acquiring either of these two licenses you need to pass an exam to prove yourself qualified to do the work. In order to register for the exam you need to have had three years of work experience in the last five years. If you have a degree in refrigeration, engineering, mechanical engineering or air conditioning engineering, you can substitute that for up to two years of the practical-work experience requirement.

After you have passed the exam you need to get the appropriate insurance in order to obtain the license you need. The license application fee itself costs $90.

Electrician Licensing


There are 12 different electrician licenses you can apply for in Texas.

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In order to get an electrician license, you first need to very carefully choose which one you actually need. The department issues twelve different electrician licenses. Apprentices also need to get licensed. All licenses are subject to different exams and have various work experience requirements. For example, in order to become a maintenance electrician, you need to have at least 8,000 hours of experience on the job under the supervision of a Master electrician.

Licensing fees also differ according to what type of contractor you apply to be.

Specialty Contractors – Start with Your Surety Bond!

Being a newbie in any industry can be hard. Therefore, just start with the basics. The first thing you will need to penetrate the Texas construction market is getting a contractor license bond.

The Contractor License Bond is a form of reassurance to your clients and government entities that you will follow the rules and regulations of the local authorities and that you will conduct your business with clients in an ethical manner. The bond also protects the end customer. Should you fall out of compliance with the license, your bond will cover your client’s losses, although the surety company will look to you for reimbursement.

With JW Surety Bonds, getting your Texas contractor surety bond is a simple and fast process. You can even get bonded if you have bad credit. JW Surety Bonds is the largest surety bond agency in the country, which allows us to approve contractors for bonds when other firms fail to do so.

If you wish to get your construction business going today, go ahead and apply online for your Texas Surety Bond.

Bright future for American truckers and freight brokers

Trucking is a $790 billion industry. From JW Surety Bonds’ new infographic Bright future for American truckers and freight brokers you can also learn that truckers have more than 200 nights out every year, beating any young party-goer. The infographic offers a great digest of statistics from the trucking and freight brokerage industries. The general trend shows that indeed, there are solid reasons for truckers and freight brokers to feel hopeful. With a large percentage of all U.S. goods being transported by trucks, it is no wonder that truckers make almost twice the average American yearly salary. With the trucking industry steadily growing and consistently moving a large part of U.S. freight, freight brokers choose trucking as their mode of transportation ever more often. Additionally, the overall freight revenue growth is expected to skyrocket in 2014. Combined with the 35% decrease in competition due to the new bond rules, the conditions are ripe for budding freight brokers to make their way in the industry.



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July 2014 Contractor Bids for 3 Hot Public Projects


July is the month with the highest concentration of construction bid opportunities
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Are you in the construction industry and currently looking for a project that will be worth your while? If so, you probably already know that bidding on the right project is what constitutes the difference between success and mediocrity.

But with July just around the corner, contractors will have a significantly bigger pool of opportunities to choose from. Most commercial and public projects go out to bids starting in July all the way through September, when the fiscal year ends.

However, hunting for construction bid opportunities can be a hassle. This is why we have put together a list of lucrative offers from around the country, bid submission for which starts in July. We hope that going through them might help you find that one project that fits your company perfectly.

University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Value: $251,300,000

Location: New York (Erie)

Bid Ends: 23 Jul 2014

Project Description: Come next month, the two-phased bidding for the construction of the University of Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences begins. The eight-story, 540,000-square-foot building will be funded by private philanthropy and state support. The first stage of the construction project will require site preparation, excavation, foundations and a steel superstructure for the building as well as its 60,000 Gross Square Feet (GSF) basement.

The second stage of the project, for which construction companies can bid, will be in the scope of the facade, the roof, and the completion of the interior, including all plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems.

The entire project is valued at $375 million.

Presolicitation Design/Build of Large Hangar Joint Base Lewis-McChord Gray Army Airfield

Value: $25,000,000 to $100,000,000

Location: Washington, King County

Bid Ends: 07 July 2014

Project Description: This is a public project with the facility being owned by the US Department of the Army (Seattle). The construction contractor company that is awarded the bid will be expected to design/build the Hangar with maintenance space for 6 Blackhawk UH-60 helicopters, administrative space, general storage, hazardous materials storage, petroleum oils and lubricant storage, parts and tools storage, organizational equipment storage, building information systems, fire protection system, EMCS connection and organizational parking, while also taking account of energy and sustainability in their design. The project also includes supporting facilities such as site development, lighting, paving of parking lots, utilities and connections, storm drainage, information systems, curbs and pavements and landscaping.

The construction company must follow the Department of Defense Minimum Antiterrorism for Buildings standard requirements.

Both small and large businesses can submit bids.

Assault Battalion Maintenance Hangar

Value: $30,000,000 to $100,000,000

Location: Colorado, Fort Carson

Bid Ends: 31 July 2014

Project Description: The invitation to bid for the construction of the 4th ID CAB of the Assault Battalion Maintenance Hangar starts on the first of July and both small and large business can participate.

In addition to building a standard Assault Battalion Maintenance Hangar, the project includes the demolition of existing buildings and building information systems, intrusion detection systems installation, fire detection and alarm systems, connection to the central installation system, energy monitoring and control systems. The supporting facilities include all exteriors accompanying the Assault Hangar, such as pavements, storm drainage, parking, curbs and gutters, industrial waste, exterior information systems, etc. The fire suppression system will be provided.

Contractors will be required to use special foundations due to Colorado’s corrosive soil. Also, the awarded construction company will need to start work 10 days after being notified and is expected to finish the building in its entirety in 540 days.

General Requirements


If awarded the project, request a performance bond from your bond agent.
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On top of having a business plan, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and detailed financial data, all construction companies who are looking to take advantage of these bid opportunities will be required to obtain certain documents, including performance bonds and bid bonds. Most often, you need to get bonded in order to be able to place a bid on a public project, so having your documents prior to submitting your business plan is advisory.

To find out more on how to obtain the contract bonds you need in order to start bidding, visit our Instant Online Surety Bonds Page or contact us online for further questions.


Top 6 Contractor License Schools in Florida

Passing the Florida contractor license exam is a critical part of becoming a licensed contractor in Florida. The exam is broken down into several parts and all parts must be fully satisfied within four years of beginning the exam process. Therefore, the right exam preparation at a top contractor’s licensing school can mean the difference between struggling to pass the exam and obtaining a license without difficulty.

While there are many programs and schools that claim to offer top-notch contractor licensing exam prep, the following Florida schools are among the cream of the crop for serious contractors.

Gold Coast School of Construction


The Gold Coast School of Construction has been educating and training thousands of successful contractors in Florida since 1970. They offer programs for Division I (Structural Building Contractor) for General Contractor, Building Contractor and Residential Contractor licenses. They also offer Division II (Subcontractor) programs for Air Conditioning Contractor, Roofing Contractor, Glass and Glazing Contractor, Pool and Spa Contractor and Specialty Contractor licenses.

The exam prep center offers intensive review courses, online practice exams, module workbooks and standard classroom instruction. The full service exam prep program tuition is $795. Tuition is valid for one year and includes as many classes as students wish to take at all locations. Classrooms are located in Doral, Lantana, North Miami and Broward.

The Contractors Institute


The Contractors Institute is the largest construction school in Florida and has been helping contractors pass the Florida contractors license exam since 1971. Their alumni ranks boast more than 70,000 students with a 95% exam pass rate.

They offer a wide range of contractor education programs, including General/Building/Residential, Plumbing, Electrical, Mechanical, Roofing, Air Conditioning, Specialty Structure, Glass and Glazing, Marine and Gas Line. Tuition comes with a lifetime guarantee—allowing students to take as many classes as necessary to pass the exam. Tuition varies based on specialty, but the General Contractor tuition is $895. This east coast learning center is located in Hudson, Florida.

Builder’s Estimating and Exam School


The Builder’s Estimating and Exam School has over 40 years of teaching experience with small class sizes and training & professional instructors. Located in Sarasota, they offer contractor exam prep courses in many categories. These include General, Building, Residential, Roofing, Underground Utility, Plumbing, Mechanical, Solar, Air Conditioning and Residential Pools.

The full course tuition of $1,300 includes the opportunity to take a 5 day complete training course with no more than 15 students in the class, plus a refresher course immediately before the exam. They also offer private tutoring options and exam book packages to support passing the exam on the first try.


Florida International University


As part of the Division of External Programs at Florida International University, the Florida Contractor Exam Review courses prepare students to pass the Florida contractor license exam on their first try. The 48-hour course covers all the information students need to prepare for the General Contractor exam, including business & finance, contract administration and project management topics.

Students who do not pass the first time are afforded the opportunity to take the course again at no cost. Tuition for the program is $900, not including books and manuals, i.e. study materials. The university is located in Miami, Florida.


Palm Construction School


The Palm Construction School has successfully trained contractors to prepare for the Florida contractors license exam since 1980. They offer exam prep through live classroom instruction, online exams and study materials including workbooks. Courses are offered for General, Building, Residential, Sheet Metal, Roofing, Air Conditioning, Mechanical, Plumbing, Underground Utility, Solar and Specialty contractor specializations.

The full course package costs $999 and includes in-classroom instruction at their Orlando-based school, online exam preparation, course manuals and workbooks. The tuition is good for one year and includes an online practice exam.


Camtech School of Construction


The Camtech School of Construction was founded in 1992, and boasts a team of instructors with over 130 years of aggregate experience. They offer more than three times the courses as the average exam prep school, with non-repetitive classes dominating the course schedule. In addition, Camtech offers a 100% money back guarantee. Courses are offered in Ft. Myers, Tampa and Orlando, as well as online. Tuition includes a full year of complete course sessions.


When registering for contractor license exam prep courses, keep in mind that there are basic guidelines that need to be met in addition to passing the licensing exam. Contractors must be over 18 years of age, have at least 4 years of experience and a FICO credit score of 660 or greater. Contractors who don’t have this minimum credit score may require larger contractor license bonds to be allowed to earn their license.

Have you attended any of these schools? We would love to hear more about your experience in the comments.

Indiana Wholesale Dealer License: How to Get your Auto Dealership Licensed

Update: The State of Indiana has confirmed that during the last legislative session, the legislators adopted a law which does away with the wholesale license by July 1, 2015. Until that time the wholesale dealer license is still required.

Auto dealers planning to open and operate a wholesale auto dealership in Indiana first need to obtain a wholesale dealer license. While obtaining a new license is not extremely difficult, it is a comprehensive process that requires providing many forms of documentation, obtaining key elements in advance and meeting strict regulations.

The Office of the Indiana Secretary of State’s Auto Dealer Services Division issues wholesale dealer licenses. The Division is responsible for receiving all completed documentation as well as keeping records of all licensed dealers in the state. They are the final stop in the application process—but there are many things that must be completed first.


Required Documentation to Obtain a Wholesale Dealer License

According to the Indiana Department of Motor Vehicles, the following documentation is required to apply for a dealer license. All items will be gathered and completed separately, with the exception of the formal application. The application should be completed last as it depends on information from other documents.

  • A completed Application for license (Form 13215)

Applicants can download the PDF fill-in version of the application here. It can also be printed and completed by hand, as well. Applicants will need to gather all of the items below before completing the application, since many items are required to complete the application fields.

  • A Registered Retail Merchant Certificate

A registered retail merchant certificate is issued by the Indiana Department of Revenue. It authorizes all merchants to collect sales tax on the sale of goods and must be displayed in the place of business. It includes issued and expiration dates and will need to be kept current. To obtain one, merchants must complete a Business Tax Application. This can be done online here. There are some requirements to prepare for in advance, the complete checklist can be found here. It includes items such as a federal identification number and a NAICS code.

  • A $25,000 surety bond

All Indiana motor vehicle dealerships must have a $25,000 surety bond in place prior to having their license applications processed and approved. This is one of the most critical components and the process for obtaining a bond should be started as early as possible. As of May 2014, the Auto Dealer Services Division also updated the surety bond form that is used to meet statutory requirements. The final form can be found here. Applicants can apply online for surety bonds as well.

  • Insurance

All applicants must provide documentation showing current, active insurance coverage to protect against liabilities. The exact specifications for liability insurance can be found here.

  • Zoning Approval

The dealer’s local zoning board, showing proof that the place of business is zoned for wholesale auto dealerships, will grant zoning approval. This part of the documentation helps prevent against misuse of dealer licenses by ensuring only real, legitimate businesses are licensed.

  • Franchise Agreement

For new license applications, a franchise agreement showing the relationship between a car manufacturer and dealer is required. This also helps limit license application approvals to only legitimate businesses.

  • Certificate of Incorporation or Certificate of Organization

The Certificate of Incorporation or Certificate of Organization that was created at the time the business was established must be included with the application.

  • Federal Tax ID Number & IRS Documentation

The Federal Tax ID number will be included on the application, but must also be accompanied by official IRS documentation. The letter issuing the FIN or subsequent correspondence including the number is sufficient documentation.

  • Social Security Numbers of all Owners and Partners

The formal application will also require the names and addresses of all owners, but social security numbers are also required to verify legitimacy.

  • National Criminal History Background Check

The background check is administered by the Indiana state police and requires an additional fee, payable by the applicant. All named parties to the applicant, including all owners and partners in the dealership, must submit to the background check. Felonies and misdemeanors may prevent issuance of a license if the background check reveals any.

Additional Requirements to Obtain an Indiana Wholesale Dealer License

The remaining requirements for becoming a licensed wholesale dealer in Indiana are aimed at ensuring only legitimate businesses receive a dealer license. State inspectors verify these items and it is important to maintain adherence to these requirements both during and after the application process. Dealers who own and operate credible establishments should have no problem meeting the following requirements:

  • Be open for at least 30 hours every week during normal business hours
  • Be well lit, with a minimum of 1,300 square feet of space, independent from other businesses
  • Have customer parking and display areas
  • Meet local zoning requirements
  • Have basic utilities and a dedicated office area
  • Have publicly visible signs identifying the business under its legal, licensed name

Wholesale dealer license applicants should have no problem meeting most of these requirements easily. For more complicated requirements, such as obtaining a surety bond for an auto dealership, contact us to apply today.