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Jim Bernhard, chief executive officer of Bernhard Capital Partners, in his office in Baton Rouge on Sept. 11, 2018. 

A group of investors led by Baton Rouge-based Bernhard Capital is making a "significant investment" in a Metairie insurance business that specializes in selling surety bonds to contractors. 

The amount of the investment in The Gray Casualty & Surety Co. was not disclosed. The company was founded in 2003.

The announcement was made by Bernhard Capital Partners Management and The Gray Insurance Co., a family-owned business founded in 1977 that offers workers’ compensation, commercial auto, general liability and excess liability coverage in 50 states.

Bernhard Capital was founded in 2013 by former Shaw Group chief executive Jim Bernhard, Jeff Jenkins and a group of private-equity professionals to acquire, operate and grow services and infrastructure businesses. The firm raised $750 million for its first private equity fund three years later. A second $1.2 billion fund controlled by Bernhard Capital closed in 2019.

"This insurance platform will serve as a natural extension of our construction and infrastructure expertise," Jim Bernhard said in a statement.

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Gray Surety underwrites contract bonds for small and mid-sized contractors nationwide with annual revenue under $30 million. These bonds are used during construction projects to ensure payment of subcontractors. The company also underwrites commercial bonds for licenses, permits and other regulatory requirements. The company has offices in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Arizona.

Members of the Gray family will continue to run the business. 

The deal would enable Gray Insurance to capture more of the market with the influx of capital, said Michael T. Gray, chief executive officer and president of Gray Insurance.

Bernhard Capital already owns a stake in Lafayette-based general contractor The Lemoine Co. after a deal closed in 2019. Bernhard Capital portfolio companies also include Bernhard LLC in Metairie; Brown and Root in Baton Rouge; Allied Power in Baton Rouge; National Water Infrastructure in Ascension; Atlas Technical Consultants in Austin, Texas; Bernhard Energy Solutions in Baton Rouge; Charah Solutions in Louisville, Kentucky; Epic Piping in Livingston; and United Utility in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The worldwide portfolio companies under Bernhard Capital employ more than 18,000 people.


Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.