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-Photo of the messenger by Chad Thompson

Ted Hugghins, president of Abstract Associates of Iowa, poses at the company’s Fort Dodge office inside the Wells Fargo Center, 822 Central Ave., Suite 304. Hugghins has announced his retirement.

Fast, precise and friendly.

You could describe Ted Hugghins with these three words.

“His wife Cathy once told us that they would be leaving work at the same time from the same location, and when she got home he would already be there, in her sleepy recliner when she walked through the door.” laughs Danielle Michalski.

“Ted is for sure ‘quick’, quick with a new idea or a way to point out something we could do more effectively, and ‘precise’ ranks up there as well. He spends a lot of time checking and rechecking our work and can quickly point out what we need to fix ”, said Michalski.

The mantra, “Fast, precise and user-friendly” also became the distinction of Abstract Associates of Iowa Inc., started by Hugghins and his partner, Jerry Schnurr III, in September 2009 at the height of the housing debacle of 2008. The idea came to friends after Hugghins had worked previously with New York Life and Gunderson Funeral Home.

“Jerry and I were together on his patio one evening in late summer 2009, sharing ideas and a martini,” Huggin said. “Jerry said, let’s start an abstract business. If you really want to work; your service and operations background, coupled with your attention to detail, may be a perfect fit. “

At the time, there was only one abstract company serving Webster County. Jerry and his former legal partner, Jim Fitzgerald, had dreamed of an abstract business for over 10 years. Fitzgerald’s father had worked at Fort Dodge for over 40 years and Jerry and Jim wanted to carry on his father’s legacy.

Hugghins replied: “OK, let’s go! “

The next day the couple contacted Candy Robinson, with NorthCentral Title in Humboldt, who in turn led them to Kathy Vosika, a “Legend” in the field of abstract and title research.

“She endorsed our enthusiasm, our creativity and our ability to seek out a new opportunity”, Huggin said. “Kathy found the time to guide us and then joined our payroll department in our Fort Dodge office. “

In addition to Vosika, Carolyn Sandvig was the first abstract associate to join the company.

“She was a typing ace,” he said, “This suited our business perfectly and she informed me that she already had abstraction experience. Its high standards of precision are always at the center of this business.

Abstract Associates now has offices in Webster County, Calhoun County, Wright County, and most recently Franklin County, as Franklin County Abstract Company, a division of Abstract Associates of Iowa, Inc. In addition, Webster County headquarters has moved to a new space, still located in the Wells Fargo Center on the third floor.

Since its inception in 2009, the company has continued to experience substantial growth and continues to be the abstract company of choice for many of the region’s real estate agents, lawyers and lenders and for the clients they serve.

“This year in particular, we have seen a significant increase in our workload. We’ve always been a company that works as hard as possible to keep our customers happy. Our associates take deadlines and our workload very seriously, and I think that’s what sets our company apart from others in this industry ”, Huggin said. “And what makes our business successful is the relationships we have built with our customers. This is where the “Friendly” comes in. I don’t think there is an associate in our office who is unrelated to our clients. We really care about them and the job they have to do.

Precision in the abstraction business can make or break a deal for a landowner, and Hugghins knows that is the constant goal and driving force. This precision has been at the center of many aspects, including the advancement of modern digital title search products, designed to make abstraction faster than ever before.

“Our associates seek perfection in this profession, it is a key factor in the transfer of land. Even a moved comma can change everything. Huggin said, “We take this very seriously and over time have refined our process to ensure we are delivering the most accurate and quality product possible. “

After working to build a successful abstract business for nearly 12 years, Hugghins made the decision to retire.

“I wanted to wait until I could maximize social security at age 70. The men in my family were fortunate to have lived to be 90 years old. I have always thought about and planned my retirement. The children finished their university studies, got married and started to develop their family life and their future ”, Huggin said, “I married the love of my life and now we can do some of the things that we talked about. There comes a time when you just feel like you just need to “get out of the way.” I see the good things happening here. Each associate works diligently, every day, to improve in our profession. They “own their work” as if it was their business. I’m very proud. Our business is in good hands.

The history of Hugghin’s work at Fort Dodge, however, did not begin with Abstract Associates.

Her longest career in the community has been working as a store manager for our local JCPenney.

“As the local leader of Penney, this community welcomed me and my young family with open arms”, Huggin said, “I quickly took a seat on the former Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce, which in turn became the Greater Fort Dodge Area Growth Alliance, of which I am currently an ambassador. I also served on the United Way Board of Directors, became active in the Noon Rotary Club, and became active in running the Crossroads Mall. I am also currently active in our vibrant church family at First Presbyterian Church, serving the Church Foundation.

For Hugghins, a valuable lesson learned was the “Golden Rule.”

“JCPenney began as The Golden Rule Store in 1902, with Matthew 7:12” Do to others what you have them do to you, “as a motto,” Huggin said, “I took this scripture-based approach to my business acumen from an early age, at age 16, and to this day I have compared my actions and those of our associates to the ‘Golden Rule’. This motto is what really influenced me in this current business atmosphere, as well as personally.

After so long being active in the Fort Dodge community, Hugghins has seen a multitude of positive changes.

“The growth of the labs, the improvements to the community cleanup, the growth of Iowa Central and the Lundgren Wind Farm project, these are some of the biggest changes I’ve seen.” Huggin said, “There are so many, I have a whole list. OHV Park and our trail system are some of the hidden gems in our community. The people we attract to these amazing places are truly something we can be proud of. “

Hugghins is a native Texan, who grew up in Midland, Texas through education distributed in high school and made a career with JCPenney for 33 years, 8 months working in thirteen (13) different locations in various positions of direction. He and his wife Cathy moved to Fort Dodge in October 1993 from Wylie, Texas (Dallas area) and have three children, son Seth Hugghins (Jaymie), and son Hudson first grandchild, son Luke Hugghins ( Lexie) and her daughter Hope. Hunting (Zac).

As retirement neared, Hugghins and Schnurr made some changes to the management structure within Abstract Associates, creating a board of directors and appointed Danielle Michalski, CLTP, as director of Abstract Associates of Iowa. Inc. and Abby Dorsey, as Deputy Director.

Hugghins and Schnurr will continue to own Abstract Associates of Iowa Inc.

“Danielle and Abby both have extensive summary knowledge, both have spent a lot of time training and gaining first-hand experience in the field of title research. Not only that, they both work hard to develop their knowledge in the business by working directly with our clients, ensuring that our business continues to grow and change as the industry changes ”, Huggin said, “I trust them to continue to grow; make this business better every day. I can also say at this point, Abstract Associates of Iowa has the most experienced abstractors in all of the counties we serve, and that I am incredibly proud of their professionalism and attention to detail.

“Ted has already taught me a lot during my time as an abstractor and I am delighted to continue to develop our business. We have so much more to accomplish, and the group of associates we have in all of our offices couldn’t be a better group of people to work with. It really makes this leadership journey of our team a journey that I am truly honored to have ”, said Michalski. “His knowledge not only in land transfer, but in all aspects of business has been truly invaluable.”

Michalski graduated from Buena Vista University with a BA in Accounting and Psychology. She has been a Certified Land Titles Professional for 7 years and has worked at Abstract Associates since 2012. Michalski resides in Manson and has four children. She will oversee the entire company.

Dorsey has been with Abstract Associates since June 2016. She is a graduate of Iowa Central Community College. Dorsey’s role will focus on counties outside of Webster. For Dorsey, the challenge of transferring the land makes it rewarding to come to work every day.

“It’s really a job that is difficult, but one that I really love. I like being here every day, I’m not sure a lot of people can say that, that they really found a job that they like ”, Dorsey said.

In addition to Michalski and Dorsey, Abstract Associates has 11 partners and continues to grow.

As Hugghins moves from a normal lifestyle to a slightly more relaxed lifestyle, he offers this advice to his colleagues and other members of our community:

“Visionaries should ask themselves, ‘Can I help our community and those who live here? “” Huggin said, “Focus on the details of how you’re going to start. Survey the market, ask questions of those you love and trust. Always use a real estate agent for land transactions. Talk to your banker about your dreams. Listen and take notes.

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