HOUGHTON - Ed Burger knows what it takes to build a successful business.
Burger is the founder and president of Midwest Loan Services of Houghton. He opened the business in 1991 on the third floor of the City Centre with the vision of providing mortgage loan services to companies from around the country.
"It's called subservicing," Burger explained. "What we do is we collect payments, pay taxes, pay insurance and do the unfortunate things like foreclosures. Companies hire us to do that."
Employees with Midwest Loan Services are seen standing along the Houghton Waterfront.
Burger, who previously worked at the former D&N Bank in Hancock, said the reason he started the business was because he saw an opportunity to bring in revenues from outside the Upper Peninsula.
"There are a lot of skills in this area for loan servicing and it's the kind of business that runs from computers, telephones and the post office," he said. "You don't have to be there to make a mortgage payment so it seemed like an excellent opportunity for this part of the world."
Very few of the loans Midwest Loans services are in the local market, Burger said.
"Well over 95 percent of our revenues come from outside the U.P. and probably over 90 percent come from outside Michigan so it brings new money into the area," he said. "It's the kind of business that seemed to make sense for here."
In addition to servicing loans, Midwest Loans specializes in the origination of mortgage loans primarily for the credit union industry.
"We originate from around the country, but in the local market, we also do some loans for our own account," he said. "What happens is the loans typically get sold off to government agencies. You've been hearing about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the news."
Burger said they sell their loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and in turn, service those loans for them.
"You as a borrower may come to Midwest and borrow money to buy a home, start making payments and you'll never know the difference because you continue to make your payments to us," he said. "That's one of the advantages that we offer to people in the Copper Country. You always get to make your payments here."
Midwest Loans originates and service loans in the 50 states and has employees in New York, Florida, California, Wisconsin, Maine and Michigan.
Burger said they currently service approximately $6 billion in mortgage loans.
"We are one of the largest companies that specializes in servicing loans for credit unions," he said. "We've been growing at 30 percent a year the last five years and we expect to continue that growth into the near future."
Midwest Loans has great potential for being a significant economic benefit to the community.
Burger said they hire about one employee for every thousand loans they service.
"We're growing at a rate of about six to seven hundred loans a month. That's equivalent to about half an employee a month as a rate of growth," he said.
When they first started off, Burger said they had one employee - himself. Today there are approximately 62 employees.
The senior staff has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry and there is a very low employee turnover.
"It's a great learning experience for the employees because they get to deal with companies and customers from all around the country," Burger said. "Our work is basically done over the Internet and telephone so they gain that experience as well."
Midwest Loans has remained in the City Centre since it opened its doors. And, if need be, Burger said they still have the room to grow.
"We have room here for at least another 60 employees," he said.
When asked what he enjoys most about the business, Burger said it's knowing that he built it himself.
"The question I've heard more often than any other over the years is, 'How did a company of that size with that experience ever get in Houghton, Mich.' That's the question I like the most because of the fact that we have built a company that we believe is sustainable and will be here long after we're gone, contributing important economics to the area," he said. "Twenty years ago there weren't many places for young people to go and get a job. That's one of the things this area suffers from - people would like to live here but where do they work. This kind of company provides not only entry level jobs but higher programming jobs, customer service jobs, financial analysis, loan officer jobs, etc., to create real growth opportunities for people who want to stay in this part of the world."
Midwest Loan Services is located on the third floor of the City Centre at 616 Shelden Ave. in Houghton. Business hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Online services are available 24/7. Visit midwestloanservices.com or membersforlife.com. For more information, call 487-5870.
Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by Midwest Loan Services of Houghton. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.