When they were playing Division I soccer at Texas Christian University, Matthew Lopez and Jon Meyers discovered they played better as a team. “I wouldn’t have started as forward my freshman year and neither would he,” Meyers says. “It was the fact that we had a mentality together, a work ethic together that was powerful.”
For two and a half years, Lopez and Meyers tapped that same dynamic to break into the Dallas-Fort Worth title business, a world with a handful of dominant players, regulated pricing, and little daylight for upstarts to operate in.
After finding the right way to differentiate themselves in what’s understood as a commodity business, MBL Title has closed more than 1,200 transactions worth more than $2.5 billion in insured value. Fourteen staffers including several industry veterans are spread across two offices, one of them in Uptown.
Lopez and Meyers say a lot of strategic planning, sticking with what they know, and valuable contacts remain central to MBL Title’s growth. It also doesn’t hurt that the DFW real estate market—especially commercial, in which the company wants to specialize—has been hot.
Lopez, an Arlington native, went on from TCU to earn law and graduate business degrees at Southern Methodist University and worked as a transaction attorney at Hughes & Luce LLP. Meyers began his career at a private equity real estate fund post-graduation. “Jon and I knew we were going to do some business together, we just didn’t know when,” Lopez says. “We did a pretty diligent review and knew we were going to do something in real estate. That’s where our client relationships are.”
They passed on starting a commercial brokerage firm—after several mentors deemed it “too cutthroat”—before landing on the idea of a title company focused on commercial transactions. “We don’t come from money, and we didn’t want to raise capital, so the question is, ‘How do you jump off this cliff, rent office space, hire someone, and get the phones and copier?’” Meyers says. “We figured if we could land one deal, we’d have [a] four-month budget and we’d go from there.”
For both residential and commercial transactions, fees for title insurance are set by the Texas Department of Insurance, meaning standing out is a challenge. Lopez and Meyers’ solution? They present themselves as a title company that can not only close a transaction, but can also help clients solve problems with their wide relationship network. “We know people who can raise capital, who are debt providers, who can analyze deal structure, or provide other consulting, and they’ll take our phone call,” Lopez adds.
So while they’re focused on title services, which is their core competency, their backgrounds in real estate law and private equity bring some added value that might persuade a potential client to choose them over a competitor. “It’s almost off-putting to get an email from a title guy or gal,” Lopez says. “You just don’t want to come with your hand out asking for business.”