From Los Angeles, CA, Brian Mingham is the President of CFSI Loan Management (CFSI). He started off his career in the mortgage banking field and worked for a couple of large mortgage companies.He worked for Countrywide Home Loans for over 10 years in the residential/consumer business and later in the lending division calling on mortgage brokers. He subsequently worked at JP Morgan Chase in their bulk servicing acquisitions group until 2009 when due to the recession Chase decided to close that part of their business.
Brian Mingham and a partner decided to start a property preservation company that would help banks manage their default real estate portfolios. Due to his previous work in the mortgage industry, he had a lot of contacts that helped him get started. He thought this business would keep him busy during the recession until he could get back into the mortgage business, but the company did very well and grew very quickly. Subsequently they started an inspection company and that turned into starting a construction company, and then that turned into starting an asset management company, and all these companies were revolving around default residential real estate. Brian was managing four separate businesses and then decided to roll them all up to just have one entity because they could see that the default business would not remain stable forever.
As the economy was now changing again, Brian Mingham decided to start CFSI Loan Management. He believed it would be a business that would do well as the economy picked up and building and construction came back and that is exactly what happened. The default business continued to slow down, and the construction business started to pick up. A little over two years ago, Brian completely closed the default services business and concentrated all of his efforts into CFSI. Becoming self-employed taught him to strategically look ahead and see where things are going and act upon that. CFSI manages about $8 billion in construction loans currently.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
It is great to be self-employed. I enjoy having the ability to know I can do it. You challenge yourself every day to wake up and find another way to serve your clients and continue cross sell other new products and services. It is fun when you get a new account and a new client.
What keeps you motivated?
Fear of failure keeps me motivated. I am always trying to do better than the day before.
How do you motivate others?
I have good leadership in my company that are good at motivating my people, but I don’t feel it is my strength.
I always tell people you are either good at operations or you are good at sales. Whichever you are, hire the best person that is the opposite of you and let them do their thing. I handle my limitations by hiring people that are smarter or better than I am in the areas where I am not as strong.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
I don’t. I work too much. You have got to find a way to do it. You vacation when you can at the last minute, but I enjoy what I do, so for me work does not always seem like work. Most of the time it is enjoyable. If you find something you love to do, then it really is not work. I don’t consider it work. I considering building and supporting the 50 people I have in my company to keep paying their bills and put savings away and all that good stuff.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
Not having a mentor was an obstacle for me. I did not plan to be self-employed, and I did not have a mentor that helped me to get started. I was on my own to figure it out, and I had to be strong and figure out how to make it work by myself. I had to learn to rely on myself and figure out my own solutions. I learned to trust my gut and trust people outside of what might be your normal circle. I talk to a lot of people and do a lot of reading to educate myself. I also learned to hire smarter people to help me find solutions. I encourage people to think outside the box and be free to think for themselves and not in a predetermined fashion.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
The best piece of advice I ever had from a successful entrepreneur was always follow the money and watch the math. You have to pay attention to the details. Don’t let expenses get out of hand and pay attention to the bottom line.
People steal from smaller businesses and you have got to pay very close attention and have a lot of checks and balances in there, especially as it relates to client funds because things can go sideways pretty quick.
Make quick decisions. If you have to hire or fire or lay off, make it happen quickly. Don’t wait. I had to deal with that in the mortgage business, but it’s different when it is your own company. You know them all personally and you know their families. You can’t ride the business into the dirt or everybody is impacted, so you have to make some tough decisions.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Raising a good kid has been my best accomplishment.
Professionally, it would just be reinventing myself. People that I’ve known for 20 years tell me all the time that they are proud of me for taking lemons and making lemonade out of it and that means a lot to me.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
I would say it is community involvement. I am very active in the sheriff’s department where I live in supporting law enforcement. I spend a lot of time doing fundraising and things like Toys for Tots at Christmastime. I like giving back to the community.
What trends in your industry excite you?
It has not happened yet, but people are working towards making things more automated in this industry, but there are a lot of challenges with that and especially with construction projects.
Being able to use Docusign for a mortgage or a refi would make the process a lot faster, but it is not available yet.
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
We’ve been doubling every year since we started, and so we anticipate that growth to continue. I would like to be a more well-diversified organization that would allow us to survive the ups and downs of construction and commercial/residential construction lending across the U.S. and that would mean a larger inspection business, a larger audit business, and a larger evaluation business. The growth of those different types of products would allow us to penetrate existing organizations. It is tough to get a client, so the more we can provide additional services to them, the longer we are likely to keep them. Instead of trying to add on more and more clients, we try to keep our clients by meeting their needs in several areas. Our goal is to work smarter, not harder. We want to continue to grow and add products to our offering.