Fall  2014
Bridge to Opportunity
Contractor Tools 
San Francisco Edition 
A Word From the Program 
For the remainder of this year and moving into the beginning of 2015, we anxiously anticipate many fresh opportunities to work with local contractors and assist them in gaining access to surety bonding and financing. Our mission and dedication to facilitating this important facet of contracting with the City and County of San Francisco is but one component in building a strong, viable contracting community that is inclusive of local contractors from a wide spectrum of sophistication, disciplines and social backgrounds. We will be enhancing our services with Contractor Field Support & Development Assistance. Please look for more announcements in the coming months. We are excited about a host of exciting events, informative seminars and educational opportunities designed to broaden participating contractors' knowledge base and expand their access to available resources.  

In This Issue...
In this issue, you will learn how the Surety Bond & Finance Program provided assistance to local contractor, Pilot Construction Management, Inc. and facilitated the company's ability to bid and win a $3 Million San Francisco International Airport project. Also included, is information about the San Francisco Public Utility Commission's Contractor Assistance Center. Finally, we were privileged to have the opportunity to interview Jenna Castro, Assistant Engineer at the San Francisco International Airport.

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you in the future. 

Jennifer Elmore 
Bond Program Supervisor 
Ingredients for Success
Spotlight: Pilot Construction Management, Inc. 

What are the ingredients that lead to a successful business? Perseverance, planning, location, good employ
ees, and great work habits. Those are certainly the attributes that have helped Lina Tan, owner of Pilot Construction Management, Inc., grow from a small-sized contractor to a medium-sized one. The proof is in the numbers: As a new business, Pilot Construction st
arted out in the CCSF Bond program with a $400,000 project; they recently finished a $3 million Project, but Tan doesn't take all of the credit. She points to former employers, City & County of San Francisco Surety Bond Program (CCSF), and the City of San Francisco for helping her business grow.  

From a young age, Tan was interested in physics, science, and math. When she came to the United States from C
anton, China at age 17, she came across a City College course about construction methods. "That course changed my life," she says. The first chance she got, she applied for a job with a construction company. She slowly and steadily moved up the ladder: secretary, material purchaser, assistant estimator, and then estimator. She kept rising upward, finding herself doing the jobs of the scheduler, foreman, supervisor, and finally as the project manager. 

With its seemingly limitless opportunities, she loved the company. But when the aging owners wanted to retire, she cannily saw an opportunity. She applied for a Contractor License, found someone to sponsor her, looked for an office space - and started her own business. With her previous employers' blessing, she contacted their clients to solicit their business.  

Like any new business owner, she faced significant hurdles. "Once I started my own business, the biggest challenge I faced was realizing that there was not an automatic paycheck every month," she says. "Not only did I have to perform my tasks over and over, but I had to correct and fix tasks that previous contractors performed. That led to my second biggest challenge, which was not having enough hours in the day to do my work." 

Another hurdle Lina overcame was finding a "start-up friendly" bank that understood the construction business to give her a credit line, finding someone to do superintendent duties so she could be freed up to run the business and find new clients and customers. 

She turned to CCSF for help with these issues - and more. "CCSF has helped me immensely," she says. She points to CCSF's invaluable assistance in getting bonding for several City of San Francisco projects. As a result, Pilot has worked on several of them, including installing air conditioning units on the roof of several City-owned buildings, installing fall protection systems on the roof of San Francisco Airport's building, underground fuel tank certification and repair, and repairing hangar doors at San Francisco Airport. 

The Airport, in fact, was the key organization that helped her to stay in business during the economic downturn. During that time, the Airport made it easier for small contractors to bid their jobs by putting out more small projects, conducted seminars to teach contractors how to successfully bid the Airport projects, and made changes to their policies to make it easier for small contractors to bid. Not to mention the notifications of new projects, and engineers and project managers available to answer all her technical and contractual questions. 

 All of this support has paved the road for a solid business, with eight full time employees, a number that has risen to 18 on occasions. Tan believes that happy employees make for happy customers: "In my company all employees are part owners, and they treat each and every client as if they are the only client the company has. We make sure that when we finish our projects, our clients are happy with our performance, and they will call us for their other projects." She feels lucky to be doing business in San Francisco, which she calls "the most small business friendly city in the world." Not only have they understood the challenges of a small business, they also help the businesses through various offices, departments, and policies to stay alive and grow. 

Pilot is on the ascent.  With Tan at the helm, the leader of a medium-sized woman-owned Local Business Enterprise, one would expect nothing less. She is grateful for CCSF's help, but knows that she must learn to fly. "My hope for the future is steady incremental growth for my company, the ability to get my own bonding without the help of the CCSF Surety Bond Program, and to have more full time employees so that I can tackle bigger and more projects." 
A Different Perspective
Spotlight: San Francisco International Airport 
Not many people get the opportunity to work on an airport hangar so big that it can fit four 747s - and still close its doors. But this is exactly what the San Francisco Airport's Superbay Hangar Doors Retrofit Project entailed. The hangar door system, built in 1969, needed a serious upgrade that included retrofitting the doors, replacing the motors, redoing the wheels, and ensuring that the doors align properly on their tracks. It was a unique opportunity, since only four other similar doors exist in the country.  

With City & County of San Francisco Surety Bond Program's help, Pilot Construction Management, Inc., a medium-sized woman-owned Local Business Enterprise, got the winning bid. The project provided a unique opportunity for the business. "Without bonding, Pilot would not have gotten the opportunity to do a job this large," says SFO assistant engineer Jenna Castro.  

The project started in February 2013. "Pilot did a very good job in construction and pulling the whole project together and making everything work the way it's supposed to," says Castro. "It's a large and sensitive project; you have to be very careful when dealing with a 70-ton door."  

The project was successfully completed in June 2014. Castro attributes this partly to Lina Tan, the Vice-President of Pilot Construction Management. "She does good work, she is organized, and she always knew how things were going on the project." As an aside, Castro enjoyed the camaraderie in the male-dominated field of construction. "She is the first woman that I've worked with on the contractor side, which was nice for me," says Castro. 

With CCSF Surety Bond Program's assistance, Pilot now has invaluable experience in everything from hangar door motors, gear boxes, and new door technology like laser alignment and positioning. "That will be a scalable skill," says Castro. "Getting that bigger project gives them more confidence to bid on more jobs. By being able to be bonded, they can continue to get more and different jobs at the airport." 

That is exactly what has happened. Given the success of their work with the airport, another Pilot project with SFO is underway: Airport Fire Suppression Repair Certification & Maintenance! 

Castro encourages other small to medium-sized contractors to bid on airport projects, especially with the help of CCSF Surety Bond Program. She advises becoming familiar with the drawings and contract documents, so that contractors can properly bid the job and understand the work. And if you have questions on a particular job, don't just sit there wondering. Contact the project manager on the contract specifications; you can also contact a specific engineer for targeted questions, also listed. "We are here to help and don't want to leave anything ambiguous," says Castro. And if you do get the bid? "Make sure you have a good CPA who understands contract documentation and finances." Sage advice.  

For bids and requests for proposals at SFO, visit http://www.flysfo.com/public-notices. 
Breaking Down Barriers
Spotlight: San Francisco Public Utility Commission's Contractor Assistance Center
Small local business owners can face many challenges trying to achieve their goal of a thriving and healthy business: These owners might include a contractor looking to develop pricing for a bid, a consultant who needs assistance developing a proposal, or a non-profit seeking information about the latest City grant opportunities. Sometimes they need support and guidance along the way. Luckily, the San Francisco's Contractors Assistance Center can help. 

Run by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), the Center was set up to serve small local businesses pursuing City-funded contracting opportunities. Small business owners that walk through the door include construction contractors, architects, janitorial services, engineers, and non-profits looking for grants. "Anyone is welcome," says the Center's Ben Poole. 

Once a client comes in, the Center's staff can help them understand how they can better compete for City-funded contracting opportunities, make sense of the paperwork they need to fill out, or identify and pursue contracting opportunities. 

However the Center doesn't stop there. Once a business is successfully performing under a contract, they continue to get support at every turn. This could mean providing access to computers so small businesses owners can research new projects, counseling on how to deal with gaps in workflow, or illuminating how to capture and cover business costs. To this end, the Center offers experienced advisers for one-on-one counseling, workshops, and training sessions. 

"The focus is to make sure that the existing small business community is maximizing their opportunities either as subcontractor or as a prime," says Poole. "It's about helping contractors wherever they are in the process." 

Staffed and directed by SFPUC employees from the Workforce and Economic Program Services Bureau of the Infrastructure Division, the Center coordinates with other city agencies, such as the Department of Public Works, the Municipal Transportation Authority, the Airport, and the Port of San Francisco. Through this interconnected web, the Center keeps a comprehensive list of all City-funded contracting opportunities up to date. 

Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services (MWIS) plays an important role in services that the Center provides. As a consultant, MWIS helps local businesses by providing guidance and resources around the successful Surety Bond Program. With the shared goal of helping small businesses succeed, Merriwether & Williams also assists the Center by coordinating networking events and trainings. 

The Center's commitment to small business is clear. In June, it co-hosted two networking events that gave small, local businesses the unique chance to meet prime contracting firms. The first was a collaboration with the Coalition for Economic Equity (CEE), a San Francisco-based organization that represents the interests of women and minority-owned businesses. On the heels of that, the second event was co-hosted by the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC), an organization that represents women and minority-owned construction contracting firms and advocates for their inclusion in public contracting.  

After these two successful events, the Center is focused on additional opportunities this fall, including more networking events, training classes, as well as providing information about upcoming contracts, such as WD-2506 8-Inch Ductile Iron Pipe Main Installation on Clement Street from Arguello Boulevard to 14th Avenue and Arguello Boulevard from Lake Street to Geary Boulevard, and a related project, WD-2745 Auxiliary Water Supply System, New Cisterns D. Information on all projects, including the SFPUC Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP), are available on the Center's website: sfwater.org/acp.  

Phone: (415) 467-1040        Email: acp@sfwater.org      

About the Contractor Assistance Center

San Francisco is poised to invest billions of dollars into the City's aging public infrastructure - water, sewer, roads, and transit systems. Local and small businesses will need tools and resources to adequately get access to, compete for, and perform on these contracting opportunities

The Contractors Assistance Center will help businesses take advantage of these opportunities. Offering a range of services, from technical assistance and classroom training to networking events and one-on-one counseling, the Center tailors its offerings to the specific needs of new and existing business owners.


In the Center, professional service firms, construction companies, vendors, and suppliers now have a unique and free resource that supports the City's economic vitality and strengthens its neighborhoods, commercial corridors, and the San Francisco workforce.

Phone: (415) 467-1040   

Fax: (415) 467-1041

Email: acp@sfwater.org      

Free Workshop

Join Us at Our Monthly Bonding 101 Workshop

Each Month we hold a Bonding 101 Seminar on the 3rd Wednesday of every month! 

Join us 
November 19th, 2014
10:00am - Noon 

Contract Monitoring Division (CMD)
30 Van Ness Avenue, 2nd Floor, Suite 200, San Francisco, CA 94102

For More Information or to RSVP, Please contact 415-986-3999, or Bond@imwis.com
City & County of San Francisco Surety Bond & Finance Program

415-986-3999 - Phone
Bond@imwis.com - Email
550 Montgomery Blvd, Suite 550
San Francisco, CA 94111
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