LLL closed out 2021 by going back to where it all began…with Co-Founders Jim Paolino and David Spektor.
Jim became a father for the first time in late 2021, while Dave’s first child was born in 2020. Needless to say, these events had major impacts on the gentlemen and their families. But how did it affect their lives on the business front? Dave told us that he values his time now much more than he used to. He stressed the importance of fathers co-parenting with mothers. “You want to be there for the amazing—and awful—moments,” he observed.
As for Jim, the first few months of fatherhood have been an “exercise in patience!” Jim admits that, right now, his “patience outside of dealing with daughter may be thin!” He also expressed gratitude to the LodeStar staff and their ability to keep the operation humming in his absence. He also noted that his paternity leave may have been his first mental break since founding the company nine years ago.
Both co-founders revealed that LodeStar’s paternity/maternity leave policy was shaped by a poor experience Dave’s family experienced elsewhere. This drove Jim and Dave to design a policy based upon fairness and equality, with an emphasis on mom’s AND dad’s being able to take the same leave and help with the parenting.
Of course, Dave finally realized the end of his T-shirt gun dream now that Jim is also a parent. But that wasn’t the only change LodeStar experienced in 2021!
Dave observed that the “crazy explosion of POS tools” in the mortgage industry have driven demand for LodeStar’s products. He also noted LodeStar is doing many more integrations with these POS tools. Jim agreed. “Getting accurate fees quickly is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’,” but a must have. He has also observed increased interest in the market as to how tech tools integrate, improved workflows, connectivity and clarity.
Both Jim and Dave acknowledged that the mortgage industry is now experiencing a wave of layoffs and bemoaned the traditional staff-up/staff-down personnel model as inefficient and costly. Jim specifically noted the high cost of laying off personnel, then having to hire/re-hire and train again when markets improve. “It’s wasted money,” he said.
2021 was a year of prioritizing process, not only for the mortgage industry on the whole, but for LodeStar, experiencing tremendous growth, as well. Dave emphasized that process needs to be scalable. “It’s not just about throwing bodies into the workflow,” he said. “You have to have tools that maximize your staff efforts.” Jim and Dave also agreed that continuous improvement has become a major priority as well.
Jim related several examples of LodeStar growing out of its established, manual processes in maintaining its own operations. Things like billing, for example, are now automated at LodeStar. In short, 2021 was a year which saw LodeStar hit a new level of growth; one requiring a review and upgrade of many things that worked well enough…until now.
Asked for one word (or three words) to wrap up 2021, Jim waivered between “tired” and “we learned a lot.” Dave settled for “growth has changed us a lot.”