Graphic with Alliant National Partner Profile logo and Rob and Claudia Skidmore

Partner Profile: A Commitment to Customers, Technology And Community Drives Success For Ohioan Rob Skidmore And Transfer Title

One agency owner underwritten by Alliant National recounts his long, successful career in the title insurance field.

Rob Skidmore knows his way around title insurance. The owner of several agencies underwritten by Alliant National, he and his employees serve aspiring homeowners in Medina and northeastern Ohio and are driven to help home buyers achieve their dreams.

His journey in the title insurance field offers a fascinating portrait of a professional life well lived, as well as how the industry has changed over more than three decades. 

Title insurance is a multi-generational endeavor for the Skidmore family. His father started Transfer Title in 1967, with Rob joining the business in 1985. He eventually took over the company with his brother. They gradually expanded the business, forming the joint venture company Transfer Title Connection in 2004 and acquiring Ohio Fidelity in 2018.

There were other factors behind Rob’s initial interest in title insurance, such as his passion for technology and computers.

“When I was in college, I had this class that required a spreadsheet. I created a settlement statement with macros that could compute settlement costs,” said Rob. “After graduation, I used it in business for maybe six or seven years before we updated to a new system.” 

His interest in technology trends has continued to benefit Rob and his businesses, prompting him to be an early adopter of new technologies to increase efficiencies, improve customer experiences and grow profits. One such decision involved implementing RamQuest software early on, which made them only the second title company to do so in Ohio at the time.

“I love the technology – the experience of building out our IT department, purchasing our own server and so on,” said Rob. “My interest has pushed me to be an early adopter, which has benefited our employees and customers.”  

Another factor that has influenced many of his decisions as a company owner was his background as a business major with a marketing concentration. Rob was immediately attracted to the prospect of overhauling his agencies’ brands.

“I quickly started working on our slogan, which ultimately led to a name change,” said Rob. “We also decided to do a major overhaul of the logo, which involved an internal focus group.”

Over the years, Rob has found his title career to be quite rewarding, especially the way it has benefited his community.

When asked if there is a central passion behind his work, Rob is unequivocal. “Absolutely. Our motto is ‘Insuring Reality, Conveying Dreams.’ People outside the industry don’t get that when you’re issuing title policy, handling escrows and doing closings, it’s a joyous occasion. Take a young couple who has the dream of starting a family. Or consider someone who is looking to downsize. It was their dream, and they are passing it along to the next family. In both cases, it’s an extraordinary thing.” 

Another way Rob has been able to better his community is through charitable giving. As a long-time member of the local business networking group, Transfer Title annually sponsors families at Christmas and makes a variety of donations to local charities. In addition, the company is a supporter of the Mary Grace Foundation, sponsoring its 5K run each year and encouraging employees to run or participate. The money raised during the event goes to families impacted by breast cancer. 

Transfer Title’s commitment to enriching the heart of the Medina community is perhaps best embodied in its support of Mainstreet Medina. A non-profit organization, Mainstreet Medina supports efforts related to the historic preservation, economic sustainability, and continued evolution of Medina’s Historic District as the community’s vibrant center. Transfer Title not only routinely sponsors Mainstreet Medina’s initiatives and events, but it has conducted title work for real estate revitalization efforts undertaken recently by the Recovery Center of Medina, which included pro bono legal work by Rob.

Rob has impacted Medina not only through his company, but also by serving on various community, business and industry associations. He is an active participant in the Ohio Land Title Association (OLTA) and has previously served as the President of the Medina City School Board, the Medina County Career Center, the Medina County Bar Association and the Salvation Army board. 

In addition to witnessing the positive effects his businesses have had on the community, Rob’s long history in the field has given him a front row seat to the evolution of the title industry.

“The title industry has changed a lot, and I have seen different eras come and go,” said Rob. “Recently, it has been a very profitable era, which is positive in many ways. However, there is increasingly a focus on speed, with everything being go, go, go. Less emphasis is being placed on expertise and working diligently through a process. Marketing and newer communication mediums like social media are taking more precedence. Now, both are important. Very important. But expertise and doing good work will always trump everything else.”

As Rob sees it, prioritizing expertise matters, particularly when it is not always clear to the customer how the title insurance process works and why it is a critical component of the closing process.  

“Sometimes during closings, questions will come up of how the company got involved. It’s important to properly educate the customers and remind them that we are here to insure their title,” Rob explained. “We act, essentially, as a guarantee on their claim of ownership. With a one-time premium, they are protected for life. As a third party, you need the expertise to work on behalf of the owner, buyer and lender. Simply put, it’s a very important function. We need to follow the directions of all parties, not to mention look at and assess all relevant risks.”

Rob emphasized that to succeed in the field requires building a team with the requisite expertise. But that is not all. Those working in title insurance must also be equipped to contend with the emotional intensity that can be a part of the closing process.

“Without a doubt, attracting and retaining top talent is one of the biggest challenges I face as a business owner, and we’ve been lucky to have some of the best staff in the business,” said Rob. “Employees need to know their field but also deal with the stress of closing on a property.”

Considering the complexity of real estate transactions, title insurance professionals must be comfortable expecting the unexpected.

“Quite often, things happen or there are forces at work beyond anyone’s control,” he said. “Thankfully, advances like ‘clear to close’ have changed the game and streamlined it. Technology helps.” 

As with anything, though, technology is not without its downsides, as cyber threats like real estate wire fraud have exploded in recent years. Such developments once again underscore the need for high-quality IT systems and experienced professionals who can safely guide consumers through the process.

“You’re only as good as your weakest technological link in the transaction,” Rob cautions. “Cybercrime is a huge problem in this field. Title agents must communicate effectively with customers about all pertinent risks. We have spent a lot of time and resources implementing preventative measures like encryption. But sometimes, old school methods like snail mail are still the best approach.”

Another piece of the puzzle is finding trustworthy underwriters with whom to build effective and mutually beneficial partnerships. In Rob’s case, one such underwriter is Alliant National.

He is particularly appreciative of Alliant National’s great technological systems. In addition, he noted that the underwriting relationship is often a key factor in determining what properties can ultimately be closed. He explained that not all underwriters are the same in how they approach deals or navigate risks.

“There can often be potential defects in the chain of title,” said Rob. “Some underwriters may not like that. But with Alliant National, I have a lot of confidence in their management, technology and, of course, people in navigating those issues.”

After more than three decades in title insurance, few people are more well-versed in the field or capable of commenting on its evolution than Rob Skidmore. Through building out his businesses, he has achieved a great deal of both personal and professional satisfaction and shared the fruits of his efforts with his surrounding community. He has also continuously prioritized what has always been essential to a good and lasting business: focusing on people, creating relationships and establishing hard-won expertise. These are the principles that animate him. They are also what he seeks to impart to those who may come after him.

“Whenever you’re faced with making a customer happy or doing the right thing, always do the right thing, even if you lose some business because of it,” he said. “Business always comes back in other ways. There is an old saying about how it takes a lifetime to build a reputation but a second to lose it. I couldn’t agree more. In title insurance, you may find yourself faced with such decisions. Always, always, always, do things the right way.”

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Cloudstar Outage: We’re Here to Help

AGENCY ALERT

Over the weekend, cloud-hosting and data security provider Cloudstar fell victim to a sophisticated ransomware attack. Alliant National was not impacted, however the attack has affected many agents across the country.

As a valued partner of Alliant National please know that we will make every effort to assist you and your agency if you have been impacted by this ransomware attack. During this challenging time, we are being as pro-active as possible by contacting customers and offering assistance.

Major title software vendors including Qualia, RamQuest, and SoftPro are offering hosting services to those affected by the Cloudstar attack, and there are other third-party vendors that may be able to help as well.

We have provided Alliant National forms packages to the major escrow software providers so they can be loaded quickly and easily into your environment if needed. The National Operations Center of Alliant National is on standby should you need assistance issuing individual Closing Protection Letters outside of your operating environment. We have our agency teams standing by to help you find a closing solution should you need a closing done to mitigate your reputational risk. In short, if you have a need, please reach out today to your Alliant National contact.

Please know that Alliant National will do anything possible to assist you and your agency if you are affected by this attack.

Additional information about this industry wide outage can be found here.

hank you handwritten card in An autumn gift basket with candied cranberry, home made compote, indian corn and sweet pumpkin slice to say thank you with the warmth of the season

Giving Thanks for the independent title agent

In 1789, the first Federal Congress passed a resolution asking that the President of the United States recommend to the nation a day of thanksgiving. But it was President Roosevelt who ultimately signed a resolution on December 26, 1941, establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday.

It’s amazing that it took over 150 years to settle on a consistent holiday, especially when you consider that giving thanks has been fundamental to our culture from the very inception of our nation.

Giving thanks is also a key part of our culture at Alliant National. Our people live the spirit of Thanksgiving each day. No one is more important to us than the independent title agents that make the American Dream possible. We celebrate your contributions to the lives of the families you touch and the communities you serve.

As an independent agent:

You protect the rights of homeowners and safeguard their economic liberty to own property and build wealth.

You champion the American virtues of independence, entrepreneurship and self-reliance.

You support important philanthropic causes in the communities you serve.

You take great care of your employees, who in turn, take great care of your customers.

You build a “legacy of opportunity” for all of those who walk into your office – staff and customers alike.

Alliant National recognizes your unique role in preserving our American way of life.

“Happy Thanksgiving” from The Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agent℠.

Freedom Top 10 FL Agent

Congratulations to Top 10 Alliant National Florida agent Freedom Title in Villages, FL

Congratulations again to Freedom Title in Villages, FL – a Top 10 Alliant National agent in Florida. We honored their amazing team during an awards presentation at a celebratory dinner.

Lisa Yates, Annie Hampton, Dea Hubner, Chris Pedersen, Debra Coffie, Brenda Cannon and Lindsay Harrison were there representing Alliant National, with Tiffany Henderson and her staff at Freedom Title. We had a great time!

View more photos on the Alliant National Facebook page.

La Maison Top 10 FL Agent

Congratulations to Top 10 Alliant National Florida agent La Maison Title

Congratulations again to La Maison Title in Tampa and St. Petersburg – a Top 10 Alliant National agent in Florida. We raised a glass in honor of their fabulous team during our celebratory dinner.

Lisa Yates, (Chris Yates – Lisa’s son) and Donna More Esq. representing Alliant National, with Angi Comas and her staff at La Maison Title.

View more photos on the Alliant National Facebook page

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