Impac Mortgage is growing and strengthening its operations, but it had to overcome many obstacles, including the financial crisis, to get here. The mortgage lender is one of the last ones standing in Orange County, Calif., mostly do to its strategic adjustments, and the firm's ability to bargain with lenders while slashing overheads. But mostly, it was the firm's decision to never land in bankruptcy that kept it on the right track.

Per the Orange County Register:

“We had to remake ourselves and retool ourselves,” said Joe Tomkinson, chairman and CEO of the company he co-founded in 1995.

The changes at Impac reflect those of the larger mortgage market. Impac no longer offers Alt-A mortgages. Nationally, Alt-A mortgages last year made up only 1.3 percent of the U.S. mortgage market — down from 12 percent before the crash. Funding dried up for those types of loans, which are riskier for lenders under new regulations, Tomkinson said.