What happens when two large personalities join forces? The business thrives! In March 1981 Jack Brown and Larry Rogers became equal partners in a business known as Title Services of Northwest Florida.
Jack served the role of silent partner, while Larry managed the company. Business was thriving and everyone was content until a tragedy occurred. In December 1985 Larry died unexpectedly in an auto accident in Bascom. The staff and community was devastated by his loss. According to Jay James, “Mr. Rogers was highly respected and Mr. Brown thought the world of him.” This left Jack as the sole owner, who immediately began hiring more staff.
In May 1986 Jay Mitchell began working for Jack while attending Chipola College and the Florida State University Panama City Campus. Born and raised in Marianna and a graduate of Marianna High School, Jay was a perfect fit for the position of secretary. In 1989 Jay’s parents encouraged her to move to Tallahassee and complete her degree in Psychology from Florida State University. She took a three year break to follow her family’s advice and returned to work for Jack in 1992 as a Secretary/Processor, where her responsibilities include preparing title bundles and policies. That same year she married Robert James and they settled in the area.
As with many enthusiastic and dedicated workers, Jay James moved up to the position of Closer about three years later. In this new position she became proficient at preparing legal documents, managing closings and escrow, and dispensing funds. As time went by a mutual respect developed between Jay and Jack. In January 2006 Jay and Jack became 50/50 partners and changed the company name to Marianna Title Services. With this change Jack returned to the position of silent partner and Jay managed the business. Jay recalled, “Mr. Brown was still in and out of the office every day, but was not involved in the daily operations.”
On Feb. 27, 2019 Mr. Brown passed away. “I continue to be heartbroken,” expressed Jay. “He was my best friend, mentor, father figure and taught me everything I know,” she continued. “I owe it all to him.” Jay expounded how there is a huge void in the office now. “He was a big jokester and was always teasing the staff,” she recalled. With the passing of Jack, Jay is in the process of becoming sole owner.
If you are unfamiliar with title companies, you may be curious about what takes place in a title office. Marianna Title Services can provide Title Insurance, which is usually needed for refinancing real estate, obtaining a loan or purchasing property. This is a thirty-year or good root deed search, to come up with a chain of title. The company has an Abstractor/Searcher dedicated to examining documents at the court house. Title insurance protects the property owners to ensure there are no outstanding liens or gaps in deeds. The company also offers Owners and Encumbrance (O & E) Searches, which identify owners, liens and judgements on the property. According to Jay, Mariana Title Company will act as a non-representing, unbiased, third party and hold any earnest money deposits during the purchase. Finally, the company will handle courtesy closings. “What we do is very important,” she clarified, “and the information is treated securely and discreetly.” Jay admits how the work can be stressful, but she finds it rewarding to help people move into their homes. “I feel like I make a difference,” she added.
Jay went on to explain how she had three life altering experiences in the past few years: the passing of her mother; Hurricane Michael; and the passing of Jack Brown. “I lost two houses and the main one was my childhood home,” she sadly recalled. “We saved some of the bricks as mementos that we will bring into the new home plans,” Jay added. She explained how Hurricane Michael had renewed her faith, and her plans after construction include having “Bible scriptures placed on the framing” of her new home.
Jay, Robert and their daughter Allison continue to live in the community. “I love the community” she expressed. Jay must love the community because she is the incoming president for Altrusa of Marianna for the third time and she is involved at Evangel Worship Center. “The short time that I was living away in Tallahassee, I realized how much I missed and loved Marianna,” Jay clarified. “Family is important here and Marianna is one of the best places in the world to raise children,” she added.
Visit Jay and her team at Marianna Title Services at 2876 Madison Street Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm, and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office is closed from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch. You can call the office at 850-526-3197. What a great business to have in Marianna! Visit the City of Marianna’s website at http://www.mariannafl.city/335/New-Businesses-and-Other-Community-News to learn more about businesses and services available in Marianna.
Kay Dennis, MBA, MPA, A.I.C.P., is the director of Municipal Development for the City of Marianna.