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VOL. 127 | NO. 99 | Monday, May 21, 2012

Churchill Mortgage Growth Highlights Industry News

By Andy Meek

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Here’s a roundup of what some of the city’s banks and bankers, investment professionals, accountants and other financial services shops have been up to in recent weeks.

* Brentwood, Tenn.-based Churchill Mortgage, which has a retail office at 5384 Poplar Ave. that opened a little more than two years ago, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

And company founder Mike Hardwick doesn’t expect things to slow down anytime soon.

Nor does he expect his business to overheat beyond what it can handle, either. And all that’s by design.

“We have had 20 years of just slow, steady, progressive growth,” he said. “When we started back in 1992, my vision was, frankly, to be not that big. I wanted to do mortgage loans. And we decided to fund our growth out of cash flow. We were not going to borrow money. And we’ve been able to live by that commitment.

“When we need a new phone system, we pay cash for it. If we can’t afford to buy a new one, we patch the one we’ve got until we can buy a new one.”

Hardwick said some of the firm’s best years have been the last three to four. Last year was the company’s best ever, with gross loan volume hitting $830 million.

“We have had 20 years of just slow, steady, progressive growth.”

–Mike Hardwick
Founder, Churchill Mortgage

This year, it’s on pace to do in excess of $1 billion and wants to get to $2 billion.

The firm employs a little more than 250 people. Right now, it has 17 branches but anticipates growing that to 25.

Hardwick said the firm has tried to adhere to a principle his dad once taught him: “Always value people over property.”

* Local CPA firm Patrick Accounting and Tax Services has added several new employees since the beginning of this year.

Managing member Matt Patrick said that’s because in the last three years, the firm has quadrupled its business.

“In the last six months, really since October, we’ve really seen another good stretch of growth,” Patrick said. “And we’ve hired a really good team because of it.”

The Germantown-based firm opened in 2004 and has 13 employees. Patrick describes it as a “technology-driven accounting firm.”

Earlier this year, the company created a new division called Patrick Payroll housed within its main office to be a “payroll partner” for small business clients and updated its website, among other things.

* Similarly, Kelman-Lazarov Inc., a wealth management firm housed in Clark Tower, is hiring and also preparing to move into more space within the tower.

Kelman-Lazarov recently brought Stephen Parr on board to work on research and portfolio analysis. He also assists with financial reporting and cost basis calculations, in addition to any other needs the firm’s clients may have.

The firm will move down a few floors to the 28th floor of Clark Tower. Kristen Ellis, a registered representative with the firm, said the firm has more staff than its current space can handle – “which is a good thing!”

* Meanwhile, Memphis-based Evolve Bank & Trust recently tapped Joe Jenkins as president of its Arkansas markets.

Jenkins has been an Evolve Bank & Trust board member since 2009, and he has more than 40 years of banking experience that includes serving as chairman and president of the former Citizens Bank in Marion, Ark.

* On the trends front, firms like Red Door Wealth Management are starting to see evidence of the pervasiveness of what’s been described as “financial caregiving.”

Adult children are increasingly moving back home after college for a variety of economic reasons – to save money and to keep out of debt (or to escape debt) while the job market remains uncertain.

Red Door chief operating officer Fred Hiatt said this trend is impacting the firm’s business in the sense that its services are being used and expanded to meet needs beyond basic investment services.

“We would help (such clients) plan and possibly remove some of the financial management burden off of them so they can tend to their family,” Hiatt said. “We can also bring in the services of our sister company Cannon Wright Blount to assist with tax planning and bill pay for the elderly. Our goal is to make sure our client does not derail their own financial plans. Just like a business facing a decline, we encourage clients to lower their fixed costs or grow revenue. If they can’t grow revenue, then sometimes households must be combined to share the weight of costs.”

MORTGAGES 110 170 916
BUILDING PERMITS 133 290 1,948