Ingrid Merriwether breaks the mold in the male-dominated insurance industry to help thousands of minority and small businesses
In the male dominated insurance industry, Ingrid Merriwether, President and Chief Executive Officer of Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services (MWIS), has built a thriving multimillion dollar business by fulfilling a niche in the industry.
MWIS is the link between public entities seeking to provide contract opportunities and qualified small disadvantaged businesses. The agency designs and administers a unique and Contractor Development and Bonding Program (CDABPs) on behalf of public entities seeking greater inclusion of underrepresented businesses in public contracting.
Merriwether has been advocating on behalf of small, minority, women, disabled and veteran-owned businesses for over two decades. MWIS specializes in property, casualty insurance brokerage, surety bonds and risk management consulting services.
Merriwether’s dedication to advocacy and inclusion is demonstrated throughout MWIS’ core business areas.
The CDABP was specifically designed to help small minority diverse contractors expand their capacity and prepare them to compete for public contracts.
MWIS has administered CDABP for several large public entities including the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Metro, Alameda County, and the City and County of San Francisco.
Over a thousand small minority and veteran-owned businesses have completed public works contracts with the assistance of MWIS Contractor Development and Bonding Programs. Collectively, these programs have enabled small and minority contractors to bid on over $1.042 Billion in public works construction projects to-date, establishing strong bonding credit and building the foundation for ongoing business success.
“Bonding can be a major impediment for small contractors to be able to bid and participate on Public Works projects. Our goal is to reduce that barrier and provide them with technical support to enable them to participate in the larger arena of public construction,” Merriwether said.
A small business’ participation in the CDABP not only includes assistance with obtaining or increasing bonding capacity and collateral guarantees for bid, payment and performance bonds, but also includes technical assistance, education, training and contractor support.
The CDABP provides contractor assessments, one-on-one consultations and works with contractors enrolled in the program every step of the way. Once a contractor is awarded a contract, MWIS provides a dedicated field support project manager to assist contractors with any technical issues that may arise.
In MWIS’ 23 years history providing bonding services, they’ve only had two contractors fail to complete projects. That calculates to a loss ratio of less than one-tenth of one percent.
Merriwether adopts the philosophy of Aligned Risk Management, which is an approach to risk management that manages and reduces risk, while creating opportunity and inclusion for underrepresented business sectors. The firm’s risk management consulting service provides construction safety and loss control. They are the owner’s representative for all construction safety at San Francisco International Airport.
Merriwether has taught insurance and bonding courses for business entrepreneurs. A highly sought-after speaker and subject matter expert, she frequently lectures at conferences, seminars and events focused on insurance and bonding, and aligned risk management strategies for greater diversity and inclusion in public contracting. Merriwether has earned her Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation and is a past member of the Board of Directors of Insurance Brokers & Agents of the West.
Over the course of her 33-year career, Merriwether has received numerous award honors, including being named one of the 100 Most Influential Women (S.F. Business Times), Fastest Growing Businesses in the U.S. (ICIC), Minority Advocate of the Year, and Minority Business of the Year.
Merriwether attributes her firm’s success to championing for the growth of small business owners. “From the start, one of the core components of my organization was to advocate for the interests of small, minority, and women-owned businesses,” she said. “Advocating for others connected me with the right people and placed me in a position to see where the best opportunities for my business were.”