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.”
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.”
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.
Revival 98 opened a dispensary; the 101st store for Andy’s Frozen Custard Inc. debuted; and Collectomaniacs card shop consolidated two stores in a move.
Oftentimes it takes a while before your sidegig starts rolling. Barak Hill gives his experience slowly seeing his business improve, and how he used his connections and reputation to gain more clients. Barak Hill is a local professional musician.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares helpful tools and resources to use for the customer discovery phase of launching a new tech business. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Jared Rasmussen, Office Leader for Springfield and Joplin with the engineering firm Olsson, explains the vision of the Renew Jordan Creek Project. He says the city's investment demonstrates it's commitment to the community.
Both Jeramey and Julia Henson talk about their experience in PDR (paintless dent repair), and elaborate on the need for efficient time management. Sometimes you need to know when to move on to the next project. Jeramey and Julia Henson are co-owners of the HM Dentworks Academy with Chris McWhirter.
Jessica Oliva, owner of Pickles and Buns food truck and co-owner of Tinga Tacos, says not to assume you know everything. She says her time in the industry has taught her that she always has more to learn.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, explains what entrepreneurs should know about starting the customer discovery phase for launching your great tech business idea. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and startups and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Hollie Elliot describes the trends she sees in small towns after the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. She says that people see opportunity in these rural places they might not have seen before. Elliott is the Executive Director of the Dallas County Economic Development Group.
Sean Thouvenot, vice president of Branco Enterprises, gives an overview of what the process looks like once you have decided to invest in a new building. This video is sponsored by Branco Enterprises.
Caleb Scott, owner and coach for Queen City Insane Asylum semi-professional football team, talks about team cohesion. He says that despite the fact he may not look the part of a coach, the men look past it to see how they can work together.
Barak Hill, a professional musician living in the Springfield area, recounts when he first realized he could take his music career seriously. He recounts his journey to the point when he realized his passion could do more than pay for itself.