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Fastest Growing Private Mortgage Companies

Inc. 500 ranking released

November 2, 2005


photo of Coco Salazar

The fastest growing mortgage-related private entities include a wholesaler, a net branch company and a lead company. The top ranked company has grown more than 5,000% in the past three years.

Meridias Capital was the top mortgage-linked company on the 24th annual Inc. 500 ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Meridias earned sixth place overall.

Companies were ranked according to year-over-year sales growth from 2001 to 2004, Inc. magazine said.

Nevada-based Meridias, a home financing firm, has reportedly grown 5,575% in the last three years. Meridias said it generated the majority of its $30.8 million, 2004 revenues from operations in five states--Nevada, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona. But the company seems to be on a roll -- by mid 2006, the firm expects to be licensed nationwide.

"It is a great honor and a tribute to all our employees to be ranked among the top 10 fastest growing companies in the U.S.," said Nick Florez, the founder and president of Meridias in an announcement. "But growth is only one measure of success. We intend to set new standards for the mortgage industry by giving originators and their clients access to a wide selection of home loan programs with competitive pricing and consistently superior customer service."

Inc. noted that 75% of all new jobs in the nation are created by small, entrepreneurial businesses. In 2004, the companies on the Inc. 500 created 25,180 new jobs, a 35% increase over the prior year, while the total number of employees among Fortune 500 companies experienced a 1.3% uptick of 306,045 jobs after declines in 2001 through 2003.

"When you look at the amazing job growth among Inc. 500 companies and contrast it with the stagnation in the Fortune 500, it underscores the changing nature of our economy," said the ranking's project manager Jim Melloan in a written statement. "With unprecedented global competition, companies have to be able to turn on a dime, and discover innovative new ways of doing business. Increasingly, it's the smaller, agile companies like those on the Inc. 500 that are best equipped to meet these challenges."

Meridias reportedly added more than 200 new employees this year.

Since "day one," the lender's business strategy was to build a "mortgage origination platform that empowers originators, drives out inefficiencies and eliminates extraneous costs," Meridias' Florez said, noting the savings is passed on to originators.

C&S Marketing, was the 20th fastest-growing, up 2,315% over the past three years and generating 2004 revenues of $51.4 million, according to the magazine. The risk management provider recently changed its name to Core Logic.

At No. 46 was Summit Mortgage with a 1,469% three-year growth rate. The Boston-based mortgage banker announced that, since its inception in 1996, it has increased annual revenue from $1 million to last year's $18.4 million. Summit, with 2004 volume of $1.1 billion and 144 employees in Massachusetts and Florida, highlighted it was the only New England real estate firm to make the list.

"We couldn't have done it without the dedication, hard work and expertise our employees demonstrate every day," said Summit president and founder Rick Fedele in an announcement. "We have seasoned loan officers who know their markets and know how to provide exceptional service. Plus, our unique role as a correspondent lender gives us an advantage by enabling us to approve and fund a loan in house and draw from virtually any loan program available today."

MarketerNet LLC, which says it provides end-to-end marketing solutions for the mortgage, credit union and automotive industries, placed 54th with three-year growth of about 1,300%, generating revenues of $9.2 million last year.

"We built our company and our solutions around the principle that all lenders should have access to the tools necessary to effectively market their products in these competitive industries," said Richard Scolio, president of MarketerNet, in a written statement. "By offering tools that allow medium and small size companies to compete with larger companies, we are meeting a need that had gone unnoticed for a number of years.

Washington-headquartered MILA was No. 122 with a reported growth rate of 803% in the previous three years, generating 2004 revenues of $97.7 million. In an announcement, the wholesale mortgage lender credited its recent growth to proprietary technology, which it created almost three years ago to enable brokers to have full-access to their loan pipeline and allow loans to be funded in only four hours. The technology reportedly makes MILA the only mortgage lender to provide brokers instant automated underwriting and real-time loan management tools 24-7.

"To see our name on the same prestigious list that has included modern-day giants from Microsoft and Intuit to Sharper Image and Dominos Pizza just shows that the sky really is the limit for us," commented Layne Sapp, MILA founder and CEO, in the announcement.

Spot No. 146 was filled by Equity Plus due to its three-year rate growth of over 709%, with revenues of $18.5 million last year. The first- and second-mortgage provider says it is located in Delaware, where it has a mortgage-banking license in addition to Maryland, that it is a correspondent lender in Florida and a licensed mortgage broker in Pennsylvania.

Within the 200 fastest-growing mortgage-related companies was LoanBright, an online marketing, lead generation and sales force automation functions service provider for the mortgage industry, which ranked 162nd due to growth of 659% in the past three years.

Mortgage companies within the top 300 included Missouri-based lender, The Mortgage Store in No. 209 with three-year growth of 534%; Nevada-based Silver State Mortgage with 526%; and Florida-based Family First Mortgage with 446%, Inc. said.

Amongst the top 400 on the ranking were net branch NFM Inc. in No. 317 with a 416% three-year growth rate; California-based mortgage banker First Fidelity Centers with nearly 400% growth; nonprime lender FMF Capital Group with 395%; Lydian Trust, parent of mortgage-lending Lydian Bank & Trust, with 387% growth; and Homefield Financial with 367%.

The last fifth of the list reportedly included California-based United Pacific Mortgage with three-year growth of 336%; SouthStar Funding with 329%; All Fund Mortgage with 301% growth; Ameritrust Mortgage with 296%; real estate investment trust Fieldstone Investment with 293%; and at No. 499 was Guaranteed Home Mortgage with growth of 288%.

Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.

E-mail: [email protected]

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