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From Here to There: Brothers take over the family business at a young age

Dave Welshons (right) and Richard Welshons own of DCA Titles. Kelsey Roy/RiverTown Multimedia

In the summer of 1989, a 22-year-old Dave Welshons and a 25-year-old Richard Welshons took over their father's title insurance agency, Dakota County Abstract Company, now known as DCA Title.

Richard had five years at the company under his belt, while Dave had been working there full time for six weeks— a fresh college graduate, who had put in hours at the company during school breaks. Neither of them expected that they would be the future owners of DCA Title; it was just something that happened due to timing.

"We had other family members that we thought were going to maybe do it, but that didn't work out. He was here and our dad wanted to retire," Dave said of his older brother.

Dave remembers getting a call from his brother, who asked him what his plans were for after graduation.

"I didn't know," Dave added. "I thought maybe law school, but I didn't have any big plans. He said to me, 'I think Dad is waiting for you to graduate and then he's going to bail. Do you want to come here?"

In the late '80s, the job outlook wasn't the greatest, Dave said. At least he could have a job lined up at the company, and if that didn't work out he could stay until he found something else.

Dave graduated from college with a degree in business in May, started working on June 1, and his father retired on July 15.

Richard had joined the company five years prior under a similar scope.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do. That was my issue. I didn't know what I wanted to do so my dad said that if I didn't know, then I should come work for him," Richard said.

The first few years that the Welshons brothers owned the business were tough. The market had turned for the worse and interest rates increased. They recalled that the company was overstaffed and didn't have any money. People had to be laid off and benefits had to be cut.

Being young and having to deal with the hardships of the economy was stressful, Richard said. Looking back, he can't believe that he and Dave were running a company at their age.

"I remember at one point he said, 'I'm 22 years old. I wouldn't even lease a copy machine from a 22-year-old. Why would anyone trust me?'" Richard recalled with a laughed.

For Dave, it was hard to convince his friends who were still in college that he was running his own business with his brother.

"We just faked it until we made it for a while," Dave said. "Luckily, the market turned around and we had a good run of being busy. The people who made it through the tough times, we were able to give them raises."

The market started to improve in 1991, Dave said. Interest rates were on their way down and business began picking up. By 1992, DCA Title was profitable.

Another major turn for the business came with the increased use of computers in the workplace. Until then, business tended to be segregated by area.

"We did Dakota County. Our name was Dakota County Abstract Company. Other companies did Washington County and other places," Dave explained. "They didn't come here and we didn't go there."

Because of computers, however, people no longer had to get in their cars to do research around the county area they served. It could now all be done in house, allowing agencies reach across boundaries for business.

"We could go other places to compete, but that also meant that other people could come here," Dave added.

Before the Welshons brothers took over ownership of the business in the late 80's, DCA Title could also be found in Apple Valley and West St. Paul. Since the rise of computers during their time as owners, DCA Title has increased to six locations, with three reaching outside the confines of Dakota County— Roseville, Minneapolis and Edina.