AmeriCU Mortgage, a Troy, Mich.-based provider of mortgage services to credit unions, has opened operations in the offices formerly occupied by Central States Mortgage Co. at 10425 W. North Ave. in Wauwatosa.
Central States Mortgage abruptly ceased operations on March 8. The company filed for receivership late last week, and has a pending civil case against its founder alleging racketeering and wire fraud that caused more than $15 million in losses.
AmeriCU has about 45 employees in Wauwatosa, most of whom are former Central States employees, said Don Calcaterra Jr., chief executive officer of AmeriCU. Most of the former Central States employees hired at AmeriCU worked in operations and sales.
AmeriCU was looking to open an office before Central States began having problems, Calcaterra said.
"We do a lot of business in Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana," he said. "The partner we do business with in Minnesota does a lot of business in Wisconsin, and they encouraged us to start doing business there."
The credit union mortgage servicer was looking for the right pool of employees in Wisconsin when it learned of Central States’ problems. The companies had known of each other previously because they were competitors.
AmeriCU officials made their first visit to the Milwaukee on March 10, after most Central States employees learned of the company’s closure. AmeriCU received approval from the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to start operations on March 18 and hired most of its 45 employees later that week.
"This situation required us to move quickly," Calcaterra said. "If it were not for the people (we met in Wisconsin) we would have backed off. We felt that the people were high quality and that they would fit in well with our culture, which is very important to our company."
During its first 72 hours of operations, AmeriCU closed 15 pending mortgages that had been in the pipeline at Central States when it shut down.
AmeriCU is now looking for another two to five operations workers and additional sales staff, Calcaterra said.
"There’s no specific number (of sales staff). We’re looking for quality people and we’ll hire as many as we can," he said.