In attempt to successfully wade the troubled waters of the economy, one national alliance of mortgage bankers is careful to continue its steady expansion. "Independent mortgage bankers must rely heavily on the help of their peers to transform today’s mortgage challenges into opportunities for growth," says Scott Stern, CEO of Lenders One. Following the addition of 42 new members in 2008, Lenders One Mortgage Cooperative continues to grow, adding seven new members to its cooperative in first-quarter 2009 and another six members in April. New to the roster in first quarter include Ideal Home Loans out of Englewood, Colo., Covenant Mortgage, Westford, Mass.; Advisors Mortgage Group, Manasquan, N.J.; Platte Valley Bank, Platte City, Mo.; Pinnacle Mortgage Group, Lakewood, Colo.; and Trident Mortgage Company, Devon, Pa. Stern says his company provides members access to quality products and services, while giving them opportunities to network with a variety of industry professionals. "Lenders One’s business model gives us the power of combined purchasing and working with some of the best investors and vendors," says Julie Barker, executive vice president of Oakstar Bank, who believes the bank will become stronger because of its membership with Lenders One. Write to Kelly Curran.