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Jax Daily Record Monday, Dec. 27, 200412:00 PM EST

Remember Dan Quiggle?

by: Bradley Parsons

by Bradley Parsons

Staff Writer

In politics and in business, Dan Quiggle thinks big.

The president and CEO of America’s Choice Title Company in Jacksonville Beach surprised many of the locals in his beloved Republican Party when he took on Ander Crenshaw in 2000 for Tillie Fowler’s vacated congressional seat.

But four years after that humbling defeat, Quiggle once again has his sights set high. Now he wants to turn his real estate transaction firm into the State’s largest.

No small feat to be sure, but Quiggle thinks it can be done through the combination of a skilled staff and a focus on customer service.

“It’s important to treat people right,” said Quiggle. “Even though it is just a closing, it is a very exciting experience for people. Whether you are buying a first home, a new home or refinancing. You don’t do that often in life, and to have someone who cares about it and makes it a pleasant experience is important.”

Turning a real estate transaction into an enjoyable experience doesn’t happen by accident. Quiggle greets his clients at his Marsh Landing office with cappuccino or cafe’ lattes served with cookies and sandwiches.

Customer service has been the company’s focus since he and co-founder W. Douglas Smith first conceived the venture two years ago during a game of tennis.

Smith brought 25 years of legal and real estate experience with him to Jacksonville Beach when he arrived from Atlanta shortly before America’s Choice was born.

Having an experienced hand like Smith as partner, general counsel and a board member gives the company experience on par with some of the country’s largest firms without losing the personal touch of a smaller firm, said Quiggle.

Whether or not that will be enough to move America’s Choice to the top of Florida’s class of title firms remains to be seen. Quiggle has been accused of biting off more than he could chew in the past.

That appeared to be the case in 2000 when Quiggle ran in the Republican Party primary against Crenshaw for an open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. News coverage consistently referred to him as the “political unknown” running against the former Florida Senate president Crenshaw.

Quiggle set his sights on 24,000 votes. That was what he needed, he thought to win the primary. After months of tireless campaigning, Quiggle almost reached his goal, garnering more than 20,800 votes. Just one problem: Crenshaw more than doubled that number, pulling in nearly 48,000 votes and about 70 percent of the vote.

Looking back, Quiggle thinks he picked a tough time to run a newcomer’s campaign. Voter turnout was higher than expected due to the Better Jacksonville Plan’s appearance on the ballot.

“But don’t let me take anything from Ander because he is a great guy. He is a great representative and we were pretty much on the same side on most of the issues. It is hard to run against someone in that situation,” he said.

Despite the defeat, Quiggle said he would run again given the right circumstances. If that seems optimistic, consider Quiggle’s mentor — he learned his boundless enthusiasm working as an intern for former president Ronald Reagan.

Quiggle wasn’t even finished at UCLA when he got the offer to work in the Los Angeles offices of the former president–and Quiggle’s boyhood hero. It was an offer that Quiggle, the president of the UCLA Young Republicans Club, didn’t have to think about twice.

Quiggle said he was fortunate to work with Reagan after he left office. Removed from the official duties of the White House, Reagan had more time to spend one-on-one with his staff.

Quiggle was most struck by the way the former president treated people. School kids were afforded the same treatment as visiting heads of state. That’s where Quiggle’s own approach to customer relations was formed.

“I learned that it’s all about people and making sure they are satisfied,” he said.

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