ALTA President: Title Industry's Finest Hour Yet to Come

October 23, 2009

Leading the American Land Title Association during a trying year and capped by testifying before Congress earlier this month, Mike Pryor offered his last presentation as president of the association to a packed room of nearly 400 title professionals during the general session Thursday of the 102nd ALTA Annual Convention at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla.

Urging agents to be prepared for any circumstance, Pryor shared some words from Winston Churchill: “To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder to do a special thing unique to him and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour.”

“Our finest hour at the American Land Title Association is yet to come,” he said. “It is in our grasp and is near term for us, but we have much preparation yet to do.”

During his speech, Pryor turned his attention to agents, urging them to make sure they are performing their jobs with the highest standards.

“Every time there is a bad headline, whether it’s a claim or an agent defalcation, it takes resources away from what we can do,” he said. “We need to make sure advocacy efforts help operations, not apologize for bad actions.”

Pryor thanked the efforts of TIPAC chairman John Vosso for spearheading the effort of raising more than $215,000 so far for the association’s political action committee. The goal is to raise $250,000 this year.

“We are the guardians of the property transfer system and need to continue working together to strengthen our house.”

Pryor also asked the many traditional ALTA annual attendees to reach out and welcome new faces, while the first-time attendees were urged to make introductions and make contacts. For a third segment, Pryor said state leaders need to share the message advocated during the conference with those in their local markets.

Pryor concluded his speech by sharing a story of a man walking down the street and looked ahead and saw three street workers putting in concrete blocks into the foundation of a building. The man walks up and asks the first guy what he’s doing. The worker responds that he’s just trying to make it to quitting time. The man asks the second worker the same question and he responds that he’s just trying to make a living. The third worker, however, said he was building a cathedral.

"We have all kinds represented in our industry,” Pryor said. “We have some who are just making it to quitting time. We have some that are just trying to make a living and we have some that are building a cathedral and understand the purpose and goal of what it is here we are for.

He continued: “I think everyone is here at this year's event because you understand why we are here and understand what a magnificent place this can be. You understand that this cathedral won’t be built this year or next year. But you can play a part in getting there. We are here to a walk away with something that makes a difference, and not for ourselves, but for the people back home at your companies. There’s an old saying that you go as far as you can see, then you go further. Go home and spread the messages of what you learned during this conference and help them build the cathedral with you.”

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or

North American Title Insurance Company (NATIC) is a seasoned title insurance underwriter, helping title agents to achieve their individual business goals for more than 50 years. Today, the company conducts real estate settlement services in 39 states and the District of Columbia through a network of experienced, independent agents.