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Perry Armstrong, Preferred Title

IB's Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet the state's professionals. This week features Perry Armstrong, CEO of Preferred Title.

Business Address: 2728 Coho St., Madison, WI 53713
Phone: 608-271-2020
Birthplace: Madison
Board Membership: WHEDA, Dane County Regional Airport, Universal Home Protection
Education: B.S., 1964, and J.D., 1967, UW-Madison

Perry, how long have you been at this company, and what is your day-to-day role?
Been at Preferred full time since 1967. Became CEO in 1973. I put out fires and look for acquisitions.

Who outside your company has influenced your career the most, and in what way?
I have to give that to Burt Hable, football coach at Madison West, who was committed to the proposition that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Who would you most like to be a mentor to, or have the most influence on – and in what way?
My youngest son, so he doesn't make the mistakes that I did in building our business.

What career advice do you have for someone looking for meaningful work in this economic climate?
Dress the part, show up early, and stay late without asking to be paid for it. Do your job without complaint, avoid distraction (cell phones and texting), don’t make the same mistake twice, and find a way to let the decision-makers know of your behavior.

The story of your own business is an interesting one. What would you say was the personal highlight?
Putting together the partnership with First Weber Group, The Stark Company, Century 21 Affiliated, and David Simon to buy back Preferred Title.

And your long-term goal with the resulting business?
To acquire more strategically located title companies in Wisconsin and to complete the orderly transition of our company's management to my son Chad.

Were you interested in real estate at a young age yourself?
Always wanted to be a Navy or airline pilot or a professional baseball player. My wife didn't want anything to do with the pilot thing and I wasn't that good at baseball, so I got nowhere with both. I never liked taking orders, so I guess the only solution was to become a boss.

We like to ask about first paychecks and how you spent them. Remember your first one?
My first paycheck was from Preferred for running errands. I think it was for $75, less the taxes. I'm sure I did something frivolous with it because that's my nature.

What do you do "beyond the office" that brings you happiness or relaxation?
I fly my own airplane, play a little golf and tennis, and enjoy my grandchildren. I have three boys and a girl – all work at Preferred – and five grandchildren, who fortunately look nothing like their grandfather.

What is your favorite place to travel, and what makes it special?
Scottsdale, because I have a house there that I can't get rid of.

Do you read for pleasure? If so, can you list a recent title that might give us the flavor of what you like to read?
Innocent by David Balducci.

Do you have a favorite book character?
Chip Hilton was a character of author Claire Bee. Chip was a star athlete at every sport he tried.

Perry, can you list three words you think best describe you? We always like to close with a personal glimpse.
Old, overweight, and foolish.

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