From a small office of 26 employees to more than 70 locations and almost 700 team members, Independence Title has grown steadily since 2005, when Brian Pitman and Jay Southworth started the business with a vision. Each already well-established in their careers, they took a chance on developing a business in Austin, TX, during very uncertain economic times. They surveyed the landscape and realized there was a need for a robust local provider of title insurance in Austin, with all employees local and responsive. Many national companies were outsourcing some functions to the Philippines, India, and other countries, which can slow down any transaction with complications. Jay and Brian felt that there was a space for building a business that is all “about the dirt we’re standing on together.”
These two co-founders also believed local staffing and decision-making would matter to clients, and they were right. By their second year of doing business, Independence Title was named the number one title company in Austin by the Austin Business Journal. The company now has operations in all four Texas Metro areas and boasts a strong commercial closing department, stellar education team, and cutting-edge information resources in addition to the top talent on the front lines. They are now affiliated with a national title group but have retained their local street cred and independence, backed by all the major national underwriters.
The title business is famously nomadic, but at Independence Title, the culture and core values on which the company was built make employees want to stay. According to Senior Vice President of Business Development Kara McGregor, “Fifty percent of our marketing team has been with the company for more than ten years. It is the culture, the values, and the leadership at Independence Title that make us stand out and make people want to stay. Jay and Brian have built the business on relationships and, most importantly, trust. And we have so many great tools and resources that help our sales team achieve incredible success.”
McGregor holds multiple degrees, including journalism, music, and broadcasting, and describes her experience in the title industry as a melting pot of many different backgrounds and skill sets. “One of the things I love about the title business is that it’s such a big tent, and most people find that they can bring the skills they have in their gift basket right through the door. There’s a place for creative people, technical detail-minded people, natural leaders, artists, coders, and more.” Whether working with clients, managing the sales effort in Texas, building a brand, or pulling out the tool bucket (literally), Kara appreciates the opportunity to wear many hats and learn invaluable lessons about people and how to motivate them to work together. She continues, “You can’t overstate the value of culture. If you build a great machine and have a respectful work environment that allows people to thrive and grow, you will build loyalty. And loyalty makes for both a great individual work experience and builds profitability for the company.”
The well-oiled machine of Independence Title does more than make for a great place to work. According to Eric Phillips, who has been a hero in keeping the boat in the water, “one of the things I love about Independence is the number of women leaders we have. They do a fantastic job, and I think that more companies should do what we’re doing,” Leadership at Independence Title is nurtured from within, with a robust education department that helps employees develop the skill sets to advance their careers.
Independence Title has a very large presence in the Greater Austin area, with a high concentration of brick-and-mortar offices. Similarly, all regions, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, have the infrastructure to serve clients’ needs. “We are enmeshed in, supported by, and supportive of our communities, and that is everything,” says McGregor. “We win clients one person at a time, whether that’s a real estate agent or a loan officer or a builder or a developer. It’s very much a one-on-one relationship business. That means we have to be in and of the communities we serve to succeed.”
Independence’s philanthropy is primarily geared toward organizations serving specifically these local communities. Those efforts may include teaming up with clients to work on a sustainable farm that supplies produce to food banks, volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, cleanup efforts in parks, toy drives for foster kids, or clothing drives for Dress for Success. “We recruit our clients to step into that space with us and work for the communities that have been so good to us through all these years.”
And Independence Title is still growing! With a strong and supportive value system, a track record of promoting within, and an effective training program, Independence Title is looking for individuals to become part of the culture. Contact them at https://independencetitle.com/contact/ to learn more.