Growth & Scale Report: [FULL STORY] Jim Blair IV On How To Tell a Better Story in Title & Escrow
In the colorful tapestry of the title and escrow industry, nearly every individual carries a unique tale of how Title found them when they least expected it. As the saying goes, “You don’t find title. Title finds you.”
This sentiment holds true for Jim Blair IV, whose life took an unforeseen turn into the world of title. In his formative years, he aspired to be an operating room physician. However, fate revealed its sense of humor when he discovered his tendency to faint at the sight of blood. This realization altered his trajectory, setting him on a new course.
Over the subsequent decade, Jim ventured into diverse business endeavors. While none achieved the desired success, each provided insight into the creative process. From an ambitious bean bag enterprise (alas, thwarted by the emergence of LoveSac), a venture crafting horseshoe art, a distribution business for fresh seafood delivered to the Inland Northwest, a custom jewelry endeavor catering to the hip-hop industry, to even a startup brewery—Jim's journey was a canvas painted with entrepreneurial spirit.
Then, in 2015, an unexpected opportunity surfaced. His grandfather sought his assistance in implementing the novel ALTA Best Practices for North Meridian Title & Escrow.
What could have been viewed as a departure from his own entrepreneurial ventures' became a path into the world of title.
Jim embraced the challenge, stepping into this unanticipated role; albeit, a part time one.
In what can only be called destiny, within two weeks of his part-time initiation, the departure of a team member thrust him into a pivotal position. Through this baptism by fire, Jim uncovered the "old school" practices that underpinned the industry. Amidst tradition, his entrepreneurial spirit recognized a realm ripe for innovation.
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Jim’s story took an unexpected turn in 2019 with the passing of Jim Blair II, his grandfather, and founder of the company. As the torchbearer of North Meridian Title & Escrow, Jim faced the task of upholding his legacy. Amid grief, Jim embarked on a journey of introspection, seeking the essence of the company's potential.
Until that point, Jim described how North Meridian Title & Escrow mirrored the classic '70s title company, characterized by "escrow officers in desks." The company's fortunes seemed intricately linked to the presence of these escrow officers. Yet, the company’s rhythm came to a screeching halt when faced with team members’ vacations or sick days.
The new owner's revelation was clear: a grander vision, streamlined processes, and an unforgettable customer experience held the key to success.
In 2021, after two years of navigating uncharted waters and feeling like he was "building a plane while flying," Jim had an epiphany. "How can we stand out?" he pondered. The answer lay in shifting the narrative from Title to a compelling story and seeking some help from outside of the title and escrow industry.
A STORY WORTH SHARING
To craft a compelling narrative, Jim turned to former Disney imagineers at Storyland Studios. Their mission was to reimagine North Meridian's potential.
Pondering the question, "What experience do our customers deserve?" Jim and the team at Storyland Studios discovered a universal human desire – aspirations and dreams. "Our customers dream. Our industry partners dream. My team dreams. What if we elevated the conversation beyond selling title insurance and instead dove into discussions about their dreams?" Jim contemplated.
This revelation was transformative.
United by the dream, Jim Blair and Storyland Studios drew inspiration from George Washington's letters to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. These letters envisioned a world where individuals would find safety and prosperity beneath their own vine and fig tree.
“Every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
The journey wasn't devoid of uncertainties. When Storyland Studios proposed the name "Fig," Jim hesitated. Uncertainty loomed.
"I wasn't sure how to react," Jim reflects.
Yet, as he delved into the idea, it began to blossom. The name resonated with the mission and values he held dear. A path unfolded, where Fig became more than a name; it became an emblem of realized dreams and prosperity.
Initially met with skepticism, Jim's team gradually warmed to the concept, but as they unraveled the story of the fig tree and the prosperity it symbolized, the name gained resonance. It harmonized with the passion Jim had ignited within himself and his team – the passion to explore dreams and aspirations, not just title insurance.
In Jim's own words, "We aren't merely selling title insurance; we are offering a pathway to achieve dreams, an opportunity for individuals to bask under their own fig tree, a symbol of prosperity."
Jim’s voyage is a testament to the unexpected, a narrative of dreams redefined. A journey that led him from unforeseen origins to a story of dreams fulfilled, for himself, his team and his customers.
It's a reminder that sometimes, what we don't seek, finds us. Just as Title found Jim, he discovered a story worth sharing, a dream worth pursuing.
The Growth & Scale Report is published by CloseSimple, and explores strategies for growth and tools for scaling your title or escrow company. The report emphasizes the art of balancing growth and scale, with a focus on personal and organizational success stories. It aims to share insights from industry leaders who have navigated these challenges, providing a platform for broader conversations in the business landscape.