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Rochester Top 100: Merger revs up growth at Brighton company

Rochester Business Journal
October 11, 2013

WebTitle Agency's offices were moved to Brighton less than 14 months ago because it needed more space for its 145 employees.
 
The company's head count is up to 180 now, President John Nitsche said.
 
"Our new facility here is 30,000 square feet, and we've almost filled it," he said.
 
WebTitle, which does legal research for real estate entities, is at 500-A Canal View Boulevard in the Canal View Office Park off Brighton-Henrietta Town Line Road. It moved from the Knowlton Building on Cascade Drive.
 
"We enjoyed being in the city," Nitsche said. "We had about 15,000 square feet there. But we were literally sitting on top of each other.
 
"We have some space available within the (current location) for some small growth, maybe like 20 more people. Then there are opportunities within this commercial development to take on additional space."
 
Additional space might soon be needed, given the company's history.
 
Rochester Equity Partners Inc., which does business as WebTitle, was formed in October 2005. It is a partnership between WebTitle, a title insurance agent, and Cascade Settlement Agency, a provider of closing and settlement services.
 
WebTitle merged with Customized Lender's Services Inc. in June 2012, adding 12 employees. David Gutmann was co-CEO and general counsel at CLS and is now executive vice president and managing counsel for WebTitle.
 
CLS focused on mortgage-closing services.
 
"The thing my partner and I were looking for, and part of the reason for us doing the merger, was we were light on the sales side and on the IT side," Gutmann said. "WebTitle, being a bigger company, was a lot stronger on those fronts.
 
"With what we were both looking for, we complemented each other pretty well. As a result of that, we've been able to increase the business since the first of the year."
 
Nitsche agreed.
 
"It's been tremendous," he said. "It's added additional depth to our product line. It's added revenue and profitability as well, and quite a bit of additional expertise."
 
Nitsche declined to disclose annual revenues, nor would he offer specific projections of future growth.
 
"It's hard to predict more than three years out," he said. "What we see is some long-term growth.
 
"We see continued growth, continued expansion geographically, which would give us additional market share. We do see extended growth over the next three years."
 
Nitsche started his own business after working for Public Abstract Corp. and Four Corners Abstract Corp. He started in 1983 with Public Abstract for three years, went to Four Corners for 10 years and then moved back to Public Abstract for seven more.
 
Nitsche is one of four partners at WebTitle. The others are Chief Operations Officer Kevin Whiting, Chief Title Officer Matthew Schuler and Chief Marketing Officer Alan Roides.
 
WebTitle distinguishes itself among title companies with its personal service, Nitsche said. The industry counterweight is the increasing complexity of government rules and regulations imposed by the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he said.
 
"The CFPB is constantly adding more rules to the mortgage industry, which trickles down to us," Nitsche said. "Some of the new rules that are coming out are just kind of putting a stranglehold on the entire mortgage industry, not just the title industry but being able to loan people money."
 
The most problematic, he said, is the Truth in Lending Act, which prohibits a creditor from creating a higher-priced mortgage without regard to the borrower's ability to repay.
 
"If a lender lends somebody some money and a couple years down the road the people default on the loan and the government determines that the lender granted the loan knowing that the people couldn't repay, the loan can possibly be forgiven," Nitsche said.
 
"The bank could be fined. It's going to be a lot more difficult come Jan. 10 for folks to get a mortgage. It will filter down to Realtors. It'll filter down to surveyors, appraisers, every aspect of the real estate market."

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year's Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 6. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.

WebTitle Agency
Conducts legal research for real estate entities.
2012 ranking: 95
Founded: 2005
Top executive: John Nitsche, president
Employees: 180
Location: Brighton
Website: www.webtitle.us

10/11/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


 


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