Heatons sell abstract company to Sprys
A high school class in 1972 set the stage for a career in the abstract business for Sandra Heaton, in Philip SD. Heaton took a class, Distributive Education, and was allowed to work during school hours and after school for a business of her choosing. Ardeth Kendall was the owner of Haakon County Abstract, and her husband ran the American Family Insurance business, both long time business owners in Philip.
Heaton worked for Kendall for several years. Keith Emerson purchased the business in 1978 and she worked for him as well. Heaton purchased the business from Emerson in January of 1999. In January of 2023 Heaton sold the business to Jari and Joel Spry.
“The business has changed a lot over the years,” said Sandra Heaton. “When I first started, most title work was in the form of abstracts. Basically, an abstract is a typed abbreviated version of every document that has ever been recorded against any particular piece of property. Over the years, Title Insurance has taken the place of abstracts as the method of showing title. We still do the same amount of research, but just not quite as much typing.” Heaton felt there was a need for someone to help those who are changing ownership of real estate, land, and other properties, so she put that into place. “We started doing closings after I purchased the business,” said Heaton, “and that aspect has grown a lot.”
Jari Spry has been working with me since 2020,” said Heaton, “and she is fully licensed and was ready to take over the business. I will be helping out for a while, during the transition.”
January 1, 2023 became a very exciting time for Jari and Joel Spry, as they took over one of the oldest businesses in communities like Philip. The business of abstracting dates back to the first planning stages of a town and has been in place just about as long as a community’s local newspaper, which began in 1906 for Philip. Title companies, post offices, and newspapers were some of the first solid additions to communities.
The Sprys have changed the name of the business they purchased from Sandra and Dennis Heaton, to Haakon County Title, LLC. “We are excited that Sandra and Dennis have given us this opportunity to be business owners in Philip,” said Jari Spry. “Although we do abstracting, most people recognize the term ’title’,” so that is why we chose the name change.” Spry enjoys her job and dealing with people from the community she grew up in. “Title work is basically storytelling,” said Spry, “and that’s why I love it. Every piece of property has a story to tell, and it’s our job to share that story with the sellers, buyers, and lenders. We then provide title insurance policies to protect the new buyer and lender. Sandra has been a very patient and incredibly knowledgeable mentor for me the past 2 ½ years,” noted Spry. "She’ll be around for a while yet to help with the transition. We are so grateful for her.” Jari will be handling all of the title searching, settlements/closings and title insurance policies. But also, exciting news for the new business owners, Joel will be transitioning into the insurance agent role that Heaton has been servicing with BankWest Insurance.
The Sprys are enthusiastic about owning their own business in Philip. “We are excited and humbled to keep the title company local,” said Jari. With 2 1/2 years of learning the business from Heaton it became apparent to Sprys that the business needs to be kept in downtown Philip. “We are located in the heart of downtown, and we have grown closer to so many business owners and locals who frequent,” said Spry. “We believe in small towns and we adore the community we call home.”
The Sprys are parents to four children and are connected in many different facets to the community and many activities throughout the year. “We have 4 kiddos whom you’ll see in and out of the office at times,” said Jari. “Although we do spend a lot of time chasing and cheering for our children, we will be available to help our customers new and old, with their title and insurance needs.”