Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Powering the Nation's Mortgage Service Industry Alltel Mortgage Services' Massive Computers Process Millions of U.S. Homeowner Mortgages Every Month

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Powering the Nation's Mortgage Service Industry Alltel Mortgage Services' Massive Computers Process Millions of U.S. Homeowner Mortgages Every Month

Article excerpt

Jim Milligan walks across the Minnesota granite floor of the

atrium lobby of his fairly new 13-story headquarters on Riverside

Avenue, coming to fetch a visitor.

The first hint that this is not your basic Jacksonville

corporate environment is that Milligan is not wearing a suit.

Milligan's company, Alltel Mortgage Services, is not only

different than other Jacksonville companies, it is very different

than what it was four years ago when it was called Computer Power

Inc. and purchased by Alltel Corp.

After a hitting a home run with one big product -- Alltel

provides monstrous computer power to handle millions of mortgages

nationwide -- it has looked change in the eye and tried not to

blink.

"The information services business is changing drastically,"

said Milligan. "More and more, our competitors are not the other

big main frame servicers."

Instead, companies have tried to "nibble around the edges," he

said.

The company's response can be seen in the parking lot.

"The day we did the merger we had 522 people. Today we have

about 1,100," Milligan said. "Virtually all of that [increase]

has gone into new product and expansion of existing product."

Alltel's principal product is providing the long-distance

computing power that banks and others need to handle the monthly

mortgage payments homeowners mail in each month.

About 10 million of the 40 million to 50 million home

mortgages in existence in the U.S. are processed monthly in

Jacksonville on the company's mainframes. Another 6 million are

processed by customers themselves using company software. The

dollar value of all these mortgages is huge: $1.3 trillion.

The company does not disclose revenues but industry watchers

estimate it charges around 75 cents, plus maybe 25 cents, in

various add-on fees per month per mortgage. That implies revenues

of at least $120 million a year just from the 10 million

mortgages serviced in-house.

The company also has a shelf-full of other products that

produce income.

"They are the 800-pound gorilla. They own the mortgage

servicing business," said Carl Faulkner, a managing director at M

One Inc., a Phoenix-based technology consulting firm.

Other industry watchers see another animal, a "cash cow" that

produces a steady, predictable source of money rather than

driving new growth.

NICE PLACE TO WORK

Milligan heads toward the cherry paneled elevators.

Instead of going to the top floor floor and its spectacular

view of the St. Johns River -- where you would expect the boss to

have his office -- Milligan goes around the elevator banks, past

a staircase and into his corner office.

It lacks any of the high-dollar badges that say "the employee

at work here is more important than anyone else working in this

building."

Nevertheless, the floor Milligan works on is nice. The walls

are sheathed in linen and have cherry wood baseboards. There are

plenty of framed prints. The lighting is well-designed. What

could be monotonous passageways are broken up by false

half-pillars at intervals.

Guess what? All the other floors are finished in exactly the

same way. They have the same feel, whether filled with training

rooms for customers or filled with work cubicles for the

programmers writing computer code.

The cubicles next to the outer walls, which are glass, also

have glass sides, so people working in them can look out.

No suits, nice atmosphere, $50,000 a year jobs. …

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