For Laurel Caliendo, it’s quality, in-person service that has helped keep her mortgage company in business – and in touch with the community.
“People come in, visit us and drop off payments. That’s unique for us,” said Caliendo, president and CEO of Village Mortgage Company. “That’s how you build a strong foundation.”
Last year, Village Mortgage originated about $325 million in mortgages, and Caliendo said the firm is on track for at least $500 million this year.
But Caliendo won’t take all the credit for Village Mortgage’s success. “The biggest asset I have without a doubt is the staff. They’re unbelievable,” she said.
Now with over 50 employees, the firm Caliendo founded out of her home 17 years ago continues to expand. By the end of this year, the firm will have seven locations, with a new headquarters in Avon, Conn., though it will retain its office in Torrington. In September, two new branches will open.
Indeed, Caliendo’s employees look to her for guidance and are inspired by her work ethic. “Laurel is super woman. She is very strong, resourceful and intelligent. She is a great role model and she inspires me to achieve more,” said Nicole Roy, a loan processor at Village Mortgage. “She has put in a lot of hard work, time and dedication to create a company from the ground up, while being a superb wife and mother.”
Caliendo said she never intended to end up in the mortgage business. She worked at a law office after obtaining an associate’s degree in American studies from Colby Sawyer College in New London. When she was laid off, she found work upstairs in the same building at a mortgage finance company, where she helped the firm makes its loan application documents accessible on computer software, as opposed to typewriters. That’s where she learned about mortgages, despite being “a horrible math student.”
Caliendo, originally from Canaan, later moved to another bank to set up its mortgage business. But she said she realized after her second child was born that her commute to work in Bristol was too long from Salisbury, and her entrepreneurial spirit took hold.
Caliendo started Village Mortgage Company in 1996. It began as a broker business, and Caliendo received her Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac license to be a direct lender several years later.
Despite the gloomy economy that’s been characterized of late by the refinance boom, Caliendo said her company has made sure to stay in touch with Realtors. “When people come back [to real estate], it’s been very important,” she said. “A lot of people are starting to buy again.”