When I sat down with Geline Spinks and her mother, Carla LaPointe, for coffee, I had to admit to both of these women that I wasn’t exactly well-versed in what title companies do exactly. I knew that there was some research involved, that examiners looked at a property’s history of ownership before a sale could close to make sure that there were no liens and other debts that could halt the sale of a house. Just a very, very general idea.
Both Carla and Geline graciously took the time to explain what they do at Community National Title, a woman and minority-owned title company based out of Uptown. The firm, headed by Helen Epps and helmed by a team including Philip Postel and Johnny Collins, is building a staff of strong, knowledgeable title professionals. It just so happens that some of them share the same genes.
Carla has been in the title business since 1976, and started her own title research firm in 1988 when Geline was just a wee one. Carla and her husband, Pete LaPointe, would tote little Geline to courthouses as they did research. “She was an angel,” Carla said of her daughter, who often colored and drew and charmed everyone she met.
In fact, it was one of Geline’s drawings that helped prove a contentious battle over a property’s title. When a courthouse clerk was asked if she could prove that Carla and Pete had been there to discover the provenance of the land in question, she handed over one of little Geline’s artworks.
Since then, Geline has come into her own in the business, working for several title companies including Capital Title and Hexter-Fair. “I started out with the documents, just doing the research,” Geline said, but she wanted to grow into the business. “I would tell people to throw me anything, I want to learn everything.” Now she is at Community National Title, where she was recently promoted to plant manager.
“Everyone knows that she is just like her daddy,” Carla said of Geline. “She knows how to take charge.”
Pete, a former Marine, was the title plant manager for Capital Title. At one time Pete, Carla, Geline, and even Geline’s husband Russell, were all working together at the same company.
“I’m surprised at how many family connections there are in the title business, and how many of them are run by families,” Carla mused.
Pete was heavily involved in some of Geline’s hobbies, to the point that he coached her roller derby team, the Lone Star Assassins, where Geline played as “Karma Collision.” Pete taught Geline a lot about managing a title plant, and how to play to the natural strengths of employees.
After a fight with cancer, Pete passed in 2011 and Carla left the title business and went into oil and gas. Geline stayed on, though, gaining more and more experience, working her way through all of the different facets of the title business. When there was an opening for plant manager at Community National Title, Philip Postel said their firm jumped at the chance to promote Geline.
“The main attraction to us was a younger woman that had title in her blood and seemed determined to try to follow her father’s footsteps and run a
plant,” Postel said.
Geline, who trains in circus arts including aerial silk, does professional cosplay most often as Catwoman, and practices Parkour, isn’t afraid to shake things up. She’s ready to forge her own path, helping to build Community National Title into an efficient title plant.
“Everyone would tell me ‘this is how it’s always been done,’ even if it’s not exactly the best way to get it done,” Geline said. “I’m looking in with fresh eyes, and it allows me to have a different perspective.”
It’s a valuable perspective, too. But in building her team, Geline wanted to make sure the company had the most experienced, meticulous examiners that could be had. Naturally, she wanted to recruit the best examiner she knows — her mother. While Geline easily sees the big picture in mind, Carla is an expert at untangling the challenging knots that can be found in title research. They make an excellent team.
But what’s it like being your mom’s boss? That has to be weird, right?
“We try to not take work home with us,” Carla said. “[Geline’s] the most diplomatic person. I just don’t want to disappoint her!”
Of course, Geline notes, their relationship is widely known, where some people refer to Carla as “Gilene’s mom,” though they maintain a professional first-name basis at work. The And while she may have grown up in the title business, it’s not like this is a default career for Geline.
“I was proud of my family, but I had to go out and make a name on my own,” she said. “It felt good, because I had succeeded in proving that I was good at something without the influence of my family. They’ve seen what I can do.”