Lenders Advantage Moves Into Its New Home

May 30, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Lender’s Advantage, a division of First American Title Insurance Co., has moved and consolidated.

The residential title insurance and associated services provider firm has relocated to a larger building at 1591 Galbraith SE, a former Lack’s Industries plant.

The move gives Lender’s Advantage 21,600 square feet of space, about 50 percent more room than the company had at 695 Kenmoor and 500 Cascade West Parkway combined.

“They’re into an industrial warehouse and they’ve put in a mezzanine, which serves as a second floor because the ceilings are so tall,” said Randy Bronkema, a broker with S.J. Wisinski & Co. “This allows them to get a little more floor space in what used to be an industrial building.”

The move also allows the firm to consolidate its services at those two sites under the Galbraith roof.

“Basically, we wanted to get everyone under one roof,” said Senior Vice President David Kuritar of why the company made the move. “But it also gave us room for our expansion here in Grand Rapids.”

Kuritar said that Lender’s Advantage has added about 20 workers to its workforce over the past two months, so the extra space at the firm’s new address is just what the company needed.

“It’s working out real well. It’s a great facility,” he said. “We’ve converted it into a tech-center atmosphere, which is kind of a wide-open area and seems real conducive to all the employees’ morale.”

The company’s recent growth, Kuritar said, can be explained by two factors. One, and the more obvious reason, is the recent slices the Fed made into the prime lending rate, cuts that have prompted many homeowners to refinance their mortgages.

“The second factor is our market share. First American is earning a bigger share of our targeted clients. So not only did the pie get bigger, but our piece of the pie is getting bigger,” he said.

A.J. Veneklasen Inc. did the build-out of the Lender’s Advantage site. The firm is also developing the former Lack’s Industries property located near the Watermark Country Club.

First American Title Insurance Co. has 400 employees in Michigan and directly serves 19 of the state’s most populous counties.

The firm can trace its Michigan roots back to 1866 through the Burton Abstract Co. First American bought Burton in 1982.

First American Title is a subsidiary of The First American Corp., which has 400 offices in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Based in Santa Ana, Calif., the company has three primary business segments: title insurance and services, real estate information and services, and consumer information and services. The firm has more than 20,300 employees.

First American is traded on the NYSE under the symbol FAF, and had 2000 sales revenue of $2.9 billion with net income of $82.2 million.

“First American recently moved the national orders center here to Grand Rapids,” said Kuritar. “They’re in the process of still doing that. They found Grand Rapids to be a great area for business costs and worker productivity.”

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