LESTER DOMINICK'S PLAN IN 1980 was to establish a consulting firm to assist mortgage lenders with information technology (IT). Prior to that, Dominick was using his certified public accountant (CPA) skills auditing mortgage companies and savings-and-loans (S&Ls) for Arthur Young & Co., which later became Ernst & Young. [paragraph] At that time, microcomputers were appearing on desks at mortgage companies. Dominick believed these machines brought benefits to firms that couldn't afford a traditional mainframe computer. He began writing software for his early clients, and turned his Jacksonville, Florida-based consulting firm into a software company--Mortgage-Flex Systems Inc.
Yet consulting remains at the heart of the MortgageFlex approach. Instead of seeing itself as a software vendor, MortgageFlex works with clients to make sure each one's IT system reflects their way of doing business.
"Each customer is unique," explains Dominick. "Their markets and company cultures are different." Deploying Mort-gageFlex's flagship LoanQuest lending platform is a joint effort with clients, he observes.
"The best customer is one who wants to engage you in finding a solution," agrees Craig Bechtle, chief operating officer at MortgageFlex. "Companies want to differentiate themselves," he adds, and aligning their mortgage software to their business plan provides the potential to stand out.
Dominick is something of an anomaly in that he still enjoys serving as president of the firm he founded more than 30 years ago. Many of his technology peers X*, have sold their companies and retired--often at a housing cycle peak. Yet "this business never gets boring," asserts Dominick, who admits he's not much of a golfer. "There's always a challenge."
MortgageFlex execs are aware that Loan-Quest won't reach its potential without input from the lenders who will be putting the system to work. Two implementation specialists are assigned to new MortgageFlex clients, and programmers assist as needed.
LoanQuest implementation varies according to the business needs of each client. For example, credit unions see themselves as providing services to their members, and subsequently aren't as transaction-oriented as a wholesale mortgage lender is, explains Dominick.
MortgageFlex has a team of people who work just with credit unions, he adds. He says "a totally different skill set is required" to set up lending software at a credit union compared with what a...