“We started as Budget Mortgage back in 1994 when I had what I call the day of reckoning. We needed to find a niche that would serve our clients and we did.”
That’s Sergio Spadavecchia, who along with his brother Saverio started One Stop Mortgage Corp. over 20 years ago. I stole a couple minutes of Sergio’s time to learn more about One Stop’s origins and how the team has developed over the years.
KC: Tell me a bit more about your journey through the mortgage industry.
SS: Prior to starting One Stop my experience was in underwriting with First City Trust a leasing company and with RBC - Canadian Airlines in their credit card division for about 6 months. We believed our niche was to become a private lender but at the time it wasn’t about a plotting a career, it was about creating an entity.
What do you know now you wish you’d known earlier in your career?
I wish we would have been more ambitious from the beginning and maybe not played low-key all the time. If we would have taken more chances and strategized earlier it might have paid off. Although, now that I think about it, in ’97 there was a big lull and we were actually stronger than most because we were lean and had no liabilities. Saverio and I are doers, which can be a good thing - we wake up and get things done, but in a business you need to be well-rounded. We didn’t have that skill early on, so looking back I wished we realized that we didn’t have all the tools to succeed so we could have more acknowledged our weaknesses and acted to address them quicker.
Hindsight is 20/20 right?
Definitely. We learned as we progressed through the industry so we built a true hands-on approach. We stick to that these days as well, it’s worked for us and it’s worked for our clients.
I asked Mark Chala this question a couple weeks ago as well, mortgages and loans, it’s a pressure-filled industry. Does the pressure ever get to you?
The real pressure is trying to fulfill expectations. Because we’re a small business it’s like fighting a grizzly bear. Actually no, a black bear because you just have to look big, you already possess the means to overcome the challenge. Your emails have to be crisp, you have to act like a blue chip corporation to make sure people are comfortable. Anybody can go anywhere, there are other gigantic companies, so we’re constantly under pressure to fulfill needs in a timely manner. Because we’re a smaller company we rely on relationships we’ve created and fostered over the years. In big companies humans can be the weakest link, for us that’s our strongest asset.
So the pressure is almost external and you simply need to recognize it.
Exactly. We would never want to pressure a lender to make an investment, so sometimes we need to tell a borrower that we need some time because our lender needs some time. That’s where the real pressure is, you’re dealing with humans, with emotions, and you never want to force anyone to make this huge decision based on such sensitive issues.
And all of your lenders are private?
100% of our lenders are private. We never deal with banks. That’s the full dimension of One Stop Mortgage, we’re dealing with humans on the lender and the borrower side, so there’s trust to be earned and maintained.
For instance, right now we’ve got a great deal in Alberta, but there are so many conflicting opinions on the oilsands and the market. People read one newspaper article and then they get uncomfortable and they pull out, and we respect that. Stability is key in everything, and right now the economy is in a period of flux, but as long as transactions keep happening our business will be fine, but it’s important people feel comfortable with their affairs. That’s why we only do private deals, because there’s no automation, it’s all human interaction.