Sun Title Takes Show On Road

May 5, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — With the fledgling company’s character embodied within its 100-year-old, award-winning renovated building at

1410 Plainfield Ave. NE
in the heart of the CrestonHeights business district, Sun Title was faced with a dilemma.

“We were struggling with how to grow the company into other geographic markets without diluting what we did here downtown,” said CEO Thomas Cronkright II. “If we were to go out and rent space in strip centers and create the same white-box vanilla feel that all the other title companies are delivering, it would dilute the very thing that sets us apart from our competition.”

The title industry is a starkly competitive one. Title insurance prices are standardized by the state, so companies are forced to compete on service and relationships. Many offer ancillary services such as printing or office management to tighten client relationships. Sun Title prides itself on experience: a salon in a world of barber shops.

As Cronkright explained, this presented a problem for the company. With literally a title office every mile between most outlying areas of the region and Creston, and two just on the stretch of

Plainfield Avenue
separating it from downtown, the company could not expect its clients to travel cross-town for a closing.

Indeed, few did. Cronkright found that over 50 percent of the company’s closings were done outside of the office. When the company began polling customers as to why they preferred to do so, the answer was simple and unanimous: It was just more convenient. Theoretically, a closing can be done on the hood of a car, not to mention in a client’s office.

“We thought, ‘OK, they want to close outside the office and we don’t want to have a bunch of offices throughout the state, so how do we raise the bar?’” Cronkright said.

Enter the nation’s first Mobile Closing Unit. A patent-pending office on wheels, the Mobile Closing Unit is a Mercedes Sprinter van equipped with computers, printers, scanners, recessed lighting, office furniture and wireless voice and data capabilities.

“The idea of closing on a mobile or remote basis isn’t new,” Cronkright said. “But what is new is the ability to provide all of the title services in real time away from the office.”

Cronkright explained why something like the Mobile Closing Unit is necessary.

“Suppose you’re refinancing your house and you need to close tonight or else your rate expires. The title company sends up a notary closer, and you’re sitting down at the kitchen table and a number’s wrong. It isn’t accurate, so you’re not going to sign it, and that notary has no way to make the changes necessary to get the deal done.”

The Mobile Closing Unit, however, does, boasting all the primary functions of a brick-and-mortar title office. It can even print checks.

The two units currently operate via a cellular Internet connection, and are limited only by the availability of a cell phone signal. Inside, all the equipment is wirelessly networked through Bluetooth.    

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