Attorney-turned-entrepreneur David Wind’s White Plains-based national mortgage and banking firm has not just survived the recession, it’s thrived, recently relocating its headquarters to a new 10,000-square-foot office to support its expansion. We recently sat down with him over a long coffee break (“dark, one Splenda!”).
Explain your business model.
Rather than be a top-heavy company like the big chain banks, our headquarters in White Plains is more like a hub, with more decentralized control at the branch level. We’re currently in twenty-six states and licensed in twenty-seven, with two-hundred and thirty-seven employees.
How can a firm like yours compete effectively against the large banks?
Thanks to the closure of so many larger firms, we are the recipients of highly qualified, skilled staff that heretofore would not have considered working for a company such as ours. If Wells Fargo was offering a benefits package, how could we possibly compete? But no one expected they’d send an armed guard to each desk and ask people to pack. Plus technology has allowed the loan process to become incredibly streamlined and efficient. We know in an instant if someone is qualified to consummate a transaction, and therefore we’ve compressed the period of time necessary to bring a transaction to conclusion.
How were you able to insulate yourself from the recession and housing market collapse?
We have a profit-sharing model that includes everyone from the receptionist to me. So when things began to slow down, our fixed costs decreased dramatically because we were required to compensate people less and we didn’t need to lay anyone off, so our service level didn’t drop. Also, we did not engage in many of the things that made many of my colleagues inordinate sums of money, some of whom got out before the crash and are set for life, and others who are in handcuffs or behind bars.
Do you do commercial lending, as well?
We have a separate group that does commercial lending, that’s completely unaffiliated with our residential group. In today’s market you compete on the basis of customer service, and we want our people to be focused and committed to residential service. There is a tendency, even among the most stalwart veterans, to get stars in their eyes about an $11 million golf course development across the street from a leaking gas station. In our world you do one thing and you do it very well.