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Branch Operation Dead

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A Boston-based lender that twice ranked among the fastest growing privately held companies has stopped doing new business — putting about 140 employees out of work and leaving more than a dozen branches searching for a new home.

Summit Mortgage LLC is closing shop, founder and CEO Richard Fedele made stated on the company’s Web site. He cited the same tough environment that has brought down dozens of other mortgage companies.

“The company has been bombarded by a rapidly deteriorating mortgage environment and, despite recurring capital infusions, is unable to continue operations,” according to the posting.

Summit said it is no longer taking new loans but that “all loans currently in process will be funded.”

The company operated 10 offices in Massachusetts and four in Florida, according to press release it issued last year when it was named to Inc. magazine’s 2006 list of the nation’s 500 fastest-growing private companies. The lender, which claimed to be “one of the largest privately held direct correspondent lenders in Massachusetts,” also made the 2005 fastest growing list.

“We are thrilled once again to be recognized in the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies nationally,” Fedele said at the time of the 2006 ranking. “This great achievement is testament to all the hard work that all of Summit’s loan officers and staffers do on a daily basis.”

Founded in 1996, Summit said it closed $1.2 billion in loans last year.

“When I founded Summit Mortgage, my guiding principles were to create an organization that fostered a fresh entrepreneurial spirit paired with relentless customer focus, unparalleled knowledge and access to the best programs in the industry,” Fedele previously said in marketing materials.

Among the company’s program offerings were option ARMs, piggyback loans and interest only mortgages. Summit launched a reverse mortgage group in May 2007 and acquired Gateway Mortgage Bankers of Miami last year.

The company is unrelated to Plymouth, Minn.-based Summit Mortgage Corp., another branch operation that operates in some states as Summit Home Mortgage.

“This heartbreaking decision was made only after we considered all possible alternatives,” Fedele said in the latest statement. “We had the best sales, operations and marketing teams in the business. However, the current mortgage environment proved to be insurmountable.”

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