Location: 400 Wisconsin Ave., Racine
Year Founded: 1854
Product or Service offered: Knight-Barry Title Group has a history of providing fast, accurate cost-competitive services to commercial and residential customers in the areas of title insurance, tax-deferred exchanging, closing services and construction escrows.
Projected 2010 Revenue: Not disclosed
President and CEO: Jeffrey Green, co-owner
Other key leadership members: Estelle Siegman, vice president of finance and co-owner; Craig Haskins, executive vice president
Target Clientele: Lenders, real estate agents, attorneys, builders, developers, municipalities and real property owners.
Business Organization Memberships: Wisconsin Land Title Association, American Land Title Association, the Chamber of Commerce & Rotary Clubs in several communities, Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association, Commercial Association of Realtors, Women in Commercial Real Estate
What has fueled your company’s growth?
“Technology has certainly helped. We’ve written and developed title and closing software that is completely internet based in order to give our clients better access to real estate and closing records. We have assembled a top notch staff with managerial expertise in each division of the company. We have rapidly expanded the footprint of our services to key growth locations in Wisconsin. We have continually stressed the importance of providing the highest level of customer service at every point of contact. We have become the go to experts on title problems with foreclosure which means lenders and lawyers have come in droves to work with us in the soured real estate economy of the past few years. Additionally, our company created a national division in 2007 to assist with high end commercial real estate projects outside of Wisconsin. This proved to be a good move for us as the new division is growing faster than expected. As an independent agent we are not influenced by umbrella type agreements that impact pricing and service of many of our competitors.”
What has been the biggest obstacle to your company’s growth?
“Our company, and the entire title insurance industry, is very dependent on low interest rates. Real estate transactions are the key to our business. So if homes aren’t selling and people aren’t mortgaging their property, the title industry suffers too. However, our company has recession-countering products like foreclosure reports and municipal projects. When the state of Wisconsin or a local municipality desires to widen a road or build a highway, it needs the services of a title company to assist in the acquisition of the land.”
Do you have any planned changes for your company in the coming months?
“We wish to maintain our aggressive expansion in Wisconsin by entering the few Wisconsin markets we are not active in. Additionally, an expansion to neighboring states is in the works.”
Who are the business people, locally or nationally, whom you admire? What traits do those people exhibit that make you admire them?
“Ray Burger, a former agency representative for Chicago Title, played a tremendous role in persuading me to enter the title industry. His honesty, integrity and his respect and appreciation for the people he did business with was commendable. I admire him for how he conducted business because it was more about relationships versus dollars and cents. He was a true advocate for the agents he represented.”
What is the outlook for the business conditions of your industry over the next several months?
“The outlook is different in each division. In the residential division, refinances are very strong as interest rates are insanely low this summer. However, homes sales have seemed to taper off in the absence of the government’s home buyer credit. In the foreclosure department, orders keep piling up as lenders continue to initiate foreclosure actions on both residential homes and commercial developments. The reports that track housing activity and prices seems to be stabilizing, more so in Wisconsin than many parts of the country. Should this trend continue we will see business conditions slowly improve.”
What has been your company’s key strategy for rising out of the recession?
“First of all, our company cannot and would not have grown without knowledgeable and dedicated staff. KBT will focus on retaining our great employees by providing a positive, productive and flexible work environment. It is also critical to develop multiple strategies to adapt to local, regional and national business demands. Given our company’s vast footprint throughout the state we are very aware of those in our industry that are successfully navigating through these challenging times. We are constantly finding new ways to help make our business partners more efficient, profitable, and successful. Of course, to adapt to today’s business climate, you need to invest in technology. Knight-Barry has embraced this by becoming a leader in technology for our industry.”
Congratulations from the strategic partner behind Knight-Barry Title, Inc.