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MAKING MOVES: Meridian Title owner Jeremy Burcham says his company plans to expand later this month by moving to the Frisco Building, at Chestnut Expressway and U.S. Highway 65.
SBJ photo by McKenzie Robinson
MAKING MOVES: Meridian Title owner Jeremy Burcham says his company plans to expand later this month by moving to the Frisco Building, at Chestnut Expressway and U.S. Highway 65.

Meridian Title plans Ozarks expansion

Company readies Frisco Building space while adding new offices

Posted online

A growing title company is positioned for additional expansion over the coming months in the Ozarks and beyond.

Owner Jeremy Burcham said he signed a lease for Meridian Title Co. and his credit compliance firm, Clear Audit Services, to occupy 18,300 square feet in the Frisco Building at 3253 E. Chestnut Expressway. He said the companies quickly outgrew 12,000 square feet of new headquarters space after moving to 1334 E. Republic Road in January.

Burcham said the space in the Frisco Building, formerly occupied by consulting agency Marlin Network, is in addition to Meridian Title’s headquarters. A May 15 move is planned, he said, adding renovation and relocation costs should tally $75,000.

“We did not have to do flooring. We did not have to build out a lot of things,” he said. “It was very plug and play from a usability standpoint.”

Grand plan
The Springfield expansion is part of a larger growth plan for Meridian Title, which currently has 17 offices, Burcham said. His companies are on pace for 21 locations in Missouri and Kansas by the end of the year, he said. On tap this summer are offices in Monett, Republic and Wichita, Kansas. He also pointed to a “strategic acquisition” in the works for six more Missouri locations and planned hires in sales and marketing.

“All our core national operations for Meridian Title and Clear Audit Services are here in Springfield, and as we continue to push into other states through organic growth, acquisition and other opportunities, we will keep our operational units centralized in Springfield,” Burcham said. “We would love to be one of the largest local employers in the coming years.”

When Burcham purchased Meridian Title Co. in 2018 from Randy Doennig and Stephen Adams, the business had five employees, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. He said the title company now employs 93 in the Springfield area and 152 companywide, which includes workers in Kansas City and eastern Kansas. Clear Audit employs an additional 50 people, he said.

Burcham declined to disclose the number of closings recorded for Meridian Title.

The rapid growth is organic and through acquisitions, he said.

Meridian Title Co. was the third largest title company last year in the Springfield area, according to SBJ list research. The largest was Great American Title Co. with 115 employees. Burcham said he has his sights higher than just being the largest title company employer in Springfield.

“My intention is to be the largest title company in the state,” he said.

Additional out-of-state expansion efforts are in the works, Burcham said, adding he’s unable to disclose specifics at this time.

The Frisco Building also will house Meridian Commercial, a recently expanded portion of the title business, and an event center that has a commercial kitchen and presentation area for residential and commercial agents to rent to host clients, Burcham said.

“Instead of going to restaurants and maybe getting crammed into space to try and do continuing education, lunch and learns, and meetings, we’re going to allow people to use that space to host those types of events,” he said. “They can bring in a caterer or chef to prep out of the kitchen.”

Republic record
Meridian Title isn’t the only local title company that’s grown into new space this year. The Republic office of Great American Title Co. more than doubled its footprint after moving in January to 958 N. Oakwood Ave. It was formerly at 941 U.S. Highway 60 East.

Alicia Adams, Republic branch manager, said Great American occupied the former 700-square-foot office for nearly eight years.

“When I came out here five years ago, I was all by myself,” she said, noting she’s worked with the company for 19 years. “Now we’ve grown into a three-person office.”

Moving to the new 1,700-square-foot space was a necessity to accommodate staff growth and work volumes, Adams said.

Adams said she’s coming off a record year for closings that shattered the company’s expectations.

“My goal for last year, I was supposed to get 389 orders, which are contracts,” she said. “I had 689. Last year was just crazy.”

She points to residential growth in Republic, now at 16,938 residents. The city is projecting the population will reach 27,565 in 2030, according to the city website. That’s a nearly 90% increase from 14,751 reported in the 2010 census.

Adams estimates roughly 95% of contracts handled by the office are residential with commercial comprising the remainder. Another record-breaking year may be on tap, she said, adding she’s currently averaging 10-20 closings per week.

“Probably the end of 2019 is when it started,” she said of the uptick in closings. “It just kept going in 2020 and was getting more and more.”

Burcham said closed orders also were up considerably companywide last year for Meridian Title. He said the year-over-year increase was over 600%, declining to disclose figures. Burcham expects another big year in residential closed orders for Meridian Title but said lack of homes for sale is a real challenge for the real estate industry.

Jeff Kester, CEO of Greater Springfield Board of Realtors, recently told SBJ there’s currently less than a month of inventory in the local market.

“There’s not enough properties out there for buyers right now,” Burcham said. “It’s kind of a Catch-22. There are plenty of people who would want to sell their house, but if they sell it, they don’t have anything to buy.”

Both Adams and Burcham said low interest rates should continue to make the housing market attractive to buyers. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.1%, as of April 27, according to personal finance website BankRate.com.

As Meridian Title and Clear Audit Services prepare to move into the Frisco Building, Burcham said he’s looking farther down the road. He signed a five-year lease with two five-year options. Lee McLean III of McLean Enterprises Inc. brokered the deal, he said.

“We plan to be a long-term tenant in the space,” Burcham said, declining to disclose lease terms. “This is the first of many steps we are taking to reface the title industry in southwest Missouri and provide additional value to our partners.”

Digital Editor Geoff Pickle contributed.

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