Steve Horne, the founder, CEO and president of Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, was removed from leading the company he founded in 2008, multiple sources have told HousingWire.
Several sources have confirmed to HousingWire that Horne was removed from his position two weeks ago and failed in his recent efforts to be reinstated by the company he founded.
As of 12:41 a.m. on Thursday, Horne was still listed on the company’s website as its CEO and president.
“Steven Horne brings a wealth of mortgage servicing experience to clients,” Wingspan’s website states. “He is a career-long expert in creating and executing strategies to mitigate losses in real estate portfolios of all types, with a specialized concentration in managing the most challenging assets.”
Dallas-based Wingspan is a mortgage services provider that partners with lenders, servicers, investors, mortgage insurers, and attorneys to provide outsourced services, including mortgage underwriting, due diligence and other services.
One source said the Horne was removed from his position after a series of questionable decisions.
The primary pain point, they said, was the mid-2013 acquisition of insurance claims management specialist Dimont & Associates.
The deal required Wingspan to take on mezzanine debt, something reportedly new to the organization. Those debt holders began to grow unsteady when Wingspan allegedly failed to pay even the first payment due. Dimont has since allegedly been divested from the company in order to satisfy the debt taken on for its very purchase, the source said.
Another issue with Horne, another source said, was the allotment of the company’s philanthropic resources toward a family member's singing career. It is unclear how exactly this happened and the source would not elaborate, instead stating, “the bottom line is Steve mixed personal expenses with professional expenses.”
HousingWire was made aware of Horne’s departure by sources on October 2. Wingspan Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Industry Relations Guy Davis has officially denied the ouster of Horne as President, however, and declined further comment despite repeated attempts.
When contacted last week about the rumors of Horne's ouster, Davis said, "The rumor is completely inaccurate and Steve Horne continues to lead the Wingspan organization."
The Horne news comes on the heels of reports of recent layoffs at two of Wingspan’s offices.
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Wingspan Portfolio Advisors had laid off a number of employees at its Monroe, Louisiana customer service center, with employees being told they were being “furloughed” by the company and could potentially rehired if Wingspan acquires more business.
And on Wednesday, HousingWire reported that the company had also “furloughed” a number of employees at its Melbourne, Florida location.
When contacted about the layoffs, Wingspan Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Industry Relations Guy Davis told HousingWire in an email that the company “remains committed” to its presence in Melbourne.
“It is in the nature of our work with large financial institutions to wrap up specific contracts for services and to have brief periods of time before new contracts begin,” Davis said in his email.
“Last week, a number of employees were impacted at our Melbourne location,” Davis continued. “Wingspan continues to focus on servicing our existing clients and new clients, and we are committed to the Melbourne location for key growth, and use of top talent in the mortgage, banking, customer service and default servicing industries.”
When Horne founded Wingspan in 2008, the company was touted as a “high touch” special servicer. “There are very few specialists out there with the tools and skills needed to cure these nonperforming mortgages, and so many times these loans, and especially the ones with low equity or low balances, are given up on,” Horne said at the time.
Shortly after opening its doors in October 2008, Wingspan received an injection of funding from JAM Equity Partners, LLC, when the fund invested $2.5 million in Wingspan.
In the years since the company was founded, Wingspan has grown exponentially. The company was recently named to HousingWire’s HW Fast50 — a list of the 50-fastest growing companies in the housing economy.
Wingspan ranked 20th on the list, with a yearly growth of 55.3% from 2012 to 2013. In 2012, the company’s revenue was $77,192,000. The company’s revenue in 2013 grew to $119,891,000.
At the time, Wingspan said that it would offer positions to the more than 400 Chase employees that staffed the Melbourne location. In the deal, Wingspan also acquired the lease of the Chase office building.
"This is big news for us and we see it as indicative of where our industry is headed," Wingspan CEO and President Steven Horne said at the time. "We are now fully equipped to meet the needs of clients as they downsize the scale of their default servicing operations."
Wingspan expanded again later in 2013, when it purchased JPMorgan Chase’s customer service center in Monroe, Louisiana.
“With this new addition, Wingspan expands its ability to respond to clients’ needs with superb customer service capabilities,” Horne said at the time. “We are often called upon to scale quickly and effectively to help our clients as their priorities change, and this acquisition enables Wingspan to react to requests with significant speed and very high service quality.”
Earlier this year, Horne said the company was looking to continue its pattern of acquisition and expansion.
“We are definitely open to additional expansion if the right opportunity becomes available,” Horne said in February. “But we are more focused on helping new and existing clients be profitable and meet their challenges in the new regulatory environment.”
Days later, Horne spoke exclusively with HousingWire’s Brena Swanson and outlined the three key areas that the company has built its business on:
1. Production: “There is always a client's need for production. They need something done, which gives you the opportunity to get into quality,” Horne said.
2. Quality: “This is what keeps the relationship and allows the relationship to grow over time," Horne explained. “It is something that we pride ourselves on — delivering an outstanding level of quality.”
3. Transparency: Ultimately, it is not enough to say all those things, Horne noted. “You have to be able to back it up and prove it with transparent, accountable data that says, ‘here are our results and we are willing to be measured by them and paid by them,’” he said.
Now, just a few months after speaking about growing his company’s footprint, Horne is out at Wingspan.
Prior to starting Wingspan in 2008, Horne was a director of Servicing Risk Strategy with Fannie Mae. He also spent nine years as a partner with Sherman Financial Group, as well as serving as a director of default servicing for Ocwen Financial Corp. (OCN).
“It appears Wingspan does not care for their employees, families nor the community as they also did not inform Brevard County workforce of the layoffs,” one former Wingspan employee at the Melbourne location told HousingWire.
The former employee, who wished to remain anonymous, also told HousingWire that Wingspan created a hostile work environment in Melbourne, which caused clients to abandon the extension of their contracts, leading to the layoffs.