Entrepreneur Takes a Chance and Wins

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David CWith more than 20 years in the insurance business, David Cayemitte is used to taking a risk and winning. It was this roll-the-dice-and-see-what-happens attitude that likely prompted him to start his business, The Cayemitte Group (TCG) in Bordentown, NJ, at a time when the financial services industry was mired in scandal and bedlam.

Cayemitte, 47, spent more than 14 years as a regional executive with embattled insurance and financial services giant American International Group (AIG). He also did a stint at Travelers Insurance before starting the TCG in June of 2005. The company focuses on providing insurance, bonding and risk management to its clients. TCG is licensed in 28 states.

In 2004 and 2005, millions of investors pulled their money out of AIG and terminated longstanding business relationships after news broke about the widespread illicit activities of AIG senior executives, company officials and staff. The entire industry was in turmoil. “It probably wasn’t the best time to start an insurance brokerage agency,” says Cayemitte. “AIG’s influence was so deeply rooted in so many areas, it’s almost impossible to grasp its enormity and the tremendous impact that its failure would have had on the national and international economy,” he adds. The federal government bailed out the company and a number of executives were eventually arrested and charged with a litany of crimes ranging from fraud, embezzlement and violations with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Justice Department. Cayemitte said despite fallout from the AIG mess, he still decided to open an insurance brokerage firm at a time when doubts and skepticism about the genuineness of the entire industry abounded. The move proved to be a smart one, as revenues for TCG will likely top about $5 million by the end of the year. Some of TCG’s clients include Baker Ready Mix, one of the largest concrete suppliers in the state of Louisiana; Aviation Resources; Creative Interiors Plus and First Choice Mechanical. TCG provides multiple lines of insurance and bonding services to many of its clients.

In the metro area, TCG secured a multi-year and multimillion dollar contract with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) to provide Surety Bond administration. A surety bond is an insurance policy for which a contractor pays a premium. The bond essentially guarantees that the service provider will meet his obligations to complete a contracted project in a timely and satisfactory manner. The amount of a surety bond determines the size of a project a contractor can undertake and bond prices vary depending on the size of the company. TCG landed the bonding contract with DASNY in June of 2009 for a two-year pilot program. The contract was recently renewed for another two years extending through June of 2013. In conjunction with the bond program, DASNY launched a $3 million Capital Access Program for minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBE’s).

“The issue of bonding has been a major concern for many years, especially when it comes to minority business owners,” says Cayemitte. “It has been a constant barrier to emerging contractor growth as many minority and women-owned business enterprises are often unable to get adequate bonding capacity to compete on major projects,” he notes.

Finally, as for the future, Cayemitte said he plans to hire additional staff and expand operations to New York City, launch an interactive company website and continue foundational operations for two new TCG-based entities. One will be a not-for-profit bonding institute and the other, a wealth management and financial services unit. This will formally register the business as an M/WBE, which will likely increase business. “To date, we have not won any contract based on a M/WBE status. We have focused our attention on providing education and training to M/WBE firms so that once business is secured the firm can grow and thrive,” he says.