Presidential Acceptance Address of Sonia Kuppert

DSC01838I would like to thank all of you for attending this year’s convention, along with special thanks to all of our past Presidents and also, Pat Beale, from the ALTA Board of Governors.  Thirty years ago when I first fell in love with title searching, I would have never imagined I would be your new 2018-2019 President.

There are so many familiar faces here tonight I feel like I have grown up with many of you.  We’ve shared weddings, births, and even the passing of loved ones over the last 3 decades.  When I say that, it sounds like such a long time.  But it’s this time and these years that bind us; not only as colleagues but as family.  There are many new faces here tonight as well, and I’m so excited to have a chance to meet you as you become part of our VLTA family.

I want to talk about my family for a moment.  First, Ladies never smile at a guy in the courthouse.  Next thing I knew, here comes Kurt.  His exact words to me while working at the plat machine were “Hi, my name is Kurt, I have 2 kids and would you like to go out?” That’s what I call laying all your cards on the table at once.  Since we have been married almost 19 years, I guess I said yes.  Our daughter, Katelyn has become a regular face here at VLTA and ALTA.  She is a rising 9th grader and I’m so proud of the lovely young lady she is becoming.  I don’t know where these 14 years have gone.  Last summer, we packed up our motorhome and headed to Alaska.  What an incredible trip, one which my parents made 3 times.  Kurt drove all 11,000 miles and every day for 6 weeks, I got to tell him “where to go”.   Katelyn even survived 2-1/2 days stranded on the side of the road in the Yukon with no internet.  My younger brother is here with me also.  For those who know me, family is the most important thing to me and tonight, I’m missing 2 very special people, my parents.   We lost our Mom in 2016, just days prior to their 55th anniversary, and our Dad just a few months ago.  It’s sad that Dad’s not sitting here tonight, but I know both of them are smiling down on us.  My parents worked side by side their entire lives.  They drove to work together, worked in the same office, gardened, travelled the entire US, Canada and most of Mexico, and raised 6 kids.  They instilled three very important traits in me and all of my siblings:  Believe in yourself; work hard and give 100%; and finally family comes first.

There is a special group of people here tonight that make up my STA family.  First to my business partner, Jay.  I can’t thank your Dad enough for taking a chance on me 22 years ago.  Boy, have we come a long way.  To my staff, y’all are the best.  Once you are part of the STA family, you are always part of the STA family.   And to those that have spread their wings and moved on to their own agencies, I’m so very proud of you.

To my VLTA family, we may be competitors but we’re all in this industry together to protect property rights.  That’s why as a collective group we can come together to learn, share ideas, and make our industry stronger.   When Best Practices first came out, myself and several other agency owners met to discuss how each of us were going to implement best practices.  We weren’t there to compete but instead to help each other navigate these new regulations.  In March of this year, I attended ALTA Springboard and the education sessions were roundtable discussions on current issues like wire fraud.  Again, we were sharing ideas on how to protect our customers and our industry.  Stronger together.

So how do we grow our family and develop the next generation of title professionals.  Our industry is challenging and fast-paced, and offers many different areas of expertise from title searching, underwriting, and settlements. Some may say title is boring, but they have not experienced the joy of closing first time homebuyers.  They haven’t seen the feeling of accomplishment when an examiner or underwriter solves a really difficult title issue.  There’s nothing to be more proud of than being involved in the transfer and protection of property rights.  We all talk about attracting millennials and that will be our future, but don’t overlook all those prospects that may be wanting a mid-life change.  Individuals in their 40s and 50s can have valuable management and organizational skills, and with many postponing retirement until their late 60s and early 70s, that’s 20 years as a possible employee.

Professional and personal development is also very important to me and our association.   Looking forward, we hope to establish a leadership academy to develop those skills in our members.   Our certification programs offer a wealth of knowledge and show your commitment to your profession.   Volunteering will provide you with a closer connection to your peers and a deeper understanding of our industry.   I urge the agency owners here tonight to encourage your employees to become involved in all that VLTA has to offer.  The experience will make them more engaged in their career and our industry.  Become an active member of your VLTA family.

Again, I look forward to leading this wonderful association where we represent all of you:  title examiners, underwriters, processors, settlement agents, agency owners.   As one, we are stronger together.  We are family.

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