When Rich Weidel took over his family-owned lender Princeton Mortgage, the company had funded 11 loans in January of 2018, employed about a dozen people and had zero loan officers.
Just three years later, they’re on track to do about $1.5 billion in mortgage originations and were ranked as the 502nd-fastest growing company in America, according to INC Magazine’s latest 5,000 list.
HousingWire sat down with Weidel last week to learn about the challenges in rapidly growing the mortgage lender, hiring people from outside the industry, and why paying average performers poorly and great performers very well is the smart approach.
Here is our HW+ interview with Weidel, which has been edited for length and clarity.
James Kleimann: You were just named to the INC 5000 list – one of about a half-dozen mortgage lenders. What was the reaction at Princeton Mortgage to the news?
Rich Weidel: For the team, it’s very validating. What I mean by that is that we got together three or four years ago, we looked at Scotsman Guide and said, “Hey, what’s possible to do in a 10-year period?” We looked at from 2008 to 2018, what companies had achieved and grown, and we said, let’s go do it. For us, the thing that brings Princeton together is this sort of sense of adventure. We want to do really great work with really good people and see what we can achieve.
JK: Could you talk about some of the operational challenges in growing so quickly?
RW: So when you’re growing like we’ve grown, most companies do this level of growth, either never or a 20- or 30-year period. So we jam 20 or 30 years of problems in the three-and-a-half years. And so at any given day, you just feel like you’re failing and something’s broken and something’s not working, and you’ve outgrown it. You go with a process or you hire a leader and they’re great, but they’re only great for six months because the growth just blows through that. So you’re constantly in build mode and get to sit back and say, “You know what, while there’s a lot of stuff we wish we were better at, we’re pretty much outperforming every other company except for 501 of them.”