Siddons-Martin Emergency Group plans to open its Longview service center in April at East Texas Regional Airport.

“As we celebrate our 45th year in business as a Pierce (Manufacturing Inc.) authorized dealer, I couldn’t be more grateful for the knowledgeable team and incredible customer relationships we have built over the years,” Leon Martin Jr., president of service for Siddons, said in a statement.

Pierce fire apparatus sales have been the driving factor for service center expansion, Siddons-Martin said. Centers in Longview and elsewhere feature hydraulic truck lifts, mobile and on-site fire pump testing and certification, computer diagnostics, inspections and other services.

Construction began this past summer and is continuing, Airport Director Roy Miller said. He added Siddons-Martin, based in Houston, is leasing space at the airport and had planned to open in January but faced weather-related delays.

Siddons-Martin plans to maintain 16 service centers and 40 mobile service units, the company said.

Gregg County Title

A Wood County abstract and title company has expanded into Longview.

Jason Holt, Gary Lawrence and Shannon Clark — owners of Don Roberts Abstract & Title in Wood County — have opened Gregg County Title at 4001 Technology Center, Suite 203.

“They are all Longview born and raised and wanted to do business locally,” escrow officer Hayley Roye said.

Gregg County Title says it provides comprehensive title insurance, underwriting and closing services for both commercial and residential real estate transactions.

“Our team is comprised of highly qualified closing professionals with a wealth of experience spanning decades in the title industry,” the company says.

Gregg County Title plans an open house and Longview Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony from 4:30 to 6 p.m. March 21.

The company is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, visit .

Residential rents slip

Longview apartment rental rates declined in February by 0.2 percent from January but were still 1.4 percent higher than a year ago, according to a monthly national report.

The median rent for a two-bedroom unit in February in Longview was $940 and below the national average of $1,170, according to Apartment List, a San Francisco-based rent tracker. The median rent for a one-bedroom unit went for $770.

February marked the second month in a row that Longview has seen rent decreases after rising in December, Apartment List said. However, Longview’s growth over the past year leads the state average of 1.3 percent as well as the national average of 0.9 percent.

An annual growth rate of 1.4 percent is “great for tenants but bad for landlords,” apartment owner Jim Tucker of The Fairways complex on McCann Road said in a statement.

“Our operating costs have been increasing much faster than 1.4 percent a year, so we’ll soon be in the hole if we can’t get higher rents,” he said. “But in the meantime, the tenants should be happy.”

Across Texas, rents have increased over the past year, Apartment List said. Plano is the most expensive of all major cities in the state, with a median two-bedroom unit going for $1,440. Of the 10 largest cities in the state that Apartment List tracks, Austin experienced the fastest growth at 3.1 percent.

Arlington, Laredo and Corpus Christi all experienced growth over the past year above the state average at 3 percent, 2.4 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

Popeyes remodeling

The Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant at 2110 Gilmer Road has been closed for remodeling with no date set for reopening, employees at the Popeyes on East Marshall Avenue said.

“It’s a good place of business and they do good and they are remodeling our store,” said Cheryl Gardner, a cashier who has worked for Popeyes for 14 years.

Famous Chicken of Shreveport LLC owns both locations, according to information from Gregg County Appraisal District.

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— Business Beat appears Sunday. If you have items for the column, email to; mail to Business Section, Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606; or call (903) 237-7744.