Q&A with Bellwether President Ned Huffman

Ned Huffman, president of Bellwether Enterprise, talks about the company's intention to merge with Towle Financial Services.

Ned-Huffman2By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Cleveland-based Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital L.L.C. last week announced its intention to merge with Towle Financial Services, a full-service mortgage banking firm with offices in Minneapolis and Detroit. The move is part of the company’s strategy for growth. Ned Huffman, president of Bellwether Enterprise, agreed to tell us more about the merger.

CPE: Why has Bellwether selected Towle for its expansion plans?

Huffman: Bellwether has selected Towle for its expansion plans because it is an excellent cultural fit, with locations in markets where we want to expand.  We approached Towle in part due to the quality, top-notch talent of Mike Vannelli, president of Towle Financial Services, and his team of qualified employees.  Geographic aspects are important to our overall growth plans, but people are major consideration, as well.

CPE: Can you give us any financial details on the merger?

Huffman: Financial details are private other than to highlight the principals of Towle will retain equity in the Bellwether Enterprise organization, ensuring an alignment of interest going forward.

CPE: What will Bellwether gain from the merger?

Huffman: Towle gives us the ability to expand our market footprint to the upper Midwest region, with a top-quality production and servicing operation. There has been much growth and excitement in the upper Midwest in terms of resurgence; we appreciate the loyalty often displayed in that region and are looking forward to being a part of the ongoing revitalization there. It’s very similar to Cleveland, an area and culture we know very well.  Also, Enterprise is active in the upper Midwest, which makes it a logical place for us to expand.

CPE: What will Towle gain from the merger?

Huffman: Towle will be an integral part of the Bellwether Enterprise operation.  Specifically, Towle will increase its access to lending products through FHA, FNMA, Freddie Mac, providing additional direct lending alternatives to its borrowers.

CPE: How will the merger influence Bellwether’s future operations, and what impact will it have on the company’s clients?

Huffman: No change in future operations.

CPE: What are Bellwether’s plans for Minneapolis and Detroit?

Huffman: Mark Vannelli, president of Towle Financial Services, will serve as the director of production for Bellwether Enterprises’ Central Region.  With Mark’s leadership, we will continue to look for expansion opportunities throughout the entire region.

CPE: What are Bellwether’s future plans for growth?

Huffman: Bellwether has been undergoing a long-term strategy for expansion. Since we became a subsidiary of Enterprise Commercial Investment Inc. in 2012, we’ve had a goal of becoming the best commercial mortgage banking company in the country. Our first phase involved merging with Enterprise and incorporating policies, procedures. In the second phase, we focused on building our infrastructure to support future growth in loan production and servicing volume. Now, as we are executing our expansion phase, Towle is our most recent announcement. In the past few months, we’ve grown into New England and the Western region of the United States.