Although the transaction closed two weeks ago, Unified Solutions had its 15-member commercial division already moved in and set up there before the papers were signed.
And just three days after that closing took place, Unified Solutions opened another office at 4251 Cascade Road SE.
With those two moves, Unified has now opened seven locations in the county since the company was founded a little over a year ago. The firm also has an office in Troy.
Unified President David Kuritar told the Business Journal there were two reasons why the company moved into the recently restored Goodspeed Building. One was to get closer to its clientele.
“Our commercial clients, many of whom are based downtown, really preferred to see our commercial escrow and title people downtown, for proximity and convenience for them,” he said. “As is our nature, we want to listen to our clients, and what they were asking for made a lot of sense.”
Gerald Hardebeck leads the Unified commercial division as vice president of commercial escrow. Hardebeck has over 50 years of experience in title and escrow services and 1031 tax-deferred exchanges. The division offers a full-range of services for its commercial customers, including national coverage.
“The other reason is that we wanted to promote the fact that this is our hometown and we want the community to know that we’re really the largest independent title agency in West Michigan,” added Kuritar.
Goodspeed is owned by Second Story Properties executives Sam Cummings and John Green, Todd Schaal of The Estes Group, and Todd Oosting of C.D. Barnes & Associates. They offer potential tenants a chance to lease space or to “condo” a part of the building, which means buying it outright.
And that is exactly what Unified Solutions did.
The firm bought the fifth floor of the six-level structure and now owns 4,500 square feet of the century-old building. So why buy?
“I think it makes a statement to the community, to our clients, and to our employees that we’re here to stay and we really want an ownership presence downtown,” said Kuritar.
Randy Bronkema of S.J. Wisinski & Co. represented Unified Solutions in the deal. Second Story has moved into the sixth floor of the Goodspeed, and a new restaurant — The Chop House — will open on the building’s ground floor next month.
Kuritar told the Business Journal that it was a good time to move into downtown with the new DeVos Place and Cherry Street Landing being built, and he wanted his firm to be a small part of what is happening in the central business district.
He also said the commercial division was a relatively new addition, but a vital one because it rounds out the company.
Kuritar and Michael Weightman started Unified Solutions Group in early 2002 after both left First American Title Insurance Co. in late 2001.
Weightman heads the office in Troy and concentrates on the company’s national business.
They report being very successful since they started, going up as fast as the way interest rates have fallen since 2001.
So, it’s fair to write that Unified Solutions Group has been going at a good speed. In fact, the pace has been rapid enough to land them in the Goodspeed.
“We opened the doors about a year and a half ago and I’m not sure what the exact number is, but we’re close to 200 employees now,” said Kuritar.
“We want to continue that growth here, adding jobs and using the business to help build the community.”
Unified Solutions Group LLC
Who: David Kuritar and Michael Weightman, principals
What: Holding company for United Title and Settlement
When: Founded in 2002
Where: 3777 Sparks Drive, headquarters. Other locations at 4251 Cascade Road SE, 32 44th St. SW, 6009 West River Road NW, 330 Kinney NW and 2880 East Beltline Ave. NE.
Why: Purchased fifth floor at 190 Monroe Ave. NW for commercial division.
Services: Title services, settlement services, contract services and CRM services. Online at unifiedllc.com.