History of First American
The History of First American
How does a one-county abstract company evolve into a global provider of title insurance and settlement services?
It consistently provides customers with the most accurate information, developed with insight and delivered with integrity. For more than a century, First American has focused on serving its customers with the most efficient, personalized services and products.
This commitment to service, efficiency, and accuracy continues as the company develops advanced technology solutions to speed processing while ensuring the most accurate and complete information possible. With automated processes, advanced technology, innovative solutions, and a focus on the long-term success of its operations and its customers, First American continues to be an industry leader.
Humble Beginnings: A One-County Abstract Company
First American traces its roots to 1889, when Orange County, California—a rural, undeveloped area at the time—split off from the county of Los Angeles. Two firms opened to handle title matters in the brand-new county. Five years later, C.E. Parker, a local businessman, succeeded in merging the two competitors into a single entity. He was named president of the resulting company—Orange County Title Company—the immediate predecessor to today’s First American Title Insurance Company, the largest subsidiary of First American Financial Corporation.
During its first 70 years, the company’s growth paralleled that of Orange County—modest but steady. It earned a reputation for diligence, thoroughness and friendly, personal service. In 1924, it became one of the first abstract companies in California to qualify to issue policies of title insurance.
Donald Parker Kennedy, grandson of the founder, joined the company after finishing law school in 1948. He soon realized that the company needed to expand beyond the boundaries of the county in order to survive. In 1957, the board of directors authorized an expansion plan with the intent of becoming a powerhouse in the Southern California market. However, the decision to provide services where its existing customers had operations soon led the company far beyond California’s borders. In 1963, D.P. Kennedy was named president of the company, taking over for his uncle, George Parker. By this time, the company had changed its name to First American and was operating in four states.
As First American began to grow, title offices were established outside of California’s borders. By 1982, First American Title served every region of the country. Today, First American continues to draw different products and services from its various business units to offer customers innovative product combinations that meet the customer’s needs without the hassle of working with several independent companies. First American’s state-of-the-art technology makes this new level of service possible. In each business unit, and at every level, First American is committed to providing innovative solutions that serve the customer’s needs.
In addition to a comprehensive presence across the United States, First American has pioneered operations in nearly 70 countries. In 1988, First American approached Canadian officials with a request to open title insurance offices in Canada. Since that time, the company has revolutionized the way title insurance is used and viewed by Canadian consumers and lenders. With the success of its endeavors in Canada, First American used a similar business model to develop international operations around the world. First American was the first title insurance provider in Mexico, Korea, and Hong Kong, and has the leading market share in Australia and England.
Today, First American continues to explore new international opportunities, as well as work with government officials and community leaders in developing nations to help these leaders create legislation that protects landowner rights and secures a stronger local economy.
This proactive approach to service goes beyond just being a vendor, who offers products. First American understands that the only way to bring out the greatest value of the company’s products, and the customer’s business, is to partner with the customer. In response to working alongside its customers, listening to their needs and anticipating what products and services will be a good fit, First American is able to introduce solutions that will meet its customers’ current and future needs.
In 2010, First American separated its newly developed real estate information businesses from its title insurance and financial services operations, thus creating two new independent companies—a strategy that will enhance the focus and strengthen the competitive positions of both companies. The information and analytics operations became CoreLogic, Inc., and the financial services and title technology companies were named First American Financial Corporation.
First American was built more than 120 years ago on a foundation of integrity and service. Our philosophy of providing our customers the respect they deserve and the services they need endures. It’s a corporate culture we continue to bring to our work—and to our clients—every day.
No matter what the future holds, First American will continue to provide information, developed with insight and delivered with integrity.