Williams County Abstract Company:
A Successful Dakota Business Lending Borrower
Sep 16, 2019
The idea of figuring out all the paperwork required for purchasing a home can be a daunting thought for a new homeowner and can fill your mind with a billion questions –
What are the requirements? How do I know what to do? And, most importantly, how do I make sure everything is squared away on a legal standpoint? Unknowns can be scary. For many, these questions may be paralyzing enough to prevent them from going through with the purchase and experiencing the joys that come with owning their own home.
This very scenario is the driving force behind Lisa Engel’s passion…a passion that began when she started working for Williams County Abstract Company in October of 1997. Williams County Abstract Company is a locally-owned, full-service title company that has been serving Williams County, ND for over 110 years. The company works to provide abstracting, searches, real estate closings, escrow and settlements, and title insurances services to anyone looking to buy or sell residential and/or commercial real estate property, or refinance their existing property, granting a peace of mind to those going through some of the biggest financial decisions of their life – to buy or sell a home.
After many years of working at Williams County Abstract Company, Lisa knew that this is a company she would one day love to own and operate down the road.
“After working in the industry for all these years, I started to wonder about my boss’s retirement. After discussing it with my family, I decided to approach him and let him know that, when he was thinking he might be ready to sell, my family and I were interested.”
So in 2015, when John MacMaster– whose family had owned the company since 1948, announced their retirement, Lisa and her family jumped at the opportunity to take over the business. Three short years later, Lisa was approached with the chance to purchase the building along with it. She only had one minor setback – she didn’t have the financing necessary to make this purchase.
“My hope was to continue to build the business into more and continue giving peace of mind to the families who are making Williston their home,” Lisa explained. “Owning the building was the next step into continuing that legacy.”
It wasn’t until Lisa was visiting with a friend of hers who had recently purchased a business that she found the window of opportunity to make the financing situation a little easier on her and her family. Her friend told her about the SBA 504 loan – a loan program that requires a lower down payment and offers fixed, below market interest rates with longer loan terms – and she decided to dig more into it. It was then that she met Dakota Business Lending, who worked with her and First International Bank and Trust to make this purchase possible with the SBA 504 loan. Lisa also worked with the Small Business Development Center in North Dakota as well as utilized the Bank of North Dakota’s Flex Pace Program – a program that allowed them to buy down their interest rate by utilizing grants from Bank of North Dakota and the STAR Fund.
“We had been in our location for over 40 years and it was conveniently located across from the Courthouse…and we wanted to keep it. The Dakota Business Lending team were very knowledgeable in helping us through this process and were able to answer any questions we had, making the purchase a smooth process and helping us own the building I had known and come to love.”
Today, Williams County Abstract continues to thrive throughout Williams County. With a strong focus on customer service, they work to ensure their clients that everything is happening correctly during their closing. Since inception, the business has completed over 73,000 new abstracts, 10,000 closings, and almost 7,000 title insurance files.
Williams County Abstract Company is a company that places high value on their employees and offers them a retirement benefit package, with eligibility after one year of employment. Lisa believes that providing benefits like these to her employees are an added long-term benefit which helps recruit and maintain them for her business – especially the younger generation. “People will switch jobs simply because they found something with better benefits, so any benefits that can be offered in our area are a plus,” Lisa explains. “The younger generation seems to be placing more importance on retirement benefits and how it will affect their future. I think it helps that the contributions come out before they even see the money, making it easier on them.” Williams County Abstract Company will match up to 4% and encourage their employees to opt in as soon as they can.
“What we do is helping people,” Lisa shared. “Whether we are helping others purchase their dream home or the lot to build their dream home one, we are bringing families from wherever they are to be together here and make Williston their home.”
In addition to helping her employees with retirement, Lisa’s fire for helping people through the real estate purchase process remains burning as Williams County Abstract Company works to continue providing their services to the city of Williston and the broader county of Williams. She is forever rewarded by the fact that, each day, she is helping others through one of the biggest decisions of their lives.
By facilitating the preparation of documents that make this process happen, Lisa and her staff can be a part of this major decision in their clients’ lives.
When asked for any words of advice for those looking to start, purchase, or expand their own business, Lisa gave 4 key lessons she has learned over the years of being a business owner:
- Start saving your money now.
- Do your research.
- Ask lots of questions and make sure you understand the answers.
- It’s a long process – be prepared.
Because of the role that Lisa and her team play in the real estate purchase and refinance process, they have gained a unique perspective on what it means to own a home. This is why, whether you’re looking to purchase your first home or have lived in the same one for 50 years, she wants everyone to know and remember this:
“The key to your home is not just a key! It is a key to your dreams…a key to your happiness and laughter...a key that grows with sweet memories of your family. Cherish it.”