When Jeremy Burcham purchased a title company in Springfield two years ago, there was only five employees. But after investing millions of dollars into Meridian Title Co., Burcham’s business will soon have nearly 100 staffers.
He says the growth has been organic and through acquisitions, but declined to disclose revenue.
“We live here in southwest Missouri; we live in Nixa,” Burcham says. “We wanted to give a tremendous job opportunity to the people that live here.”
Burcham has been on a mission to fulfill that goal, beginning with the acquisition of Meridian Title Co. from Randy Doennig and Stephen Adams in 2018. Burcham says Doennig started the company in 1997 after having experience with title and escrow services. But after years of working in the business, Doennig was looking to sell, Burcham says.
The opportunity came at a time Burcham was in the market for a local business with high potential for growth. With a background in the mortgage industry and technology, Burcham says he was looking for a business that was underserved too.
“Title companies fit that need,” Burcham says. “Most title ownership of individual title agencies across the nation lack resources, technology, and a lot of the ownership is aging out.”
After acquiring the business for an undisclosed amount, Burcham says there was a 90-day transition plan for Doennig to decide if he wanted to stay on staff or retire. Doennig stayed, and he is currently “wearing many hats” in the office, Burcham says.
Throughout 2019, Burcham says he spent time updating technology and processes while investing money in a growth strategy. The title company provides property escrow, title and closings services during home purchases and refinances.
“We started hiring marketing, business development folks – making sure we had key employees in place to really start a growth plan,” Burcham says.
Burcham began the year buying Security Abstract and Title Inc. in Cassville for an undisclosed amount. Since completing the deal in February, he plans to add two people to the three-person team 60 miles southeast of Springfield.
His next move is closing on another title company purchase at the start of next year in the Kansas City market. Burcham has agreed to terms to buy First United Title Agency LLC for an undisclosed amount. The office employs 40.
The journey hasn’t been easy. Burcham says while the Ozarks is a great place to find employees, there is a limited number of workers with experience in the title service business. As a result, he believes in hiring based off of attitude.
“If you are a go-getter and you know what a title is, and you have relative experience in mortgage or banking or anything like that, we can teach you the title business and allow you to join our organization,” Burcham says.
Currently, Meridian Title Co. is the third largest title company in the Springfield area, according to Springfield Business Journal list research. Between the offices in southwest Missouri and the Kansas City market, Burcham says Meridian Title should average 2,500 orders for title work a month in 2020.
Since January, Burcham says Meridian Title’s Springfield office has recorded over 2,000% growth in the number of titles processed. He declined to disclose the monthly volumes.
While Burcham looks to take the company to a broader level, Scott Axon, broker with the Kingsley Group LLC, says now is a good time to invest and buy such companies. Axon has brokered both of Burcham’s acquisitions.
“The title companies just had one of the better years, if not the best year they ever had, and they anticipate that continuing into the future,” Axon says. “It’s caused by various things – interest rates are at historic lows and the real estate market is very active.”
Business brokers consider the title industry among those that are pandemic resistant. And it’s been part of merger and acquisition activity nationwide.
According to a third quarter Market Pulse survey by the International Business Brokers Association, there were 301 transactions of lower, midmarket mergers and acquisitions in the third quarter, a 71% increase over the prior quarter and a 43% increase year-over-year. Nearly 300 business brokers and merger and acquisition advisers completed the survey.
Axon says he has worked with Burcham since the beginning of his investments. He also has spoken with other title companies.
“We have sold several title companies and, of course, helped Jeremy in this growth by giving a perspective into the industry,” Axon says.
Before year’s end, Burcham plans to relocate the title company’s headquarters. Currently, the business is located at 4121 S. Fremont Ave., Ste. 152, but due to limited space, the business will be moving across the street to 12,000 square feet at 1334 E. Republic Road.
Burcham says he’ll also move his credit compliance firm, Clear Audit Services, which currently operates in Nixa. He has already hired six people in Springfield and six in the St. Louis area, where employees work remotely.
After 45 years in business, Northeast Diesel Service is fueling up for big changes in the industry.
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