Secrets of Bonding 160: No More Performance Bonds

This is the Bonding Company’s worst nightmare. In this 160th article of our surety series, we will cover the situations in which no Performance or Payment Bond is needed! Some of the projects are big and federal, some are private, ALL are unbonded. Here we go!

As a point of reference, you may expect that federal, state and municipal contracts demand a Performance and Payment (P&P) Bond equal to the contract amount. Normally they do. General Contractors working for a private owner, such as the construction of an office building or apartment project, may face the same requirement. This can apply to subcontractors, too.

Federal Projects

This area includes all branches of the federal government. Examples: Army Corps of Engineers, General Services Administration, Dept. of Energy, etc. Their contracts are administered following the rules of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).

The FAR says that no P&P bond is required on contracts under $150,000.

For contracts $150,000 and higher that require security, there are times when the bond requirement may be reduced below 100% or waived entirely. These include:

Overseas Contracts
Emergency Acquisitions
Sole-Source Projects
If the bond requirement is mandatory, the FAR lists acceptable alternatives:
US Government (investment) Bonds
Certified Check
Bank Draft
Money Order
Currency
Irrevocable Letter of Credit
Here’s another option: For contracts performed in a foreign country, the government can accept a bond from a non-T-Listed surety. (Circular 570)
State and Municipal Contracts

The bonding requirements may vary by state, but generally their flavor is similar to federal.

Private Contracts

Anything goes. On private contracts, the owner has complete discretion to set the bonding requirements – including no bond needed. Keep in mind, the cost of the bond is added to the contract, so the owner can save some money by not requiring a bond. They may take other precautions to protect themselves. Some examples:

Require a retainage. These are funds that are held back from the contractor and only released when the project is fully accepted
Lien releases may be required each month to prove suppliers and subcontractors are being paid appropriately
Funds Control / Tripartite Agreement – a paymaster is employed to handle the contract funds
Joint checks are issued to the contractor and payees below them – to assure the funds reach the intended parties
Physical site inspections to verify progress
The Nightmare
In these articles we talk a lot about how contractors can obtain surety bonds and manage them. But it is interesting to note: A construction company could go forever, performing state and federal projects – and NEVER get a bond. It’s true!

If everyone did this, it would be the surety’s worst nightmare. But in reality, there are financial advantages to using P&P bonds, so bonding usually is the first choice.

Steve Golia is the National Surety Director for Great Midwest Insurance Company, an A-8 carrier specializing in contract surety.

The company provides Performance and Payment Bonds with speed and creativity, up to $10 million per contract.

Top 7 E-Commerce Website Design Trends of 2018

As evident by the numbers, the e-commerce market has grown tremendously over the years. Moreover, it is a fast-growing market with faster changing trends, which one needs to adapt to fetch the maximum results.

E-commerce, that once started with the sale of a handful of products, now encompasses each and every product imaginable. From books to electrical equipment’s – everything can be purchased online. Until a few years, back e-commerce was something that was conducted using laptops and desktop, but the past few years have seen an increase in the use of mobile devices to make a purchase from e-commerce sites. This has made it necessary for online businesses to have a mobile-friendly version of their site, as a result of which mobile friendly-commerce website development is on the rise. Besides the use of mobile sites, there has also been a rapid increase in the use of mobile apps. All these factors have contributed to e-commerce becoming a major part of the retail landscape.

With the growing importance of e-commerce, let us have a look at the top 7 e-commerce website design trends for this year.

Mobile-friendly design

Considering how important mobile devices have become, it is not a surprise that a mobile-friendly website design is one of the most important e-commerce trends this year. As stated above, the rise in m-commerce has made it critical for business owners to come up with a responsive design to their site. A responsive design adapts to different mobile devices and eliminates the need to develop x no. of designs for x no. of mobile devices.

Use of templates

In the year 2014, Google launched its “Material Design” motif, which is a template used for developing Android Apps. An increasing number of e-commerce websites are now using the same design principles that “Material Design” is based on. Using the “Material Design” motif doesn’t mean that your website will be identical to others, as there is a lot of scope for customization.

Efficient loading and layout

Efficient loading and layout of the site especially in the case of mobile devices should be a major concern among developers. This means that when a user opens the website, that what is important should load first. In the case of e-commerce websites, it is product-listing. So, instead of loading 100 products on one page, developers should focus on loading 10 products per page, and load subsequent sets of 10 if the user scrolls down further. One should note that e-commerce websites that load easily on mobile will appeal more to the users rather than the ones that take a lot of time to load.

Use of hamburger menus

Another trend this year would be the increase in the use of hamburger menus. Hamburger menus are typically defined by three horizontal lines, and they offer a convenient way to hide or reveal the menu, as necessary. This essential feature of the hamburger menu makes the site easier to navigate. The easier it is to navigate the site, the more appealing it is to the users.

Cinemographs

This year will also see an increased use of cinematographers on e-commerce websites. Cinematographers is a midway point between an animated GIF and a static image. It usually consists of an image with animated text over it, although in some cases a part of the image may itself be animated. Cinematographers are easier to load on mobile as compared to gifs. This is because when a series of GIF’s are added to a page, the data requirement or the load time goes up significantly.

Adaptation

Websites adapting to different devices is no news, but in the future websites may adapt to the user themselves. For instance, as per the age or the web activity of the user, the website will be able to show some elements more prominently than the others. In other words, the website would be able to re-order itself.

The elements of the site would also shift either to the left or to the right depending on whether the user is left-handed or right-handed. For people who are color-blind, the site may also alter its color-palette.

Use of grid layout

The use of grids in e-commerce websites is one of the simplest yet effective forms of design. Grids use the available space efficiently and are also easy to navigate. A growing trend this year would be e-commerce sites adopting the grid layout but removing the borders, thus allowing the grid to blend into the rest of the page.

Where Social Media Is Headed in 2018

Social media is a very new aspect of our businesses that has taken over significant parts of not only our marketing plans but also our personal lives.

Major platforms battle for prominence and significance by adjusting their business models to provide better returns for their shareholders while intending to improve the user experience.

As these systems develop, how you use these platforms for your business must change as well.

Social Media ROI

While certain trends are consistent, subtle variables at play can become game changers. Recently Facebook has announced adjustments to its news feed and if that matters to your social media marketing then you will need to account for that change.

For that platform brands and businesses will now have an even harder time connecting to users with no previous demonstrated connection to the company trying to reach them.

When Facebook originally started it was a free-for-all and at that point everyone marketing online pounced. But year after year it became harder and harder to reach any users organically through their feed.

Now even the paid reach will be more restricted making it even harder to drive traffic from posts to your business’s page or website.

If you measure the ROI of your social media efforts with an emphasis just on the Facebook platform then you may be alarmed when you see the stats start to change.

So how do you measure the return on your investment in social media?

According to Buffer, most measure by analyzing engagement with lead generation being second place and a sale being third.

As we all know measuring a conversion can be very simple or very complex but for most small businesses, it’s the former and amounts to ‘did they buy from us?’ or ‘did they contact us?

Moving forward the value of a lead may take precedence over engagement as platforms make it easier to qualify where the lead came from and how the user started in one place (social media) and wound up in another (your website).

Video Marketing

Another aspect that continues to attempt to move into a more prevalent spot is video marketing.

In 2016 and 2017 many predictions were made about video becoming more and more relevant to businesses. Many companies have started, and some closed, whose sole offerings were pre-made videos that could be updated for a business or brand to use.

The market hasn’t shown that businesses are warming to that and many small businesses simply shy away from the cost, effort, and risks associated with trying to produce professional quality video with a small budget.

It’s not impossible to do but it can go badly very easily. As a result, video marketing is still struggling to lure companies in. Though in Buffer’s same analysis, the users they polled stated they are interested in doing more video this year.

What Should Your Business Do?

If you’re planning on adapting to trends, then two things genuinely stand out. While there is no shortage of opinions, most self-appointed experts or gurus are guilty of self promoting while hoping their particular specialty will become more relevant.

Ask a video marketer and they’ll tell you it’s all video and YouTube. Ask a Facebook ads specialist and they’ll tell you it’s all about Facebook ads now.

The truth is the only two big stand outs that have shown they’re providing better results are Instagram (and Instagram stories specifically) and LinkedIn ads. Instagram’s user base has grown dramatically and LinkedIn will soon be offering video ads leading to increased relevance for both.

You may have a budget already set for your social media spending, but remember those are never fixed. Adjust and try attributing more to different platforms to gauge how effective it is for your business.

While it may seem laborious it’s really not that hard to take an afternoon to read up on any recent changes and adjust your spending accordingly.

If you find yourself too busy to bother or hung up by the complexity, it’s good to reach out to social media experts.

They can work with your SEO consultant, or if you don’t have one, they may have a recommendation in making your social media work for you to avoid just pumping out content for the sake of having it and hoping it will do something for you.

Make 2018 the year you really pay attention to your social media because more and more of your competitors are.

Getting ahead of them requires adapting to change rather than resisting. Once you do you’ll see much better results from your online marketing.

If you are brand new to using social media for your business and are ready to start but not sure where or how then please sign up for our Social Media Membership Program. It’s a cost effective and easy way to work with industry professionals while you study the ins and outs of social media, video, and online marketing.

Susan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.

5 Trends to Get Killer Logo Design in 2018

In this increasingly noisy world, where every day a new brand or product launches every second of a day, what would it take to make people remember you as a business or as a brand? A stunning, creative and memorable logo design with impeccable marketing tactics. Logo Designs is all known for such hefty job when it comes to do it all. Therefore, keeping your branding strong, modern and based over latest trends will not only give your business a competitive edge but will also perform exceptionally to attract more customers to your door and help them to recognize you with to experience similar ambiance.

Keeping your logo design contemporary helps businesses in many ways. It projects impressions that help people to identify you as a well-run and relatable brand and not like the dated trademark that does not communicate effectively. To draw attention to brands, business or even towards an advertisement, graphics, creativity, skills and all above concepts together creates a buzz and help your business to achieve goals of marketing and branding. However, when it comes to opting for professional logo Design Company, customers usually forget about the trends and demanding pattern in the design market.

Remember, a quality logo design is not always about a high-quality graphics or hues. A creative concept for the logo is barely born easily, so the cost you pay to professionals is not only about acquiring a symbol that is unique or different than the previous ones. It should comprise all the element, however, opt for companies that offer affordable packages and provide optimal quality services to design a perfect logo that defines your company, utterly.

Therefore, this article is here to educate both designers and customers to stay updated with trends that are going to sneak peek throughout 2018.

Creative Typography
In design, concepts either can make your first impression amazing or just the opposite of it. Therefore, creative typography allows today’s ventures to begin with something that has never done or seen before. In typographic logos, a designers’ skill matters most, however, giving the soul to design is all that one must strive for. In typography, regardless of which mood you choose to play with, either serious or silly, it is one of the top adaptive styles drive to create engaging visuals to get attention. A quick example would FedEx without which we cannot complete the list of our examples. Mailchimp, Cutting Room, and NME logos are considered to speak how these giants indeed choose typographic logos to define their business identity.

Apart from all the benefits that come along with this popular medium for logo designing, creative typography gives large room to play around with concept to provide a personality to the logo. It helps designers to speak-up their creative minds and builds a unique logo that is futuristic and versatile. If you believe in artistic values, then considering typography for your business to get it done in with the latest design.

Colorful & Vivid Logos
Grabbing most attention with monotone can be difficult unless a brand is not proceeding with resilient marketing strategy namely Dior and, Nike. However, recent logo design news we received regarding Apple Inc. logo speak about how soon we are going to multi-color logos in this year. Moreover, many popular platforms such as Instagram and YouTube shifted to new designing while sticking to the same frame of work with color, i.e., using vivid and vibrant hues. These examples lead us to comprehend the scope of bright and colorful logo design in the upcoming trends in logo designs.

Geometric Shapes
Typography is not the only characteristic of logo design getting popularization simplification these days. The definite shapes used in logos have recently seen with an increased focus on minimal geometry shapes, or geometry fashioned with a less-is-more approach. When you look at some of the gains of this style like versatile branding, you obtain visibility and modern concepts and ideas-it certainly clarifies that we should be expecting more in 2018.

Metaphoric Logo Concepts
Metaphors amaze minds instantly; with the design, it turns the concept into more creative characters. However, since it has been in trends for last few year, we know metaphors are probably not something new to logo designs. Subsequently, these metaphors are now expected to illustrate greater depth with impactful creativity in designs. These extremely out-of-the-box concepts have leverage metaphoric logo trends back in 2018 to amuse minds with curiosity, thoughtful ideas and unique perspective of design for any name it is expected to mold.

Subtle Animations
Years back when animated came into being; its adaptability amused people. However, back in time lack of animation logo display centers companies preferred to scale with static ones. In this era, from Facebook to website, it is easier, more attention-grabbing and animated-friendly space we have to display some of the creative concepts. Thus, keeping subtle animation to logo design seems to amuse and inspire if the concepts and design collaborate with subtle animate bring more significant meaning to logo design.

We hope that this article helped you acquire tips that will surely help you get started with unique and attractive identity. Therefore, if you are finding a team that help you get started not only with ideal logo design but, professional and eye-catchy branding then let us introduce our renowned firm Logo Design Valley.

In a nutshell, we are creative and professional team strive to help our clients raise their business with a unique identity and business persona to give your business credible reorganization in digital and print media. We spend our time to practice and master the high-growth techniques to provide you latest methodologies to excel with trendy design and innovative ideas.

Capsule Movie Reviews From the 2018 Florida Film Festival

The 27th Annual Florida Film Festival, produced by Enzian Theater and held throughout Central Florida each April, offers nearly 200 feature and short films from countries around the world, in addition to celebrity guests, special events, film forums, and parties. This year’s festival includes competing films in narrative features and documentary programs, plus special screenings of food films, international films, midnight movies, family programming, and Florida films. A sampling of reviewed films in various categories appears below.

Three Identical Strangers

In Spotlight Films. Documentary.

This compelling documentary tells the story of three young men living in New York who learn at age 19 that they were triplets separated at birth and adopted by three different Jewish families. Their strange reunion – combined with their handsome faces and outgoing personalities – got them on the cover pages of print media and invited on talk shows around the country. Their incredible similarities were noted: they smoked the same brand of cigarettes, liked older women, and were on their high school wrestling teams. They became best friends and lived together, and even opened a restaurant called Triplets. The story takes a dark turn when their three sets of parents start demanding answers about why the boys were originally separated. A journalist becomes involved in their case, and things get even messier. This story is told effectively through some re-enacted scenes, which are more utilitarian than artful, but they help elicit emotions in the viewer. Old home videos, news footage, and current interviews with family, friends, and researchers shed some light on the mystery of their separation, but viewers – like the brothers – are still left with questions when the credits roll. Directed by Tim Wardle. Stars David Kellman, Robert Shafran, Eddy Galland. Run time: 96 minutes. MPAA Rating: Not Rated. 4 / 5

Back to Burgundy

In the Food Films Sidebar. In French, Spanish, and English with English subtitles. Narrative Feature.

This heartfelt narrative drama captures the intoxicating ambiance of the French vineyard where most of the film was shot. Jean’s father drove him away from home with his cold criticism, and now 10 years later his father draws him back. The return visit has far more significance than the departure, because his father is dying. As his father’s life ends, Jean’s new life begins. The oldest of three children – all bequeathed the house and vineyard equally – Jean must decide if he wants to stay, rent, or sell his stake in the long-time family business. Using this time to sort out his feelings for his siblings, his relationship to his father, and the separation from his wife and their child, Jean is faced with important decisions, and this time he can’t just run away. Lush, rich, and layered, this film features beautiful cinematography, delightful performances, and a story worth telling. Enjoy it with a glass of wine. Directed by Cedric Klapisch. Stars Pio Marmai, Ana Girardot, Francois Civil, Jean-March Roulot, Maria Valverde. Run time: 113 minutes. MPAA rating: Not Rated. 4 / 5

Ramen Heads

In the Food Films Sidebar. In Japanese with English subtitles. Documentary Feature.

This mouth-watering documentary presents ramen noodles in an entirely new way for those not living in Japan, where a fanatical culture exists for the slurp-able noodles found in this everyday treat. The story centers mainly on Tomito Osamu, a chef who keeps winning Best Ramen awards for his unique broth that stews for three full days before serving. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of his tiny restaurant, he enlists the aid of two other well-known ramen chefs to help him prepare something special for that day. Just as his ramen combines a “witch’s brew” of ingredients, this documentary includes a little bit of this and that. In addition to Tomito’s professional and personal life, the film peeks inside other ramen restaurant for tips from their chefs, provides an animated history of ramen noodles, visits a ramen festival, and then returns to the 10-year restaurant anniversary party. It’s a strange mix of ideas that ultimately satisfies. Directed by Koki Shigeno. Stars Tomito Osamu. Run time: 93 minutes. MPAA Rating: Not Rated. 3.5 / 5

Borg McEnroe

In Spotlight Films. Narrative Feature. In English and Swedish.

This sports drama begins as a character study of Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason), the cool controlled tennis phenomenon from Sweden. Flashbacks reveal how he learned to suppress his emotions, which now threaten to undermine his 1980 attempt to maintain his place as the top-ranked tennis player in the world. Ultimately pitted against the hot-tempered American tennis sensation, John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), both men need to keep their emotions in check to master their opponent. The two actors seem perfectly suited for their roles – both emotionally and physically, they fully embody their volatile and athletic characters. The background story on Borg is interesting, as is his troubled relationship with his girlfriend, and McEnroe’s explosive temper tantrums establish his personality. However, by far the most engrossing part of this film is the Wimbledon championship as Borg attempts to achieve a record-breaking fifth-straight win. Directed by Janus Metz. Stars Shia LaBeouf, Sverrir Gudnason, Stellan Skarsgard. Run time: 107 minutes. MPAA Rating R. 3.5 / 5

King Cohen

In Midnight Movies. Documentary.

This clip-driven documentary reveals the raw, exploitative, low-budget genius of writer-producer-director Larry Cohen. While not much of his childhood or young adulthood made it into the movie, there is a brief mention that Cohen originally worked in standup comedy. The ability for quick-thinking improvisation stayed with him even when he left the world of comedy and branched out into writing for series television. After creating the premise and writing scripts for multiple TV programs (including Branded, The Invaders, and Coronet Blue), he moved on to independent filmmaking where he could be a triple-hyphenated threat making violent movies, such as It’s Alive, that really pack a punch. Often shooting without permits, permission, or insurance, Cohen is a true indie who doesn’t like to collaborate. Although his films and working style are examined thoroughly in this documentary that includes interviews with Cohen, other directors, and some of the actors who starred in his films, the man and his motivations remain much of a mystery. Directed by Steve Mitchell. Stars Larry Cohen, J.J. Abrams, Martin Scorsese, Fred Williamson, Joe Dante, John Landis, Traci Lords, Eric Roberts, Yaphet Kotto. Run time: 109 minutes. MPAA Rating: Not Rated. 3 / 5

For a complete list of films or to learn more about the Florida Film Festival, visit the official website.

Business News – From Newspaper to Internet

News media has evolved a great deal, from newspaper to television, and from television to Internet. Online media has played a large role in taking the news to much wider audience. Business media caters to a section of the society that is interested in this kind of news.

News, as some believe, tells what’s happening NEW and the NEWS word is just the plural of it. However, as per folk etymology, the word NEWS stands for all the four directions – North, East, West and South. In any case it tells us an update of what’s going on.

There was no proper media for news until the 17th century, when the newspapers came into being. The typesetting technology fostered the beginning of newspapers. Before that, it were the couriers who circulated the news. With time the new media kept on evolving. In 20th century, Business News emerged as a distinct stream of news.

The technology has evolved a great deal and so has the media for news, from Paper to Television, and from Television to Internet, more advances have come in the late 20th century than the rest of the history. With the advent of Internet, News has made its reach much wider.

Business news, as the name tells, is all about the business and commerce. Today, there are dedicated news channels, newspapers, magazines and digital media groups. This section of media caters to a section of the society that is interested in this kind of news.

With business news one can get

Updates about the Stock Market: There was a time when people lost a lot of their money in stock market through ignorance and carelessness. Now, with the stream of stock market news and experts’ advice on disposal, there is little chance that an updater investor would lose his/her money. News channels keep giving the updates about the trends in stock market. There are interviews with people who know as well about the markets as the back of their hands. This helps the medium and the small investor to minimize the risk while putting in their hard earned money. One also can check how particular stocks stand in the market and get instant expert advice by contacting the experts.

Information About Corporate World: These news networks keep a full coverage to what’s going on in the corporate world. They keep track of all mergers and takeovers and keep interested people informed. As the goings on in the corporate world have bearing on the stock market, it is important for the people to keep themselves updated about the corporate sector.

Budget Analysis: The budget gives an idea about the government policies regarding industry. This is the reason people are interested in knowing about the government’s outlook regarding various industries and budget gives enough indication. Hence, whenever the government announces the budget, there is full coverage on the TV, with complete analysis. Reactions from the common citizens are also accommodated in the budget. News channels simplify the budget report so that a common man can also understand what the budget aims for and what impact it would have on the industry.

Product/Service Reviews: Business news media provides the product/service reviews which tell us about particular products or services and advice whether they should be bought or not. These programs are very useful for the people who have little or no knowledge about new gadgets and services. More aware is the consumer, better is the service.

Business news media plays an important role in keeping the public updated about the world of business and commerce. Business news channel are usually region specific. One can easily find region information on the Internet, like Australian business news.

Keeping Abreast Of All Your Business News With Print And Electronic Media

If you think about it you can see that the news media has been evolving for some time. Business news was once only available in a newspaper, that changed when television arrived on the scene. Now we have the world wide web at our fingertips. For those that need to stay current as far as business is concerned, the Internet has ensured that information is just a click or two away.

By definition the word ‘news’ refers to the four points on a compass. This is rather interesting, because many people simply assume it to mean something different. However, its purpose is to keep the masses informed of what is going on in the world around them.

In the early days there was no way of providing news to the public. Thanks to the invention of the printing press newspapers and business magazines came into being. Over the decades and centuries since, the news media has continued to grow and expand. Today, business news is a vital and distinct branch of the news in general.

Even with all the advances that the news media has enjoyed over the years, none have come so dramatically and quickly as those that have occurred in the latter half of the 20th century. This is thanks to the phenomenal rise of the Internet, which ensures that the news reaches the widest audience ever.

Business news concerns all things business and commerce related. Nowadays one can make use of more than just business magazines, because there are whole channels devoted to this branch of the news media.

What Does Business And Commerce News Include?

1. Stock Market Updates – Lack of information means you cannot make smart and informed decisions, which is why many used to lose a lot of money in the stock market. In our modern times, stock market news is always available, along with expert advice and constant updates.

2. Corporate World Information – This means that the public can be kept abreast of what is happening in the corporate world as well. Everything is covered so that interested parties are kept well informed. After all, corporate happenings affect the stock market, so it is vital that people can be kept current as far as developments are concerned, whether these are mergers, takeovers, etc.

3. Analysis Of The Budget – Knowing what the government is doing regarding the different industries is very important. When a budget is made known it will be covered on television, in the print media, and online. So that the common man can follow what is going on, the information is presented in a simplified form, especially on television.

4. Product And Service Reviews – Business news also covers the reviews of different products and services. For those of us who are not clued up with all the latest gadgets out there, this information is very useful in keeping us aware of what is hot, and what is not. The same is true of services that are offered.