Knight Barry Title Acquires Title Agency in South Florida

August 11, 2020

Knight Barry Title Group is expanding into the South Florida market after its latest acquisition of Bailey Woodruff Title Company Inc. in Deerfield Beach.

Founder Mary Stefl owned Bailey Woodruff for more than a decade but has been looking for an exit strategy to retirement. The office becomes Knight Barry Title’s seventh Florida location.

Stefl worked in underwriting sales before establishing Bailey Woodruff after the financial crisis in 2008. She entertained conversations with several interested buyers but couldn’t find the right fit. Then, she met Craig Haskins, Knight Barry Title’s chief operating officer. Their first meeting was a “short lunch that turned into quite a long lunch,” Stefl remembers with a laugh.

“I wanted to leave my office in really good hands,” Stefl said. “Knowing it will be full steam ahead for my staff and my customers, is hugely important to me,” she said. “It’s hard to find somebody you trust to say, ‘Walk in and take over.’ But when I met Craig, I immediately felt like he was talking my language, and I loved his ideas.”

The fact that Knight Barry Title is headquartered in Milwaukee and has more than 165 years of history in the Badger State helped sway Stefl’s decision. Though she is a classically trained ballerina born in England, her husband is originally from Wisconsin.

“When I heard they were from Wisconsin, I thought ‘This may just work.’ I think we have the same methodology, the same honorable way of thinking and how we treat people,” Stefl said. “Our customers are No. 1. I’ve always tried to run the business with my customers and staff in mind. We believe in total honesty and total integrity of the office that we have built up here. That is our name and how we built our brand.”

Jeff Green, chief executive officer of Knight Barry Title, and Haskins are excited to be taking over a respected operation. They always say Knight Barry Title doesn’t grow just to grow. They search for companies and people who believe coming on board Knight Barry benefits all parties.

“Mary has a great story, which started well before she thrived in title,” Green said. “She’s a fascinating person who trusts us to build on to her success and take care of the people she has loved for years.”

Stefl got her start in real estate in Florida as she was waiting for her green card many years ago. A chance lunch then introduced her to the world of title, and she enjoyed a long career in sales for two of the industry’s largest underwriters. Stefl briefly contemplated retirement during the financial crisis, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to build her own title company.

Since then, she has built a business that is in tune with the local market and focused on building relationships with customers and community. Her office has always had international flavor to help cater to a variety of buyers and sellers. Deerfield Beach has one of the largest Brazilian populations in the United States. Stefl has suggested a fluent French speaker should be added to the team because of the number of Canadians who buy property in the area.

While she said she’s quite proud of everything she has accomplished during her run, she is equally excited to enjoy retirement. Stefl is staying during a transition period and her employees have accepted positions with Knight Barry. She is grateful for the connections she’s made over the years, which is why finding the right buyer was so important to her.

Stefl is also eager to see the new heights her team reaches as part of the Knight Barry Title family. Make no mistake though, she still has a competitive fire.

“If I were 10 or 20 years younger, I’d be giving Craig a run for his money here,” Stefl said. “But when you’ve worked with people for 10, 11 and 20+ years, you know them incredibly well, and you want to make sure they are all good and happy. Joining Knight Barry Title is the right move now for all of us. We’re all incredibly excited about this whole new chapter for our team and our customers.”

In addition to Wisconsin and Florida, Knight Barry Title operates in Michigan, Michigan and Texas.

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