Scott Stevenson - Iron Will

For over 40 years now, title insurance has been the livelihood for two subsequent generations of the Stevenson family-they've witnessed the birth of the industry, watched technology revolutionize that industry, led the exodus of title businesses out of downtown and into the suburbs, and have seen more ups and downs in the real estate market than they care to count. In fact, according to OSU Alum Scott Stevenson, who's gone from apprentice to office assistant to general counsel to President of Northwest Title, "It seems like you're either born into this industry or fall into it somehow," he says.

And yet, for as ubiquitous as title insurance is, it's amazing how few people understand it. As Stevenson explains, the business's "escrow side" has the company serving as the receptacle for all information collected on a homeowner's behalf by the mortgage lender and the realtor. On the "title side" of the business, Stevenson thinks of his company as a risk eliminator. "We're not like auto insurance which protects you from what may happen in the future," he says, "we protect you from what has already happened—such as tax liens, or losing judgments in litigation." In short, this type of insurance ensures everything is in proper order and that problems are corrected before closing.

As you may expect from the current headlines regarding the nation's mortgage crisis, the title industry has been hit hard with agents getting out of the business all over Ohio. Yet from Stevenson's upbeat nature and forward-thinking vision, you'd never know the industry was at such a crossroads. "It's a tough time, but we try to stay positive," he says. "Every Tuesday we have a ‘what's working' conference call." And with growing residential communities such as Marysville, Granville and Lancaster, Northwest Title is planning on expanding in the future. "This is a service business, and we have to go where the clients are," he says. "If there's one positive thing [regarding the industry's downturn] it's that it keeps people in the industry who really love it."