Holden Heil And Clark Pulliam: Young Trailblazers Of The Commercial Title Industry
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Holden Heil joined Chicago Title Insurance’s Dallas sales team 12 years ago. Fresh out of college, he was the youngest and least experienced member of the team. It was a first for a company that traditionally sought brokers with a business network spanning decades.
“They had never hired a 23-year-old kid,” he said. “I was very fortunate and have not looked back since.”
Neither has Chicago Title.
Real estate professionals depend on title insurance teams to successfully navigate the escrow process. Where CRE goes, title insurance companies follow. In 2005, the year Heil was hired, the industry took on a more youthful perspective, replacing the hegemony of older CEOs with committees of 30- and 40-year-olds. Armed with MBAs and billion-dollar portfolios, the newest crop of decision-makers looked to do business with their peers.
Heil, whose father worked in the Dallas real estate market, is part of that next generation.
“The title side gave me an opportunity to be in the space from a service provider perspective,” he said. His first few days were overwhelming. “The title insurance business is relationship-driven, and I had to prove very early on that I had the product knowledge and that I was able to explain to them where we add value."
To maintain those relationships, Heil flies around the country every other week as vice president and manager of the Dallas business development team.
Director of commercial operations and counsel Clark Pulliam also has generational ties to the industry. His father worked in title insurance. Pulliam initially worked for eight and a half years as a CRE attorney at a Dallas law firm.
“I never really gave title insurance a second thought, because I never wanted to ride my father’s coattails,” he said. After a phone call from Heil, his opinion changed. “The fact that [Chicago Title was] embarking on this new mission to bring some youth to the organization sealed the deal.”
Pulliam joined Chicago Title in 2014.
Pulliam and Heil have tapped into what the changing CRE demographic prioritizes. Chief among these needs: expediency. This was a shift from the old way of doing business.
“You used to meet with a client, have lunch, maybe a cocktail, and that would take two or three hours,” Heil said. “Nobody does that anymore. When you sit down with a client, you need to identify the point of the meeting.”
Pulliam and Heil also recognize that knowledge flows both ways. The sales and escrow teams rely on seasoned veterans to help train new associates.
“On the escrow team, we recently mixed up the groups to make sure that everyone is getting trained,” Pulliam said. “Instead of taking three years to become fully functional, now they get up to speed within a year.”
The Dallas office encourages teamwork in an industry that has long favored individualism. “We are going to tailor-make the teams that are going and pitching the business.” Heil said. Teams are often interdisciplinary. “We may have two or three people working on one account, and one might be from the sales side while another might be from the escrow side.”
Title insurance companies in Texas compete on the basis of customer service, not rates, which remain fixed by law. Having a team that is prepared to meet every challenge is essential for continued business. Pulliam has the advantage of having been the customer and knows what clients look for in a title insurance company.
“There are times when we have to tell a customer no, but if you are able to fully explain why and provide options, that is what sets our customer service apart," he said.
Having both the resources of a large company and the flexibility of a local office makes this possible. “We don’t have to report to somebody every day, as long as numbers are where they need to be, nobody questions our process,” Pulliam said. “We have the freedom and latitude to run this office however we choose.”
In their own Chicago Title outpost, Pulliam and Heil have the autonomy to forge new paths in CRE.
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