Michael Donoghue was working for Intercounty Mortgage Inc. in 1999 when CFS Bank's residential mortgage business was acquired by M&T Bank Corp. subsidiary M&T Mortgage Corp.
M&T wanted to move IMI personnel to its mortgage offices in Buffalo. Donoghue wanted to keep his IMI team together because he thought local operations were crucial.
He founded Premium Mortgage Corp. in late 1999. He and colleague Alexia Barbarossa opened the residential mortgage lending business in the spring of 2000.
Donoghue and 17 other loan officers work from the company's headquarters on Monroe Avenue in Brighton. Premium Mortgage has branch offices in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville and in Montpelier, Vt. The Williamsville office includes seven loan officers. The Vermont office has two.
The company opened a satellite office last fall in Geneseo, Livingston County. Amy Bell, sales manager for HSBC Mortgage Corp. in Livingston County for nearly 20 years before HSBC sold its retail branches, is the loan officer there. She joined Premium Mortgage in early 2011.
Premium Mortgage grew to 10 employees six months after opening in 2000 and now employs 86 people companywide.
Donoghue expects steady employment growth in the coming years.
"I use Rochester as a base," he said. "When I started in this business, mortgage rates were 10 percent. Over the years, I've found that the mortgage market has been pretty stable here."
The company's recent growth is due in part to the subprime mortgage crisis, which prompted the 2008 recession, and also has come from repeat and referred clients, Donoghue said.
The mortgage issues did, however, result in Donohue laying off half of his employees in 2008, though less than 10 percent of Premium Mortgage's business involved subprime loans.
"During the mortgage crisis, a lot of the mortgage companies went out of business," Donoghue said. "We inherited their employees."
Premium Mortgage increased employment by 60 percent from 2010 to 2011, from 42 to 67 staff members.
Revenues jumped 50 percent in 2011 to $7.8 million from $5.2 million in 2010. They spiked 68 percent in 2012, to $13.1 million.
As a mortgage broker, Premium Mortgage works with several lenders to find the best interest rate and terms for its clients, Donoghue said. Banks and credit unions, he said, do not offer that variety.
Donoghue, a Brighton native, graduated from Brighton High School. After serving in the U.S. Army, he graduated from Nazareth College of Rochester.
In addition to his experience in residential lending, Donoghue also has worked in real estate sales.
He tried to develop six luxury condominiums at Barrington Street and Park Avenue in 2008 on property he had acquired years earlier, but the $5 million project fell through when the market crashed.
"I've probably known Mike for 20 years," said Armand D'Alfonso, president and CEO of Nothnagle Realtors in Rochester.
"Mike has surrounded himself with the best people in the business, and he's not a typical mortgage banker. He's available 24/7 to any of our agents who need his services."
Nothnagle is the largest residential real estate firm in the Rochester market. It established a partnership with Premium Mortgage in November 2008 as an option for home financing along with Nothnagle Home Securities Corp.
"Mortgages are a key part of a successful transaction, and we try to bring the best mortgage services to our agents," D'Alfonso said.
"Phil Nothnagle started that with his own mortgage company back in 1969. I had a conversation with Mike and realized that a lot of customers wanted a choice. I felt like Mike would be a great fit."
The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year's Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 6. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.
Premium Mortgage Corp.
Residential mortgage lending company
2012 ranking: 38
Top executive: CEO Michael Donoghue
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