Cheryl VanOppen, Commercial Closing Manager at Frontier Title & Closing Services, has been involved in the title industry for 27 years. She started in Peoria, IL working for Chicago Title doing commercial closings. She ran the closing department, the construction department, and an office for 13 years before heading to Wisconsin in 2005.
After coming to Milwaukee, WI, she went into lending which was her background prior to Chicago Title. But the title industry was always her passion so in 2007 she joined Frontier Title & Closing Services, which at the time was Gatewood Title. Cheryl worked out of the Watertown office as a closer. “Even though I had a lot of experience in title, it’s different from state to state.” Cheryl became Closing Manager in 2009, and Frontier Title was founded in 2010. Cheryl became Commercial Closing Manager in November of 2018.
Cheryl and her team of five closers and a closing assistant are responsible for making sure all title documents are prepared correctly, and the checklist is complete so that the closing day can proceed on time. Trey Dittman, owner of Frontier Title & Closing Services, calls the team “traffic controllers.” Cheryl says, “My team comes into play once we know that we’re handling the seller side of the transaction.” They know this once an order is placed, and from there, a closer is assigned to the order.
About two years ago, Cheryl helped take the department as paperless as possible. Using a specific software, Cheryl and her team are able to communicate and access any necessary information and documents. “It’s a wonderful tool and it’s huge for the title industry who’s paper, paper, paper, paper.” Another advantage of the software is the ability to keep all customer information extremely confidential.
Cheryl credits her team for stepping up and working together to accomplish their roles at Frontier Title & Closing Services. “We all schedule. We all run and close. We do whatever we need to do to get the job done. It’s a huge, huge team effort.” They focus on being proactive as a closing comes up, letting customers know exactly what is needed from them. “The software also leads us through these steps,” which allows any closer to assist any customer because all necessary information is in the database. This allows their process to be more efficient.
Frontier Title & Closing Services stands apart according to Cheryl because “People stay here. There’s a reason that people stay here. It’s because of how they’re treated. Trey (Dittmann) is a wonderful person to work for.” She also applauds the company for their ability to work quickly and help each other out when necessary.
As closers, “We are the safety net to make sure all of the title issues have been addressed. We make sure we get the right parties that are signing. We make sure all the numbers make sense.” She states, “the customer sees the closing date but we are doing a lot of behind the scenes work to make it appear seamless.” Cheryl and her closers are the last step before customers own their homes, which is a huge day for them. “We are always working proactively and not reactively.”
Cheryl’s favorite part of her job is working with people. “I’m a people person.” She enjoys interacting face-to-face and problem-solving. She has many favorite memories of the closing process. Some involve the excitement and genuine hugs she receives after the closing is complete. Others involve the connections she makes with her customers. “It gets in your blood,” Cheryl says about the title business. At closings, “There’s lots of funny stories, interesting stories. People will pray. They want to hug.” Cheryl remarks. “Homeownership is part of the American Dream and it’s a privilege for us to be part of the process.”