MILA shuts down

MILA, a subprime wholesale lender based in Mountlake Terrace, WA just north of Seattle, closed it’s doors Friday afternoon, leaving the remaining 100+ employees (down from 600 last fall) only 15 minutes to check their emails and clear out their desks. MILA had been making staff reductions as far back as February of 2006.

The Seattle Times reports that a potential buyer of the company spent a week wandering around MILA headquarters, but no deal materialized.

Real estate agents: Loans in process but not yet funded now must be resubmitted to other lenders. 

For your reading entertainment, here are a couple of articles from the archives. The ad on the left is promoting a pay-option ARM.

What Bubble?
Despite forecasts of gloom and doom, broker innovations have kept the future bright
Layne Sapp, Founder and CEO, MILA Inc.

Inc. Magazine
2005 Entrepreneur of the Year
Layne Sapp

Local Lending Company Soars
After Flying Under the Radar
Seattle Times Oct 2004

When MILA first started out here locally, they ONLY worked the hard money side of the business.  When subprime loan originations skyrocketed, so did MILA’s growth.  When the subprime market started to fold this spring, MILA ceased doing subprime loans and instead focused only on the Alt-A and Prime mortgage market. However, there is now tremendous competition for Alt-A and Prime loans.

I question whether or not the company had any duties to notify employees and the general public that they were running out of cash. On the one hand, the company owes duties to its shareholders and any potential buyer NOT to speak too soon about problems that may have a negative effect on the value of the company, especially if cash problems appear to be temporary. On the other hand, what about duties of good faith owed to the general public or to its employees? 

Your thoughts?

169 thoughts on “MILA shuts down

  1. Hi EconE,

    His site is so well known now that people are probably sending him an email as soon as something breaks. Not quite F**ked Company for the mortgage side, but an interesting daily read.

    What’s distressing is the growing number of laid off mortgage workers. Where will the lower-level employees find re-employment?

    I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of a lower-level employee at a subprime wholesale lender or a retail lender engaging in mostly subprime and I think if I were in their shoes, I’d be trying like hell to find another job.

  2. Somehow I managed to never work with MILA. Our Homecomings rep was in this week…and that is an Alt-A/Subprime company that I will work with since they are dependable and do “common sense” loans. He affirmed that 660 is the min. for zero down loans at Homecomings (a GMAC company) and that reserves (borrowers having somes savings in the bank after closing) will be required on more (not all) loans. When I see the subprime/alt a reps that I work with, I am surveying them on “how low they will go” for current loans.

    The market will continue to be very interesting and full of changing guidelines (unless the client has 700 scores and 20% down with a 30 year fixed rate). It really makes a Mortgage Professional have to be extra sharp to keep up with all of these changes. 🙂

  3. In the late 1980s when banks started to merge, I shifted from a job as a retail mortgage loan underwriter to a job in that same company’s foreclosure division, which was a longer commute, but I was reimbursed for travel expenses. This was a fascinating job; you can learn a lot about human nature when working in a foreclosure department of a national mortgage lender.

    A quick search on (if you want to do a search, make sure to click “no thank you.” You don’t have to go into their dbase in order to surf their site) shows plenty of job openings in foreclosures, but not many in WA state because most of the servicing centers are all in other states.

    EconE, today was the first time I went deeper into ML-implode and read through some of the discussion forums. There’s a message on there from a guy who said none of the recruiters will touch anyone who came from a subprime company. That sounds rather harsh. What do you think?

  4. Hi Rhonda,

    Happy Saturday Night. I have four 13-year old’s jumping on the trampoline in my backyard tonight, what do you have going on?

    Q: Looking for a barometer: For first-time homebuyers with a credit score over 700, can they still buy with zero down, no cash reserves?

    I was just talking to someone on Friday who fit that profile.

  5. Jillayne, I’m feeling like a very lucky Mom…my husband took his 13 y.o. son to a baseball tourney and my 14 y.o. son opted to go with (must be a girl there…) and his 15 y.o. daughter is at the movie’s w/girl friends… ahhh… the house is all mine…and what am I doing???
    It’s very exciting so I hope you’re sitting down…I’m backing up my laptop to a portable disk drive we just got at Costco (I believe this was from a recommendation from one of Ardell’s posts). What a life!
    My lap top is starting to give me some major warning signs so it’s time to take action….

    700 score, zero down and no reserves…is probably a fine loan (assuming job stability and decent debt to income ratio). I did a post on Mortgage Porter comparing the strength of borrowers scenario to legs of a chair. If we’re missing or shy on one leg (reserves) we should still be okay. And, if your friend has a 401k or some sort of retirement account, that can be considered “reserves” even though you hope they never need to pull it out for a mortgage payment.

    Tonight is a nice evening for bouncing around the backyard! With the 15 y.o. daughter out w/friends…if she doesn’t wind up staying over w/one of her girlfriends…they’ll all wind up here!

  6. Jillayne…let’s touch on a couple different subjects.

    You first showed your concern regarding the employees that lost their job. I can understand and I too do not like news like this. The question that you pose regarding where the low level employees will find work is the 64 Trillion dollar question.

    Had you asked me 19 years ago when I was first studying international trade and development it would have been easy to say where an entry level employee could work…jobs were plentiful. I would also have told them to learn a trade…as in working with your hands. Nobody should be afraid of work nor look down on tradework. I’ve done plenty of it myself throughout life.

    Now…with globalization…more and more of these “entry level” jobs are easily outsourced for a fraction of the cost of doing them here. Hence…the proliferation of what has been referred to as “McJobs”. We have become a service economy and now with technology even that can be outsourced. I’m sure that you heard about Circuit City laying off 3000+ workers only to let them re-apply for their jobs at lower wages. Of course…to the general public that reads about this there is a “twinge” that we all feel as we know that those could be our friends neighbors family etc. I look even further than that. I start asking myself things like…”when will those jobs become irrelevant and replaced by technology”.

    Efficiency is a double edged sword IMO. Think about all the things that make life more “efficient”…like Rhondas laptop. And then think about how much more complicated our lives have become over the last 15 years due to all these new objects intended to create “efficiency”.

    Anyhow…if someone were to ask me what career they should pursue today…I would recommend being a plumber. I say this in all seriousness. For “entry level” professional jobs…I don’t know. Maybe something in India or SE Asia?

    As to why the recruiters wont touch someone from a subprime company…I guess you’ll have to ask the specific recruiter as I can’t pretend to speak for them. I can however say that I myself feel that many of the loans were based on flawed mathematical principals that should have been obvious to most people but I understand that many people never get the opportunity to receive a quality education. I know this from experience as I worked as a substitute teacher in MO for a couple years and was afforded a glimpse inside our educational system and also into the lives of people in different socioeconomic classes that most people never get to see.

  7. EconE,

    I also use to work for a large, national (well, international) title company. First their production jobs were shifted from Everett to Tacoma. Then each county around the state shifted production from their local hub city to Tacoma. Then production was shifted overseas to Mexico, the Philippines, and India. Finally, all the remaining Tacoma jobs were sent to California. The lower-level workers went on to other local jobs, at the entry or mid level. Some sold their services back to the company as an independent contractor. They charged a higher hourly rate and did all kinds of different types of jobs in a more efficient way because they already knew the company’s system.

    By the way, I have a leaky faucet and I also have a toilet tank flusher thingy that needs to be fixed, but I hate having to schedule a plumber because I’ll need to set aside a wide block of time that I do not have. A plumber who arrives at the appointed time would be a VERY efficient use of my time: I would pay MORE for this service.

  8. Jillayne, an inhouse customer service rep for New Century Mortgage was recently hired to be a title rep…. A few weeks ago at Nordstrom when I was buying something at the Mac counter…I overheard two employees discussing underwriting and other mortgage talk…turns out they are former New Century employees too.

    Shoot, I wound up in title insurance (which led me to mortgage) from a job placement company, Business Careers.
    I would think that if the individual interviews well and has a good job performance, the subprime stigma shouldn’t hurt them (if they don’t let it).

    If someone does have a tough time landing a job, I would recommend utilizing a company such as Business Careers, Volt or Apple One. They may have to “temp” it for a while…the employment industry has not only changed with outsourcing, but also by temp agencies. They entry level job I had to “get in” to title insurance no longer uses a “full time” employee…it’s temp (if it’s not outsourced).

  9. I’ll chime in on the hiring of subprime workers:

    I don’t think anyone who is a quality person, who did quality work should be turned down from anywhere. I would hire a great subprime processor or underwriter in a heart beat; just as I would hire a great hard money underwriter. I don’t think the previous employer is the problem.

    We posted a listing for a processor a few weeks back and in 7 days I had over 300 resumes on my desk for one position. I ended up with over 500. There were underwriters, jr. processors, sr. processors, loan officers wanting to get in to processing (and our job posting was thorough mind you), etc. We were overwhelmed.

    The operations jobs just aren’t there right now. When times get tough people cut overhead – they don’t cut sales. I know account reps from New Century and Fremont who were gobbled up in minutes. I also know New Century ops people with amazing resumes that can’t find a job for half of what they were making.

    So I would hire a person from subprime absolutely. In fact, I would probably hire a subprime operations person ahead of a prime operations person. Prime has a very “order taker” mentality and the people that tend to work in it tend to share that sentiment. I would rather have a subprime person who understands a wide range of product guidelines than someone who is only used to looking at square pegs in square holes. For the record my company does about 65% prime and 35% subprime production.

  10. Hi Morgan,

    500 applicants for a single processing job; That blows me away. How the heck did you sort through them all to pick the top candidates to interview?

    I remember the layoffs in the early 1990s. I was in production. I remember thinking; I’m going to shift from production to sales because management always sides with the salespeople when there’s a conflict and salespeople rarely get laid off.

    If I was interviewing today, one of the reasons I might prioritize a prime job candidate over a subprime candidate is because often (not always) the folks who work for a bank will have received ongoing formal training in mortgage lending fundamentals. Products come and go and can be easily learned. A foundational understanding of RESPA and Truth-in-Lending, ECOA, state laws governing mortgage lending, and so forth, are more valuable to me as a business owner.

    If I were interviewing a subprime candidate, I would ask the question “what did you learn from working in subprime?”

    There could be hundreds of different ways to answer that question.

  11. Re MILA:

    “They kept telling us it was a computer glitch.” (I presume referencing the loans that were in line to close but didn’t fund).

    This is exactly what our escrow office heard from two or three lenders when we were trying to close transactions weeks ago, including New Century.

    Just last night, I was at a family function and there was a loan officer there who said, “MILA was too big to close.”

  12. Hi Tim,

    Thanks; Now we know one of the possible warning signs (computer glitch).

    Are there any other wholesale lenders who are currently experiencing computer glitches? I’m sure the employees would prefer more than a 15 minute warning.

  13. Lynlee’s chiming in here (in my ear) that escrow companies that were ready to close with any of MILA’s loans are probably furious if MILA released escrow to record a transaction (which is what happened to us with another case) and then didn’t fund the loan.

  14. Hi Jillayne,

    I agree – it was a monumentous task. We sorted by a few ways. First we went back and asked everyone for salary requirements. We took everyone who was in our range or +/- 10K. We then had 3 people scan all of the resumes; myself, my business partner and our VP of Operations. We all came up with our A, B and C lists. We then conducted phone interviews and then scheduled personal interviews. It was a long process. There were so many good people that we met and talked to.

    I agree that many people that work in subprime got thrown in to their role as processor or other and didn’t really have the proper fundamental understanding of prime mortgage underwriting principles, etc. I guess I would revise my answer to say that while we would never not choose someone just for working at a subprime shop we would definitely want to understand their grasp of sound loan making principles.


  15. Hi Morgan,

    and I DO understand the picture you paint of the “order taker” mentality that comes from working in an environment where the ability to work this way is/was valued and rewarded.

    So did you go with a candidate from subprime or prime?

  16. We went with two! One from Alt-A and one from prime 🙂 One is now our VP of Ops and the other didn’t work out after a 90-day introductory period.

  17. Morgan said…

    “We then had 3 people scan all of the resumes; myself, my business partner and our VP of Operations”

    and then he said…

    “We went with two! One from Alt-A and one from prime 🙂 One is now our VP of Ops”

    so…what happened to the VP of Ops that scanned all the resumes?

    Why on earth would a VP be doing clerical work (scanning resumes) in the first place?

    So…two people hired…one didn’t work out…one fills a position that “seemed” to be already filled.


  18. Where to start, well I was affected by MILA’s closing as I am an Account Executive in Illinois and have been with MILA for over 4 years now. The company was going to be bought out by a foreign investor, that decided at the last minute to pull out since the whole mortgage industry in the United States is “lower” than normal. What people need to realize is this all has to do with Wall Street. Sub prime loans are still very profitbale now even more if your one of those ass***** from Wall Street. They made all these companies buyback loans for first payment defaults……this has been going on for years now all of the sudden Wall Street wants to enforce buybacks… your eyes they bought some big subprime lenders like First Franklin, Encore, and Saxon to name a few. Think about it now they do not have to pay a middle man like MILA for the loan instead they can make more money. The government should be eyeing Wall Street and their practices they are the ones to blame for this implode!!!!!


  19. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for stopping by RCG and sharing your experience. I feel empathy for all the folks nationwide who are losing their jobs with little or in some cases no advance warning (unless you call 15 minutes advance warning.)

    I believe focusing in only on one segment of the subprime problem is not going to help the industry move forward. There are a wide number of factors contributing to the subprime lender shutdowns that we are now experiencing.

    Yes, Wall Street investors made good money. So did the subprime lenders, the account execs, the smalller mortgage companies who brokered the loans, and all the retail mortgage salespeople. But let’s not stop there, title, escrow, appraisal, and credit companies also raked in the profits. Let’s continue. Real estate agents, home inspectors, home builders, and so forth, plus any of us who had money invested in mortgage backed securities also made money.

    Now it’s time for a market correction.

    I hope, as you very aptly point out, that moving forward in time, the industry also looks at the Wall Street side of the picture as well as what’s currently being examined in DC, namely predatory lending legislation.

    My question for anyone interested in joining the dialogue is as follows:

    Do you as an individual (or institutional investor) want to know if mortgage loans that you invest in, were originated using predatory lending tactics? If we can somehow get the people on the money-making side connect the money they’re making back down to the homebuyer or refinancing homeowner who ended up with a mortgage loan from hell, I think we’ll be on a good path.

    If nobody cares, then we’re left with a socio-cultural problem that cannot be solved by bloggers in this lifetime. (Reminds me of a Green Day song, “I Don’t Care.”) I have blogged about this extensively. Click on my picture and scroll down to part one of the subprime meltdown series of blog articles. It’s called “Winds of Change.”

    I believe there are enough people who care.

    I hope you stop back again and tell us how you’re doing and how the job search is going. I wish you well.

    I know a mortgage business owner in Chicago named Jim Campanella. Drop my name if he’s hiring.

  20. I WAS a MILA employee and was laid off on the 2nd of 3 lay offs.It was the best thing that could ever happen to me. The third set of lay offs was when they closed their doors on Friday. When our group was laid off in October I found a job 3 days later. I did not have a hard time at all finding a job, and people in the industry knew at that time MILA was a sinking ship. Jillayne Schlicke – Why wouldn’t someone who has been laid off be hired by another company? I am a quality worker and actually had 3 companies trying to have me work for them. Someone also mentioned that the people at MILA were low level employees, which I beg to differ. I have 2 degrees and have been working in the mortgage industry for more then 8 years. I was on the operations side of MILA and by no way a low level employee.

    MILA was a terrible company to work for, I still wonder why I stayed as long as I did. It was obvious things were looking bad for the company when you would sit at your desk surfing the net all day because there were no loans. They treated their employees like dirt and believe it or not Layne the owner of the company informed his employees that the doors were closing via email from the comfort of his own home. All the executives were also MIA on Friday. I wonder what he has done with his 24million dollar yacht? NO severance packages were offered to group #1 or #3 and MILA was in the process of being sued as they did not follow proper lay off requirements when they laid off more then approx 1/4 of the company in Feb 06. MILA was also hit hard with the amount of loans the investors were requiring to be repurchased because of default and when I left MILA in October they lost a lot of ties with their investors because they refused to repurchase them (Meryl Lynch is a prime example). The loans they were selling on the secondary market were being sold at a loss because they were not underwritten to proper guidelines and were failing MAJOR compliance tests. MILA lived by the phrase “lets push that loan through get it funded” which is they could get a full loan submission funded within 4 hours.

    I feel bad for the people who lost their jobs and wish them luck finding something new with the way the market is now. I am GLAD this did happen to Layne he had it coming to him and did not know how to run a company and got a little too excited by buying the CRS building to move some of the staff when the main building was not full and it wasn’t even busy enough to have 2 buildings.

  21. Hi Missy Mo,

    When I referred to “lower level employees” in comment number 2, I meant people in the entry level jobs and front line workers. I was trying to differentiate this from management. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, and I hope that clarifies the meaning of my words.

    “Jillayne Schlicke – Why wouldn’t someone who has been laid off be hired by another company?”

    Actually, I didn’t say this. I read it on another blog. That writer indicated that a headhunter told him that resumes coming in from candidates who had previously been with a subprime lender were being screened out.

    My question to the general readership here, restated from comment #9 is:

    Would you hire a laid-off subprime worker?

    If yes, why?
    If no, why not?

    I would want to know what a job candidate learned from their experience working in subprime.

    Missy, it sounds like you’ve learned alot! I hope you are happy and successful in your new job; thanks for visiting RCG to share your experience.

  22. I wonder if MILA will be asking mortgage brokers to repurchase the loans brokered TO them that defaulted early. I guess it all depends on what’s in the contract between wholesale lender and broker.

    Mortgage brokers: check your lender contracts on buyback agreements!

  23. Actually Jillayne MILA is one of the few lenders that never made our customers buyback a loan….As Far as Missys comments, Layne was a great owner to work for and her comments are obviously fueled by her getting laid off, maybe Missy if you worked instead of surfed the net you wouldn’t have been laid off. Don’t be crzy to think if you made the money Layne did during the last several years you wouldn’t by a boat. As far as severance packages go, how many people get those no matter what field they are… obviously were never on the “right” side with MILA.

  24. Hi Alex,

    It will be interesting to see if this is still the case when all is said and done. If MILA has to buy them back, then if there is a buyback provision in the lender-broker contract, how can MILA NOT move towards enforcing the buyback provision?

    Alex, on RCG, we attack issues and not people.

    I can remember sitting at my desk in the underwriting department and looking around at my fellow underwriters. One was playing solitare with a real deck of cards (this was B4 we were all using computers at our desks) another underwriter was chain smoking, another one was doing her holiday greeting cards…..we KNEW that layoffs were imminent and we were all speculating who would be next.

    We were all hard-working; slow downs on the operations/production side can happen at any time in any mortgage company.

    It doesn’t matter what side of the business people were on with MILA, right, wrong, or somewhere in between. When only a few people are laid off, yes those layoffs can be political. When the masses are laid off due to a sudden closure, everyone ends up with the short end of the stick, no matter how they played office politics.

    Alex, I agree with you that corporate CEOs can and do purchase yachts for many reasons, including tax reasons as well as for fun.

    I predict right here and now that Layne Sapp will definitely make a comeback.

  25. Hi Alex,

    Yes, I visited Schamburg for the NAPMW (Nat’l Assoc of Prof Mortgage Women) convention several years ago. What fun town. I had not ever been to the Windy City. At that convention, the presidents from Region One shaved my head in a bet I made with them; I was on the Nat’l Board and those who made their membership goals had the opp to shave my head. It was a very cool way to remember Chicago.

    Alex, what do you think of the proposed national predatory lending laws that congress is talking about enacting?

  26. I actually did get a severance package MILA learned from their mistakes. There is a WA law that requires companies to pay a severance package when a certain % of their employees have been laid off.
    Ha, I am glad I was laid off. Layne, well lets see where can I start.. I have many personal and business stories that I could share that would not paint a nice picture. Alex, were you a BDM/inside sales? I assume so, because he thought the sales people were gold and did speak well of them. I really doubt you worked closely with Layne and interacted with him on a daily basis as my department did.
    For the record, I am not bitter I am making 3 times the salary as I did with MILA. I will admit that their salaries were competitive and they did treat their employees well in that aspect, but I don’t think I will go beyond that. Like I mentioned before I don’t know why I stayed as long as I did, perhaps naive? I honestly thought that American companies treated their employees this way. I am from the UK and never worked for a company that was like this. I now know that there are decent employers out there!

    No doubt Layne should have purchased the yacht and that was great for him to be able to afford it I would have if my company was funding over a billion dollars a year. I should have elaborated a bit, I was curious to know about his nice yacht and if he still had that.. one would think if you were trying hard to save your company a large item like this might help!?! Am I wrong to think that?

  27. “It doesn’t matter what side of the business people were on with MILA, right, wrong, or somewhere in between. When only a few people are laid off, yes those layoffs can be political. When the masses are laid off due to a sudden closure, everyone ends up with the short end of the stick, no matter how they played office politics.”

    The first lay off were based on dead weight and high salaries, and based on the room that contained the 2nd set of lay offs I really think they were high salary workers as well. I am not saying this because I was also one of the ones in the room either! There were some top names in that room and many many highly respected people who were let go.

  28. When the cuts are deep, this is often a sign to the remaining people to start polishing their resumes just in case.

    I wonder then, if I should be so bold in asking if 15 minutes was or wasn’t enough notice.

    The remaining folks…..had lots of notice to some extent.

    Missy, your insights are interesting in that now I understand why employers lay people off in small batches.

  29. Some questions remain:

    1) The big one: Why were buybacks necessary?
    2) Was there mismanagement? Did management ever anticipate a slowdown? If so, was the exit strategy to essentially layoff every last staff member because cash on hand was nill.
    3) Was the local market or national market a contributor to the demise?
    4) Did MILA have a heavy local origination presence or was it largely outside of Washington?

    5) If seasoned companies like Golf Savings and Pacific Crest sold out last year, didn’t that show that these seasoned players anticipated local/regional slowdowns? Was anyone, anyone, paying attention to these local players?

  30. “I wonder then, if I should be so bold in asking if 15 minutes was or wasn’t enough notice”

    They were generous with 15minutes!! The second layoffs you came to work, they escorted to the boardroom, they had “sessions” depending on when your start time was. Needless to say if you worked the late shift they already heard the rumours and were prepared.. HR gave a speech and then your box of your personal belongings were there waiting for you. The first time, everyone was told to go next door to the hotel for a meeting via email. They were told NOT TO go to work the next day and go straight to the hotel. Some people went to work because they started 6am, 7am and they were turned away at the door and were told to go to the hotel at that same time management was busy packing up boxes and everyone’s belongings were shipping out via UPS or you could come pick it up. Layne was involved with the first layoff but took a back seat on the 2nd and 3rd.

    I know there probably isn’t an easy way to do this, and people will pick it apart any way you try to lay off people! I know other people in the industry who were given notice of the lay offs.. so they were prepared!

  31. 1) The big one: Why were buybacks necessary?

    The borrowers were not making their mortgage payments. Big surprise when you lend money to someone who has a mid score in the 500’s and have had many BKs in the past!

  32. Off topic.

    24M Yacht?

    Lay down the hard figures for me. CEO salary vs. Avg Worker Salary

    5 year historical period would be great.


    Just want to get an idea as executive pay has been a hot topic for a long time.

    Not so concerned with the how/why/when/where that people were laid off…I wouldn’t expect much more in our society these days.

    I’m sure that the Execs of most…if not all of the defunct lenders who laid off the workforces are *quite* comfortable right now…unless of course they are being investigated.

  33. Hi EconE,

    I found some interesting data.

    The following report says MILA’s 2005 earnings were 126 million. It had to have been higher in 2006.

    Here’s the 2006 SEC filing:

    Well THIS is interesting. From the Consumer Protection Laws section.

    “In addition to the Homeownership Act, a number of legislative proposals have been introduced at the federal, state and local level that are designed to discourage predatory lending practices. Some states have enacted, or may enact, laws or regulations that prohibit inclusion of some provisions in mortgage loans that have interest rates or origination costs in excess of prescribed levels, and require that borrowers be given certain disclosures prior to the consummation of the mortgage loans. In some cases, state or local law may impose requirements and restrictions greater than those in the Homeownership Act. An originators’ failure to comply with these laws could subject the trust (and other assignees of the mortgage loans) to monetary penalties and could result in the borrowers rescinding the mortgage loans against either the trust or
    subsequent holders of the mortgage loans.”

  34. I know this is a bit OT, but I’m still interested in Morgan’s answers to the questions EconE posed in comment #21…!!

    On another note I worked with MILA for 2-3 years at the product level when the programs were expanding at an insane pace. The company I worked for did their closing documents for TX. Like other Lenders, MILA came out with very aggressive and IMHO risky mortgage products. The way they pushed their Hybrid Payment Option ARM you would have thought it was the best program out there! In reality, those programs are extremely dangerous! I wish negative amortization didn’t exist, because in the land of flattening values, I would oh-so-love to owe more on my note than my home is worth.. NOT!

  35. Hi Brian,

    I guessed at the answers but will hunt Morgan down for us to come on back and join the blog party here.

    Since hindsight is 2020, what did you learn from working at/for a subprime company?

    Thanks for visiting RCG and I’m looking forward to learning something from your insights.

  36. How does a potential employer track down these folks who were let go? Normally with the small layoffs the HR dept is happy to assist those laid off, but when 300 go in a swoop how do the former employees even get the word out that they are available and how do employers find them when the company is gone.

  37. Hi Barbara,

    I know that New Century held a job fair at their facility for a couple of days after they shut down. NCen invited all the big boys like Countrywide, Wells, WaMu, IndyMac. I here there were a lot of lookers but the companies were mostly looking for sales positions.

  38. Hi Barbara,

    It’s mostly word of mouth. Post what you’re looking for and in what cities and maybe our former MILA employees who are visting this blog will be able to contact you directly.

  39. Hi Rhonda, I just sent an email to the Exec Director over at NAPMW (Nat’l Assoc of Professional Mortgage Women). They do have a job bank where employers can post ads.

    Here’s a website that’s been around for awhile. it encompasses more than just lending, they also advertise for title and escrow jobs on their partner site.

    Although I would ignore listings from a company called To me it looks like they have posted a huge number of job openings, 100% commission of course, only to try and snare people into becoming property flippers.

    The Mortgage Board is tied to this site:

  40. I am a former MILA underwriter. I agree 100% with Missy. Alex, you & I worked together & we met a few times. I also know that Layne did treat the BDM’s well & I think that since you were not in Mountlake Terrace you really cannot grasp how the employees there were treated. Being called into a meeting & having your desk packed up while you were in there. They treated people that were getting laid off like common criminals. I watched it happen over & over. People that had been there 7 years plus.
    I was laid off in Oct, same situation as Missy- I quickly found a job & am making over $1500 more & it is STABLE.

    Layne Sapp is a snake. He is getting exactly what he deserves. He is irresponsible & has left numerous employees & customers in the lurch. I hope that man is never allowed to come near a mortgage again. But with all his $ I am left to bet that he will go back to how he started “hard money lending from his garage”.

    The thing is that since he put the company in BK, he will keep his yacht, the million dollar house. Mark & Sara will keep the his & hers Range Rovers that they got for Christmas (about a month before 40 ppl were laid off).

    Karma is a b*tch. I can only hope that they get theirs. Every since person that was forced out of MILA on Friday is better off, including you Alex, you just cannot see it. BTW, did you hear that Jeanette Cline passed away Friday night. Drunk driving the night of the layoffs, Hmm. Hope Layne is sleeping well at night.

  41. Good Morning FormerMilaUnderwriter,

    I am sorry to hear of Jeanette’s death after the MILA layoffs; what a tragedy for her family and all those that knew her. Although I did not know her, it sounds like she was a very helpful MILA employee.

    There is a lot of unresolved sadness and anger surrounding the sudden closure. Comments are being directed at Layne. I do not know Layne.

    What I do know, is that anytime there is a large and unanticipated layoff, there is always going to be a fair amount of emotion that comes with the experience.

    Research has been done in this area.

    The psychological impacts are similar to experiencing a trauma. Workers and Americans in general (I am admittingly stereotyping Americans) are known to place a good amount of self-identity within their job role. “What do you do for a living?” is a common phrase we all hear when meeting someone for the first time.

    When a part of who we are is suddenly gone, the impacts can be grave. Workers feel:

    Because of the loyalty they gave the company day in and day out.

    Because of the hard work and stress they endured, and the loss of any rewards promised or hoped for in exchange for their hard work.

    Because they are mad at themselves for not seeing it coming, not planning, not networking (like they had always wanted to).

    Because of the sudden loss of a good income and all the stress and pain that comes with re-adjusting.

    Because they feel like they were treated as an object, a THING at the end. De-personified; disposable. The worker gets a glimpse of a horrific reality in that all along, they always had been an object inside a corporate machine. This is too much to bear and it results in a huge amount of anger that MUST be projected outward and onto something else.

    So some folks lash out at the CEO or upper management. Surely I have been guilty of reacting this way myself in the past.

    That is why it is important for companies to handle layoffs ethically to help ensure the emotional, psychological, physiological and personal well-being of employees. Research shows that workers want to be treated with dignity and respect.

    Most prefer to know WAY in advance of the layoff, in order to give them time to cope with the change.

    Anyone who wishes to read more about this can do a google search on the keywords

    FormerMilaUnderwriter, Thank you for visiting RCG this morning and posting a comment. I wish you well.

  42. Jillayne Schlicke, thank you for your analysis. It is pretty right on, but I also want to point out while my posting admittely is prabably about 50% pissed off rant, there is truth there. I DO know Layne. I was not laid off recently & I am much better off for it.

    There is a right way & a wrong way to live your life. There were many of the higher ups at MILA that went about things the wrong way & I wholeheartedly beleive that this is why MILA did not survive.

    I appreciate you cutting & pasting all that, but I know these people & I also know what day to day life was like at MILA for the last 3 years. I also have been in the industry over 6 years & know that things shouldn’t have been the way that they were.

    I wish good luck to everyone that got laid off.

  43. Cutting and pasting what? I am a psych graduate major.
    I’m working at the intersection of three areas: moral psychology, philosophy, and business ethics, and I’ve been in the mortgage and real estate industry for over 20 years.

    Right and wrong, should and shouldn’t are subjective.

    Everyone has to follow the law, but beyond that you’re talking the language of ethics.

    A corporation has one purpose: to make a profit within the bounds of the law. We’re not just talking about MILA now, this is capitalism. As long as MILA decision makers followed the law, “right and wrong,” “should and shouldn’t” are just subjective opinions.

    It sounds like you experiened a corporate culture that did not match your own sense of morality.

    I have had experiences like that too, and I was in a position to quit my job. Not every worker is able to just up and quit. I’ve blogged about this extensively here:

    and here:

    I am hopeful that the subprime problems will have a positive impact on the mortgage lending industry. I am hopeful that the industry will chose to move away from the “all profit, all the time, at any cost” mentality and move towards elevating standards of practice, including ethics.

  44. “I appreciate you cutting & pasting all that”
    You write well. I wasn’t being rude, I thought you might have gotten it from an article.

    I would love to elaborate, but I am at work & I am actually busy (underwriting again) so I don’t have the energy or time to type out all of what I am trying to say.

    You didn’t spend 3 years at MILA. You can offer your thoughts on what people are going through, but I guess that the point that I am trying to get across is that there was a lot more going on with the fall of MILA that what is happening in the subprime market.

  45. Hi FormerMilaUnderwriter,

    Yes, you are absolutely correct. I didn’t live through the same experiences you all lived through.

    I read a lot of assigned textbooks but our professors also assign plenty of academic journal articles, non-fiction, and general literature. I subscribe to a publication called Ethix which is published here locally and has some fantastic business interviews and insights. I also read internet articles! So much good stuff is available for free on the web that it’s worth a look for anyone wanting to learn more.

    I would like to encourage you to write at length about your experience at MILA. I care; I am interested in learning more about what happened and why, and I’m certain others are as well.

    I am sure a publisher would pick up your article. Inman news is an independent real estate publisher; their editor Jessica Swesey might be interested in an opinion piece.

    The Scotsman Guide is published here locally and is read nationwide by mortgage brokers. Ivanna Sukkar is my contact there.

    If we can help the industry LEARN from what happened, it is worth our time.

    You are welcome to comment here anytime!

  46. I have been thinking over the past few days on what Layne is going to do now. I know MILA shut their doors, but how about NEXT? This is their technology department that runs under another entity. One think MILA had going for them was their technology. As much as I do not like the company, they had NEXT/Accesspoint which was one of the best in the industry. I heard once that he had seperated this company years ago so he could eventually sell his software to other morgage companies. I wonder if the company went under with MILA? If not, I would bet this is his next business venture!

  47. The parent company of MILA is named “Washington Consumer Loan Company”

    Whether or not the software was parcelled out into a separate company remains to be seen. If you do a random business license search on the DOL wesite, you will see many, many business licenses issued to Layne Sapp. One is for a company called Next Online Mortgage Technologies.

    Interesting observation!

    Here’s the DOL link

  48. What can I say. What comes around goes around. Or at MILA we said, ‘It is what it is!” I was a BDM for nearly ten years at MILA.

    Right you were Layne treated his BDM’s right. Tide changed when Mark Hikel came aboard. He had no sense in how to treat people. Still doesn’t unfortunately. Mark Hikel is probably more responsible for the demise of MILA and their employees than the secondary market.

    Layne plans to adopt Jeanette’s youngest as she had been part of his family for nearly 5 years as his nanny. That is stepping up. For those who feel he should have, “blood on his hands,” or should not, “sleep well.” That is absurd. This company was his baby and I am sure he is traumatized as well. Mark and Sarah had less to lose.

    Working there for so long I can say that they were never great at handling terminations or setbacks in the industry. They fired long-term Regional Managers without just cause or notice. That put a sour taste in many.

    They had a great thing going until they put the blinders on and blamed sales for their woes. Mark was not a tactful motivating kind of guy. His style was less than desirable and no Area Manager or Regional liked him or respected Mark. He just did not know how to deal with people.

    This is the fourth company that has tanked under his expert leadership and talent. He is 4 for 4. That is a 100% and the other three were not in tough times. He will leave WA and go back East where he thinks no one will remember MILA or one of the states they did not lend in.

    Layne wanted to be more involved in Product and Secondary marketing and left Mark the Captain. Unfortunately Mr. Hikel sold Layne an awesome reporting micro managing spreadsheet. That Layne was impressed with.

    Layne had surrounded himself with liabiliies in terms of employees in the past. He bought them out or terminated long term relationships with them. Unfortunately, he should have terminated Hikel and MILA may still be around today and maybe Jeanette Cline as well.

    Layne will end up on his feet gain. But hopefully learned a valuable lesson in who he trusts in the future. Mark nobody will miss you or your attitude towards human beings. You are not a God in any stretch of the imaination. Maybe yours??? Alex you go boy!

    NEXT is separate but only had one customer, MILA. Should sell AccessPoint and make some coin!

  49. MILABDMnot
    Thanks for the post, and you are probably right. I was venting on Layne from the Admin side & what we saw, but everyone has their own perspective & I really appreciate you sharing yours!

    I pray for Jeanette’s family & heck even Layne (although I still standby that he is not fully innocent here). I hope that you all move on to bigger & better things. The tough part is that there were so many good, quality, talented people at MILA that really cared about the company & tried to pull together & make it work. I hope that employers out there know that they will be lucky if they are able to get some of these people.

  50. Hmm, where to begin? I was on the 4th (executive) floor at MILA on the day the company went under. I first want to set the record straight: Layne Sapp did not send the “we’re closing” email from his home; he was in the building, as were all executives. Layne called all executives and managers into the boardroom to make the announcement, then sent his email about 5 minutes later. Working on the 4th floor as I did, I was lucky enough to get the explanation directly from Sarah, rather than from an email, like the rest of the company. I feel truly sorry for the folks who worked on the 3rd floor and at the other building – to be told of the company’s demise via email before their managers could return from the boardroom to advise them in person.

    I agree completely with some of the earlier posts: MILA never did handle terminations well. The round of layoffs conducted at the hotel next door was one of the most unprofessional things I’ve ever seen, and in the case of the company closing, we had literally 15 minutes to pack up and leave. The IT system was shut down almost immediately after Layne’s email was sent, so many of us lost e-address books and other information that we were unable to forward to another address.
    And, yes, Layne did treat his salespeople very well (remember renting out the EMP for the Sales Conference in 2005?), especially compared to the operations staff, who were underpaid by industry standards (myself included, I am now learning).

    And, I also have to agree with MILABDMnot: Mark Hikel’s people and admin skills left something to be desired. MILA had a very specific, effective sales strategy, based on building relationships and helping a broker grow their business, rather than chasing the individual loan transaction. Unfortunately, Mark’s methods of implementing this strategy were blunt and inefficient – like watering your garden with a high-pressure firehose. It worked well when the market was booming, but when loan volume began to taper off, his approach failed to continue to be successful. In my 10 years in mortgage, I have never seen a CEO adapt to the market the way Layne Sapp did; he had a clarivoyant view of the way things were going. Mr. Hikel did not possess the same adaptablity. Is Mark totally to blame? No; neither is Layne completely to blame. They both did play a part in MILA’s demise, however.

    The most frustrating part of this has been touched on, but I’ll reiterate, for the sake of venting: no severance, or even payout of unused vacation hours, for those of us not fortunate enough to be the Sapps or the Hikels. Having built their fortunes ($24 mil yachts, his n’ her LandRovers, etc.), these folks will indeed land on their feet, and probably start new, prosperous business ventures in the near future. The rest of us? Well, we’re stuck on unemployment, having to restrict spending and put plans on hold, while we find something new in a shrinking mortgage market. My wife and I were planning to buy a house this summer, and those plans are now on hold indefinitely. I know of two MILA employees with weddings in the coming months; who knows what will happen to those plans? And, several MILA employees had spouses who were also MILA employees – imagine having both sources of income cut off with mortgage payments and grocery bills in the offing. Meanwhile, the executives will go on without too much of a bump in the road

    One last thing I’d like to mention: Jeanette’s death was a tragedy, but I won’t buy into the idea that it was directly caused by MILA’s closing. Jeanette wasn’t the only one of us who had too much to drink on Friday after the company closed, but she was the one who made the decision to drive. Again, my heart goes out to her family, but we should all remember that decision was hers, and not a direct result of MILA’s demise.

    Best of luck to everyone in their job search!

  51. MILABDMnot

    Thank you for visiting raincityguide and contributing your stories.

    Here are some questions I have. These are mostly just questions I would ask in classroom, using MILA as a business ethics case study. Everyone (all readers) feel free to answer

    1) Business owners need to hire managers to oversee labor and production. Business owners need to allow managers room to do their job without having the executives micro-managing every task. Managers need room to assert their own leadership style, they need to be held accountable for profit goals, and they need direction from the executives.

    What could the business owner in this case have done differently to tap into the undercurrent of negative emotion directed towards the manager, coming from the sales and production staff?

    2) How can business owners give adequate notice (say, 30, 60 or 90 days) that lower-level workers will be losing their jobs, without also de-motivating its workforce? Labor unions require this for their workers to some extent. Since there is no labor union in mortgage lending (that I’m aware of) would you guys all have been able to keep working hard if you had 30/60/90 days notice? I think managers reading this blog would appreciate hearing your comments.

    3) How can a business owner reap the reward$ that come along with being the one who took many risks in growing the business, in a way that is discreet and graceful? Any of us might spend our wealth in many ways if it was ours to spend. So if you are the business owner, what might you do differently? Perhaps there would be more discretion. However, that goes against American culture.

    4) Is it the responsibility of a corporation to assure that all employees who were laid off, are emotionally stable enough to send home after a massive round of layoffs? This brings to mind the event of Richard Plath’s suicide after his layoff from First American Title in Thurston County many years ago. The remaining employees were pretty traumatized, as was the surrounding real estate community, for many years following.

    If your answer is yes, how might a corporation go about doing that?

    If your answer is no, would a corporation assume any liability for events thereafter?

    My answer to question 4 would be a tentative yes, because I believe all employees deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. In the event of impending massive layoffs, counselors could be readily available. If management has knowledge of employees who will probably be taking the news especially hard, extra attention could be given to assure that person does NOT end up in a bar and then getting into a car. But that’s just my opinion. I’d like to hear yours, readers.

  52. Well I no sooner hit “post” than this crosses my desk:

    “Financially strapped subprime mortgage lender New Century Financial failed to receive any bids for its mortgage loan origination business, forcing it to shut down the unit and lay off around 2,000 employees, the company told employees Thursday.”

    They will lose their jobs tomorrow morning. They received 1 day’s notice.

  53. Jillayne,

    Lance here..

    What got me was the following:

    In court papers filed Tuesday evening, New Century sketched out a revised scheme for bankruptcy bonuses for 34 high-ranking executives, one that replaces a package of executive rewards that drew criticism from U.S. Trustee Kelly Beaudin Stapleton.

    Chief Executive Brad Morrice, who was in the original bonus plan, does not appear to be on the extra-pay list in the revised version. However, people named by Morrice or New Century’s board to policy-making positions are still in the company’s bankruptcy bonus pool. . . .

    New Century, which hasn’t yet revealed what it paid top executives in 2006, says it won’t reveal the names or bonuses for the policy-making leaders it wants to pay extra. Meola, Theologides and two other upper-echelon leaders were named in court papers

  54. I honestly believe that almost all executives were in the building with the exception of BC. He was not there. Additionally, I think Mark and Layne never thought they would have to close the doors at MFC. They did rely heavily and felt pretty positive that the merger was going to take place. After talking to many Area managers that were at MILA most are relieved that they no longer had to take the abuse from Hikel on his Monday morning conference calls. With his profane name calling and constant insults. Maybe one day he can be in the field and see what it is like.

    All companies have responsibilities. Layne was good at them when he ran the show. Again when Mark came on board his lack of profesionalism, decency with sales staff, and overall inability to listen to others was and will be his downfall in life.

    For all MILA employees I suggest that you call payroll and HR and get you money out of te 401K plan and get your 2007 w-2 asap or you may never get them.

    Layne had decency and did go to Jeanette’s memorial service. Unlike the Hikel’s who probably had a vacation scheduled or something more pressing than to mourn an employee that gave more tenure than both Hikel’s combined. What a shame but proves that Mark contniues to mismanage things!

  55. Regarding New Century:

    “Kathleen Allen, a regional operations manager who is being let go after 11 years with the lender, said she held out hope that part of the company could be salvaged until yesterday’s call. ‘It’s hard to understand how we were number two in the nation and now we are nothing,’ Allen said.

  56. Jillayne, regarding your four questions:
    1. (Also addressing comments from MILABDMNot and Tim): The easiest solution would be for the business owner to foster more open communication with him/herself. In MILA’s case, the buck often stopped at Mark Hikel, who, as president of the company, was head of the entire sales division. There was an unspoken “understanding” that Mark had Layne’s blessing to proceed as he saw fit. Anything relating to how the sales division was run went through Mark. And if anyone had an issue with Mark’s management style, it had better be a big enough issue, with documentation to support the issue, to take over Mark’s head to Layne. This is not to say that Layne was unapproachable, but he was rather aloof when dealing with the how the sales division was run. Unless you had a solid reason to challenge Mark’s management style, chances are he would side with Mark on the issue, making going to the top with your problems a risky proposition at best. Improved communication with the owner may have gone a long way to prevent this problem.

    2. If an employer gave notice of an impending layoff or closure, I believe the resulting decline in motivation and production is the price the employer pays for professional courtesy. If MILA had told me that they were closing in 30 days, I can tell you that while I wouldn’t exactly be giving 110% at the office every day, I would continue to do my job, to earn that 30 days worth of pay, while I began to prepare for unemployment. That 30 days would allow me to begin a job search and make any necessary changes to my current financial situation. And it would help me feel that the organization DID have some idea about how its actions affect those who have worked so hard to make the organization what was. That sense of caring is really what upsets me the most, and it slightly informs my answer to numbers 3 and 4:

    3. Discretion should definitely be exercised when a business owner spends his or her wealth. He or she is absolutely allowed to spend their wealth on anything they please; after all, they have earned it. However, common sense should be used here, because the morale and motivation of your workforce is at stake. I once worked for a company whose owner spent weekends at his $4million villa in Palm Springs (and used his private jet to get there). He would email photos of himself out on the golf course or sipping drinks on his deck to the entire company. Meanwhile, the company did not have a dental or vision plan, and had the most stripped-down, rudimentary health plan available. How do you think that made my coworkers and I feel about giving our all to the company? This is what I mean by using common sense. If you are laying off a large portion of your workforce, it might behoove you as a business owner to look at how your wealth is demonstrated to those around you at the time. When you pull up in your Bentley to announce a layoff to cut costs, it sends a mixed message to the remaining employees, beyond the usual fear that they will be next under the axe. It also makes them question their loyalty to, and motivation to work hard for, the company in question.

    Finally, #4. While I agree with Jillayne that employees deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, I’m honestly not sure how far an employer’s responsibility for laid-off employees extends. It is a very gray area. I think, Jillayne, that you make a great point about having counselors available for distraught employees; even a discharge package containing contact information for counselors or other assistance, in addition to unemployment insurance information and the like, would help. Again, it goes back to the question of how much the organization values the well-being of their employees. MILA simply cut off its employees without anything more than an FAQ document telling them when to expect their final paycheck and that Washington Mutual was hiring. Providing more helpful information, including counseling help and career direction, may go a long way to prevent self-destructive behavior from disgruntled former employees.

    MILABDMNot: you are correct, BC was not in the building at the time of the closure. In fact, many of us were concerned for him as no one had heard from him at all that day. Do you have any news?

  57. Back in the 80s when big Banks were taking over little Banks by the dozens, we tried various methods of assisting the “displaced and replaced”.

    We tried firing and giving the fired person use of their office and free support from a “headhunter” service and counseling during the paid “severence” time. But it was like “dead man walking”, and as grief turned to anger, it was not working at all. The morale of those around that office was terrible, and the production of EVERYONE went down while the fired person was still in the building.

    We tried giving everyone notice, but then the best people found jobs immediately and we didn’t have enough staff left to close down the department efficiently.

    We tried promising everyone jobs elsewhere in the company by freezing new hires and requiring that all jobs be filled from within. That wasn’t bad. Even if a whole branch was shut down or a whole department, most people were given jobs elsewhere, some left of their own volition and very few were outright fired.

    If an entire company folds, I don’t suspect there’s any good method to use.

    I have had friends found in dumpsters on the Turnpike, and show up to conduct meetings in their boxer shorts during some terribly handled downsizings. We read in the newpaper on Friday that the staff would be cut by 10% and they would fire people every Monday morning for two months until they had the 10% accomplished. Talk about Monday’s being a b-tch. When they found Peter’s body in a dumpster on the Turnpike, the Company took no responsibility. When Gary showed up to conduct a meeting a half hour late in his boxer shorts, the Company took no responsibility. Every “story” for the whole two months of downsizing was treated as “coincidence”.

    I’ve stayed away from this thread as it is very painful to recall these events, even though it was 20 years ago or more.

    My heart goes out to all who are now suffering, their family, their co-workers and their friends.

  58. Well according to Grapevine on Broker Universe BC had some personal issues which prevented him from being in the office. He is fine and obviously devastated by the closing of MILA as he did love his job and putting in around twenty-years of his life and coming out of it pennyless.

    Keep in mind that MILA was not the only revenue source for Layne. He was always an excellent stock speculator and made great money during the tech boom. Especially on and that is when he was in Palm Springs in the pre-jet days. His first Bentley came even when MILA was not doing that well. It was a used Bentley at that.

    Layne owns a tremendous number of properties and started land contracts when he was just a young man (in his twenties) So properties, investments and shrewd investments made MILA what it became. People forget when he used to personally fund payroll when the company was not doing that well in the mid 1990’s.

    So do you blame a guy for getting a Bentley, Yacht (which was a brilliant way to get an amazing tax writeoff that saved him millions of dollars and entertainedInvestors that used to buy MILA loans.

    The jet was just a time-share that he needed again for expenses as MILA was then doing in excess of 250-300 million a month after AccessPoint took off. Sure it cost like $250,000 a year but that was really nothing in the whole scheme of things when MILA was getting 104.7 on their loans.

    It’s easy to be a hater. Harder to look at the fact that LS worked his tail off. He used to say that he may not be the smartest man around, but nobody will out work him. He was a hard worker and was generous at the same time. Always giving to charity and to cetrain employees that had serious family crisis. Even Marty that was let go and is no longer friends will agree with this. Layne was a generous man.

    Unfortunately, how much can one man do. We know that HR screwed up one year and that is why everyone’s health insurance doubled. LS had to delegate and some of these responsibilities and they were not properly handled to say the least. Some of Layne’s errors in judgement included: Mark, Holly and our Branding Queen Short Skirted Tina. Ironically, you could not wear shorts to work, but Tina could wear her crotch high skirts. But she did create Layne’s image and he was satisfied with that. Although the picture at his desk wearing his 40K watch was a bit much. But it did help him attain Entrepeneur of the Year.

    It’s all water over the dam at this point. Poor Brian who never got his real payday. Plus rumor is that LS, the Hikel’s and BC are liable personally for some things still. So perhaps MH and LS will land on their feet and hopefully they will take care of BC for his quiet, unselfish loyalty and years of service.

  59. The close of MILA was unfortunate, I was in the first layoff, and I can tell you after nearly 5 yrs there the real fall down of the company was the lack of integrity of people like Mark and Sarah Hikel, not to exclude Holly Taylor. Mark was so self involved, and all Sarah could talk about was her cats,her sex life, and the jewelry buying sprees, sporting her 10carat diamond..the other downfall was hiring a young inexperienced recruiter, and then making her a manager. She lacked experience, morals and any inkling of compassion for friendships or co-workers. Holly slept her way through MILA, starting in sales, then to the facilities guy and finally latching into the CIO of MILA, she had fall out with girlfriends, and they ended up fired, her last 2 boyfriends, fired, she is the one who instilled the termination practice that became the norm at MILA, no wonder they got dinged with improer lay off practices, Holly was in charge! Layne did the best he could, he just neglected to surround himself with people of the same integrity he has. Layne will rebound, Sarah and Mark will be off to other things, and the people who respected him will return to support him again.

  60. I don’t think it is any secret that Mila was built on a great premise, but landed in the wrong hands of management once Layne delegated it to others he thought he could trust. I left with the last of them,and for the 7+ years I was there, the one I felt the most compassion for was Brian Carl. He worked hard and was the glue that put the company in a position to be built on. Layne listened to the Hikels whine about him, and evn let them talk him out of being at executive tables when awards were given out. B.C. was an owner of the company, along with the Hikels, but he was treated badly, and Layne allowed it.He didn’t mind using him to take his family to their vacation home though. A lot of things went wrong and alot of things went right. I got a job recently and my take away from it all is great knowledge of how things work well when management does well, and how to protect yourself professiojally when you know they are going sideways. Yes HollyTaylor was a good talker, but an ineffective HR Director, she was a rookie at best, but Sarah liked her and gave her a chance. I remember them pouring over a Tourgeon Raine catalog looking at rings she hoped the very youg CIO would buy her, it was like stopping in on a dorm room instead of a business office. It’s all over now, and the best will rise to the top once again. Layne will be fine, the Hikels will take their cats and move to another city and do the same things over again, and Holly will dream and hope Layne will hold on to her as long as she is with Luke. Who knows all this time may allow him to wise up on many levels. Let’s all move on, and concentrate on our own successes

  61. From a pretty reliable source. Layne is fine and closed MILA by choice as he was tired of injecting Tens of Millions of Dollars month after month on the warehouse lines. to reduce risk on what was to be sold. Rumor is that a purchaser in New York has looked at MILA to purchase their assets with Accesspoint for 15 or so Million. Nobody but Layne was injecting cash into MILA.

    He will re-establish himself as an entrepeneur as he is still respected in the Financial Community and will start something else in a few months. He is well connected afterall and has ability to raise money.. MILA is open with a small staff to wrap up loose ends.

    Hikels and LS may have had a falling out in the decision to shut the doors. As Hikel’s only invested about a million or so dollars for their share. Not really a surprise and one would believe that Layne has the forsight to know that MH was alot of the problem with Sales and Production.

    However they still have to agree on the dissolution of the MILA assets. As the Board of Directors must agree. Plus employees that received buyouts have not been being paid for quite sometime. So a BK may be eminent unless LS decided to pay them after assets are purchased by an investor like Bear or Credit Suisse.

    Time will tell and what does come around does go around. It’s Karma. MILA was a great place to work and had a great family like feel until Mark ran sales. It’s time that Mark works for someone and has to answer to someone greater than himself. One thing is for sure, Mark won’t be running any finance company for a long time. If he has any balls he should open his own company instead of riding coat-tails of others.

    It is time to live and let live. Not necessary to dwell on the past but appreciate the experience we all got at MILA and allowed us to get rehired at other lenders that still have a future, Nobody likes change. But I have to agree with Layne. It is truly opportunity day! (for all former MILA employees!)

  62. “But I have to agree with Layne. It is truly opportunity day! (for all former MILA employees!)”


  63. Ok, people from MILA…I hope you are all moving on with your lives. I worked there for a long while and left on my own terms long before it closed. My opinions…

    Layne Sapp is a great visionary. Like most business owners, he couldn’t stay on top forever in a changing market. His only fault was not getting out sooner as the company had many offers for purchase over the years. He kept on for various reasons including personal drive, pride, and loyalty to his employees. So what, he had alot of toys. He earned them, plus he employed hundred of people over the years. That’s alot more than most of us can say.

    Hikels. Good for them, they were a husband-wife team who helped MILA ride the wave a few years. MILA never had the level of conflict between Sales and Ops that most companies have becasue they worked together toward and common goal. Although, the down side was obviously a lack of checks and balances. Still, it provided for a better work environment. Yes, they were tough, but only on slackers and non-performers.

    Brian Carl. He’s a loyal guy and helped Layne out way back when. Every company has a legacy executive sitting in an office surfing the net….there’s nothing unusal about that. Who can blame him for staying until the end….it was a great run for him.

    My main criticism is toward the head of HR. I have never seen an HR director who had as much power and so few skills. This combined with a lack of professionalism was a deadly combination. It is very sad that no one received any information regarding grief or crisis counselling (even a phone number) upon their release. It was gross incompetence and neglect on the part of HR.

    Laid off employees. Quit complaining. Everyone in this business should know that mortgages are cyclical. There are waves and troughs; booms and busts. The key is to know when to move on and spot the signs of a company’s demise. I’ve been laid off when younger and learned to be independent. It’s just a job….pick yourself up and move on. The diversity of working at different places will only help you become more marketable and increase your skill sets. Remain positive and don’t get caught up in the moaning.

    Businesses fail all the time, it’s just part of Capitalism’s circle of life…my only beef is that it’s up to HR to ensure that the little social safety net mandated by the state is in place. This failure is what saddens me the most.

    I wish everyone the best.

  64. Hi PayOptionArmyofDarkness,

    Thanks for stopping by and for your best wishes to everyone.

    Former Mila Employees:

    How are you doing in your job search?

    Who has landed where?

    As the mortgage market continues to change, what’s different for you now as compared with MILA?

    Some folks have expressed their frustration and anger with some management behavior. Follow up question: At your new job, what did you do to make sure you were going to work for a company with a management team that held different values?

  65. PayOptionArmy of Darkness-
    You articulated it all very well,hitting on all points, especially all the power and lack of skills in the HR department. The Hikels,”good for them” is true, but Sarah as the COO played a huge part in how much power was excercised by HR, Holly Taylor reported to her, and she did not do a good job keeping her in check, and accredting her as a HR manager until 3 years after they hired her! The responsibilities lies with the executives to keep their reports in line with the mission statement of the company. I think HR/Holly Taylor took every day to be “opprotunity day” doing whatever she felt, to whomever she chose. Sarah Hikel allowed the terminations to take the direction they did, with no exit interviews, no check point for following state requirements for lay off procedures. Sarah was busy daydreaming in her office wishing she could be home with her cats, she was disengaged, and professionally unavailable to any of the people who reported to her on her best day. In my new position I asked all the right questions before I accepted this job. MILA had no vested interest in employee rention, and that showed a lack of respect for the people they hired and trained. Thanks for the clarifications, and you’re right we need to all move on and just get over it!

  66. Blame whoever you want, good leadership could have saved a lot of us our jobs. The market was obvious, they did not plan well, and Mark Hikel’s decison on products to sell caused the demise of it all. Ther was no decison made with out all of the executives buying off on it all. It was clearly at the hands of all the powers to be.How are we all dong? Well we too trusted the wrong people who held our jobs and futures in their hands…learning well is what we can brainer, we just don’t have yachts to sell. Who has landed where? What values do we hold in our next job? Isn’t it obvious? How are we doing? You tell me.

  67. mortgagegirl – your points are all very valid…HR certainly did not exist in isolation. Although, HR has a responsibility to functon independently when it comes to regulartory and legal issues pertaining to employment and layoffs. If the execs wanted to ignore legislation, HR should have pushed back. Ultimately, HR is as guilty if not more for any mistakes.

    othermilaman – the market forces involved in the collapse of Sub-Prime / Alt-A (whatever you want to call it) were far beyond the skills of any leadership, especially in a privately held company. The only reason large Sub-Prime shops are still around is that their losses are being offset by their even larger parent companies – think WaMu, Household, etc. The collapse of the US Sub-Prime market is being felt globally by the investment community. Actually, MILA reacted very nimbally to the market changes and probaly stayed in buisness up to a year longer than most companies of their size and structure. You should thank the Hikels and Layne for maintaining your paycheck as long as they did. The MARKET forces drove MILA’s closure. Similar to any company, charasmatic leaders such as Layne and the Hikels create a polarised response with their employees.

    I would recommend that you take your own future into hands and not look toward company leadership to control your destiny. You should be aware of the local and national market conditions at all times as well as any potential negative signs at the organisation where you work. Additionally, always keep your skillset sharp and current, this means for the rest of your career. Most importantly, keep your extended network alive. You never know who will provide a job lead. MILA may have held your job, but you held your career. Cradle to grave employement no longer exists. Good luck in your job search. I wish you all the best.

  68. There are some good articles in this month’s issue of ethix magazine. I think the publish an online version. Let me go check. Yes here it is, and a link to the article I just finished:

    Sherron Watkins talks about how there should have been independent meetings without management present, with the executive or board, where employees can talk frankly about operational issues without fear of retaliation.

    She also discusses CEO pay scale: By 2000, the average CEO pay was 531 times the average worker’s salary. She argues that the “board of directors” system in the US is not working and offers suggestions.

    She also talks about short term profit gains v. the long term interest of keeing a business alive. For example, short term profit gains are fine if you’re the person who can take those gains and start a new business, should the existing business fail.

    My biggest frustration with being a corporate employee was a perceived veil that surrounded and protected management. Only when I was able to pierce the veil and connect with an executive did I feel as though my ideas were respected.

    Going forward, how can employees seeking a job figure out which companies are OPEN to hearing feedback about management practices, and which companies just “say” they’re open but really are not?

    Perhaps there is no way of knowing until you’re in the game.

    In that case, PayOptionArmyofDarkness’ advice in comment #76 might prove dead-on accurate. It almost feels as if employees are going to war and it’s every man/woman for himself/herself.

    That could make or an interesting argument in favor of a labor union for mortgage lending workers.

  69. Hi othermilaman,

    “How are we doing? You tell me.”

    I think former Mila employees who were laid off long ago most likely had the best chance of finding work inside mortgage lending. The employees who were laid off suddenly, at the end of April, might still be feeling some anger, rage, fear, sadness, and disgust; very powerful emotions. It is very hard for some folks to process all this without a support network.

    Any former Mila employee is welcome to comment here on this blog about their experience. Sometimes just reading and writing about one’s experience can help a person transition into a new place. By that I mean an internal place inside themselves. Once the internal transition is made, finding employment becomes slightly easier.

    Up there in comment number 25, MissyMo says her layoff was the best thing that ever happened to her. Although MissyMo’s experience may not happen for everyone, it could be a beacon.

  70. payoptionof darkenss-
    You are so correct and very bright in your observavance. I have moved from the mortgage industry to another career in finance. I appreciate your words of wisdom HR & the excecutives played a role in all of MILA…My only hope is that the Holly Taylor’s and Sarah Hikels of the worlds do not run the business I am in. Thank God Sarah never had kids and great sorrow to the kids Holly had that she gave away to the empty world because they were 18 or to their dads because she had so many husbands at age 33, to be with Luke to gain more $$ the kids always suffer, we as adult can move on. Thanks for the reality check

  71. Many Sales reps have landed and Aurora, Wilmington and IndyMac. Some at Equifirst. Some have gotton out of the industry all together. I know some that went To Credit Suisse and Lime Financial for their 620 Stated 100% products.

    mortgagage girl,

    I had once said the same thing about the Hikel’s. God works in a mysterious way and that is why they have not had children. Too self-absorbed and do not have the ability to give and sacrifice that children need.

    I do not think the Hikel’s of the world will be running anyone’s company in the near future. Plus they would never invest in their own company ever again. They did have a small portion of MILA with a million or so investment. In the whole scheme that was nothing compared t o what LS dished out in recent months.

    Countrywide is still a strong company and is hiring! So is IndyMac but the learning curve is great.

    News about assets being sold should be out soon. Let’s see who picks it up!

  72. Wrong MILABDMnot.

    In fact, Mark Hikel is involved and will have ownership in the company that purchased MILA. This is true for those such as Michelle Steinmetzer, the part time temp receptionist who is now an AVP. They will all get some sort of ownership in the newly formed company that formerly known as MILA.

    With this said, I would NEVER return to that company or any company where they (Hikels or Steiny) existed. They are evil to the core and have not regard for their employers. Layne Sapp has more integrity and made one mistake, which was hiring both the Hikels.

    Nuff said. Sapp is a great man. He will endure through this and it would more than a pleasure to be involved in his next venture.

  73. By the way, this was not Brian Carl writing. Get over yourselves to think that BC would write something. He was too much of a coward to come out of his office and say anything. You can find him going to the office, without pay, to get away from the wicked witch of the west. I would be doing the same.

  74. Enough already BC was a great man to work for, I talked with him weekly and he kept me abreast of the things that were going on. I am sure things we will re-open in the future. As for now I just need to find a decent company to work for. As for Michelle I loved working for her she always was there to help me out.

  75. To the person who posted comments number 81 and 82, if you are not Brian Carl, then I recommend using another name or Anonymous to avoid confusion.

    Let us know more about the company who purchased MILA, if you are at liberty to say.

    These new June 5 comments make me wonder what it will be like for the former Mila managers to start over. I mean, if you put “MILA” or the name “Mark Hikel” into google, this blog comes up on the first page. Any new recruit might be wondering about the management and stumble across this blog.

    I can remember being an employee at a corporation many years ago when a new manager came on board. I combed the web trying to find out anything about this new manager and all I found were generic press releases and vanilla company website pages.

  76. Alex,

    I never said BC was not a good person. He was always good to me and treated me with repect.

    Working with AE’s like you was the worst ever. You whined daily as were the root cause of making deals go south. You loved Michelle as she was easily manipulated in thinking you were providing MILA with a good deal. She made part time temp reception decisions on loans that should not have even made it in the door. I don’t know how you sleep at night.

    Mark has good vision, but he does not know how to run a company or run a sales plan. He ruined the very core of MILA, and had his wife, the COO, ruin everything else in operation.

    Ok Alex, enough said. Good luck out there. I hope to never come accross a file you work on again. I am sure you would never ever be hired at the place I work at now. We only hire honest and competent people, and those that bring good deals to the table without manipulation of the system to give a false front.

  77. Ouch too bad your not posting your real name on here; acutally I made sure fraud did NOT come through. I scrubbed my files to be sure there was no false information. Next time your going to bash someone put your name out there. As far as stated income and assetts go well I can only control so much.

    Don’t be that ignorant my friend……feel free to let me know who you are and I am sure we can chat my direct email address is

  78. I worked for MILA for 2 years. I worked in the production side AND the sales side. I do have to say that you were treated substantially better in sales. The only down fall of sales is that you had to deal with Mark Hikel. I had to do a few training classes with him and I actually left the room frightened. He is a man that seems to have little regard for fellow employees or humanity in general. I only had good experiences with Layne Sapp so I cannot comment on the other comments other people have made about him because I never personally witnessed it. The few dealings I had with Sarah were OK enough but she actually seemed afraid of her husband too. I can remember one day running into her at the Starbucks down the road and she made the comment “Please don’t say anything to Mark.” Apparently, from the vibe I was getting, Mark would not approve of her having a fattening drink.

    In regards to Holly Taylor, I cannot think of anything positive to say. She lied to me from the interview on. She seemed to think she was the “ruler” of us little people and if we did not all obey her every demand, WOE to us ALL. In regards to Tina, I had to chuckle when I read the posting about her short skirts. It was almost pure comedy watching her climb in and out of her little red sports car every morning without pulling a “Britney Spears or Paris Hilton.” I cannot repeat any of the comments some of the guys in the building made about it

    When I first started at MILA, I was in heaven. I thought it was the best place to work. The pay was crap but the environment was great! Once Mark took over, it took about 2 days to feel the noticeable chill. He was like Hitler and when he would walk by and glare at everyone I can remember people saluting him like Hitler behind his back. Did I have concerns? OH YES. Did I approach my manager and try to discuss it in a calm and professional manner? YES AGAIN! What was I told? “MILA does not like a squeaky wheel. YOU should think about comprimising more. If you have additional concerns you can take them up with Holly Taylor.” Doing that of course was kissing your job goodbye. Holly was only interested in dealing with the “rebels” so that she could make their life hell and fire them.

    After Mark took over, it took only 3 months for me to lose complete faith in my management team. The people that were placed in those positions were placed there because of friendships, politics or who they were currently sleeping with. Maybe that sounds harsh but I am applying that to the managers that I KNEW and worked with on a daily basis. I cannot honestly say that about all the people in management because there were a few good ones but unfortunately there were not enough of them to make a difference. I can say this without bitterness or any beef. I was promoted 4 times in the first year I worked there and received numerous accolades from management for my working skills. I was not let go on bad terms. I am just simply stating my experiences there. When I turned in my notice I was actually offered a promotion and was told they wanted to keep me. I saw the writing on the wall though so I made my goodbyes and left with my dignity.

    The new company I went to closed down after a year. I don’t regret it for a minute though. When they laid us off they gave us a one month notice and a 3 month severance package with full medical benefits. They laid us off the right way…if you can say there is a right way to lay people off. I now went back into processing with a bank and I absolutely love my job. I never thought I would love processing after doing sales and being an underwriter. I have a strong management team though that recognizes hard work for what it is and awards it accordingly. A refreshing change from the office politics that abounded at MILA. I like to compare MILA to returning back to junior high with really mean teachers. 🙂

    For those of you who were laid off, I am really sorry. I actually had 3 friends who were there and given their “15 minutes” to close everything out. Apparently, Laynes own sister, who was an underwriter there, was not even in the know about this. I am sorry that you were all given the short end of the stick and I sincerely hope that you are all able to land on your feet. Remember, Karma has a long memory and is not one to mess around with. What goes around comes around. In that respect, you almost have to feel sorry for the Hikels because there life is going to be absolute hell at some point.

  79. God forbid the Hikels be part of any company again. I hope they google all of their names and hear us all. Yes, as laid off employees we should get on with our lives, but the treatment we received as employees under the reign of Sarah Hikel, Mark Hikel or Holly Taylor should be taken into consideration. It was unprofessional and never done in accordance with any ordinary operation organization. There was a wonderful Customer Service manger (maybe director?) that disappeared after a difference in opinion with Holly that left us all in doubt of how they ever left her go. They even made her manage Brian Carl under the disguise of making him believe he was in charge. She did a great job, but she criticized Holly Taylor and she was gone is a flash. It was all so degrading and un-motivating to us as employees. Who is this person that has all this inside nifo on the company, and is Layne really adopting Jeanette’s daughter…all of this gossip until it proves different. Why is it that if you lookup Nest online technologies you get nothing. What is happening there? Whay is a kid like Luke Adamson so powerful..Layne could not even get him to wear a tie even with the tailor he ran around to dress everyone else? Whatever happened to Jerry Smith who he appointed a tailor because hew ahted the way heis wife dressed him after he made him a VP. Why is he no where to be seen when Michelle Steinmetzer is still visible? It’s all very disappointing… what is really happening and who has proof that MILA got bought?

  80. Wow, lots to respond to. Here’s my two cents…

    I myself am a former MILA associate who worked closely with the management team. I was there when the company went under on April 20; I watched every manager and exec file into the boardroom that day, and saw Mark and Layne embrace upon exiting the meeting before giving the rest of us the news. Since then, I’ve found a new position in the escrow industry.

    The first thing I’d like to address is the comment(s) directed at those of us who were laid off, telling us to “get over it and move on”. Of course we’ll get over it – we’re not children and we have to pay the bills with another job. But that doesn’t mean we don’t feel bitter, betrayed, angry, or frustrated with the situation. Many of us put a lot of time and hard work into MILA. When the rug was pulled out from under us the way it was, can you blame us for feeling this way?

    I agree with virtually everyone here who has posted that Layne simply trusted too much to underqualified executives and managers. Yes, the MARKET was the biggest contributor to MILA’s downfall (as PayOptionArmyofDarkness points out in #76), but the way the layoffs and other issues were handled was a direct result of inferior staffing below Layne.

    Layne himself was great to work for. While I did not work directly with him very often, there were many, many times that I would pass him in the halls, and each time he would congratulate me on a project I had just finished or thank me for my hard work. He knew, in intimate detail, everything I was working on, at all times. That’s the mark of a great leader – to know what’s going on at your company at all times, and to make sure your employees are appreciated for it. I know he’ll land on his feet and I wish him all the best.

    (Side note: Yes, Layne had a USED Bentley. Come on, it was still a BENTLEY. I wonder how many times over I could have bought my Nissan for the amount that USED Bentley cost? I’m not saying he didn’t deserve to have the Bentley, and I don’t begrudge him for it. I would be driving something much nicer if I had his income. I’m just saying that sometimes corporate executives don’t recognize how “high up” they seem to their employees, and that they should probably be more self-aware when evaluating their employees’ working conditions.)

    Hindsight, as we all know, is 20/20. I worked with Sarah Hikel on a regular basis; she was never anything but polite and welcoming toward me. She always listened and accepted (or, seemed to accept) my ideas and projects. Unfortunately, I am now realizing that what I thought was acceptance was more like apathy. She never really challenged any of my suggestions, made recommendations for change, or followed up to see if any of my projects were completed to her satisfaction. I probably could have suggested burning the building down, and she would have given me the same warm-n-fuzzy corporate-speak for “great idea, let me know how it goes” that she always did, before going back to surfing the web.

    Mark Hikel. Lots has been said about Mark’s terrible treatment of sales associates, so I won’t rehash it. But, again with the hindsight: I can remember days when Mark would be on a conference call with a sales associate whose numbers weren’t up to snuff; the associate had funded something like 3 loans in 2 months. Mark would have the associate on speakerphone, and he would be screaming obscenities at the associate – he could be heard down the hall. At the time, we all thought the associate probably deserved it, such a thing was normal for Mark and for MILA. Looking back, I can hardly believe that none of us thought “wow, I don’t care how bad you screwed up, no one deserves to be yelled at like that”. But, even if we had thought so, there was a stigma about going over Mark’s head. FormerMILAMan mentions this in #65 – you’d better have a damn good reason to complain about Mark to Layne or to Holly Taylor. Both of them would take Mark’s word over yours 99.9% of the time, and in most cases, a complaint would out you on Mark’s “naughty” list – or on the unemployment line, if Holly was involved. I agree with the other posters; Holly was quick on the draw with a term notice if you didn’t walk the company line.

    Finally, I wanted to touch on Tina Gonsalves. Short skirts aside, there was a huge disconnect between her marketing strategies and the actual company operations. Layne trusted her to a fault. Tina’s idea to create MILA as a brand, not just a lender, was a great one. But it only worked in theory, because she wanted no part in actually making it work. She thought that she could market the company through the website and the website alone. She had no desire to work with the sales force, who is partially responsible for being the face of the company, or for being the “brand” itself. She refused to work with the sales force on marketing ideas, or even on marketing guidelines that would ensure a consistent brand message. She even admitted – frequently – that she knew nothing about mortgages or how they were sold and executed. She did not want to engage with the rest of the company and learn about the company she was marketing; she was simply content to do things “her way or the highway”, and I think it hurt MILA’s image quite a bit. MILA started Alt-A and Prime lending in early 2006, and stopped doing subprime loans altogether in January of 2007 – but all news reports about MILA’s closure mention MILA as a “subprime” lender. What does that tell you about the way MILA was marketed?

    Finally, to end this novel, I’d like to echo mortgagegirl’s post (#88). What’s happening with MILA? Who is purchasing them; which former MILA execs will be owners; will AccessPoint be involved; etc., etc. Like MissyMo and others, I have moved on to a much better job, and I believe that MILA’s closing was a good thing that kicked my butt and put me on a better career track. BUT. I am still morbidly curious to know what’s happening at the company where I spent 4 years as an employee. Looking forward to hearing the news. Best of luck to everyone out there!

  81. Hi AnotherMILAEx,

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    At one of my former employers, the very top manager often spent a great deal of time with the line workers (processors, sales, support staff) talking, listening, sometimes not about work-related matters but anything and everything, too. The line workers felt more connected to the very top manager and felt more comfortable talking with her about their direct report managers. The line managers KNEW that any employee could talk to her at any time about any issue.

    I don’t know the answer to this question but I’m going to risk asking readers anyways: If any one of you had gone over the head of the line managers and went right in to talk with Layne, Bentley or no Bentley, do you believe he might have listened to all of you individually and then collectively realized that there were problems?

    Shit runs downhill, so they say. So would Layne have ordered Mark to verbally shame the salesperson into changing his or her behavior? If not, then if I were Layne, I would definitely want to know if one of my managers was trying to motivate salespeople using fear and intimidation, which usually leads to negative consequences.

    As folks start to connect with new employers, the question that keeps coming up for me is: what will you do different next time, if anything, about management complaints?

    People come, people go, AND ALSO, managers come and go. The manager you have today might be different tomorrow.

  82. I have been reading the blog, and there is certainly a common thread of life at MILA. I too was laid off, spent some time there, and was subject to most of what everyone else was…inept managers. In response to your question about management complaints, here is my take on it :

    The best course of action is to keep solid documentation of your issues. If it was a verbal discussion, repeat it back in an email to your manager, so you both have an understanding of the “meeting” Keep a log of dates and times. When reporting to upper management about your own manager it helps to have the documentation, specific examples, and what you want the “upper manager” to do about the problem.It should be geared around improvements for your own manager, anything else is up to the exec. It is vital to remove the emotion and remember it is business and to act accordingly. It is not wise to bad mouth your manager, or expect the “upper manager” to take your side over someone who may report to him. The issues can be dealt with, and allow more training to take place and for things to be resolved rather than expecting your side to be taken over the offending manager. Most executives prefer to be in a position where it is a win win for all. He is not going to terminate another manager or executive on your word alone. The bottom line will be “what is in the best interest of employee retention and best for the company” Most disgruntled employees just need to be heard and their upset validated, and a wise executive will thank you for your information and then get back to you with some level of assurance that a discussion has been had and changes will happen along with training and awareness. Trust me none of that ever happened at MILA, and Layne was not well versed in handling situations like that very well, and Sarah just day dreamed through it, and usually left it to Holly who on a good day just thought about filling out paperwork for termination to save her the work of actually getting a resolution. It was inexperience, lack of a company vision for employee retention, and a knee jerk reaction to an emotionally charged situation that no one knew how to handle.

  83. Mark convinced Layne he was an expert on managing a sales team, and that his team was under managed and needed to get the drill sarge treatment. Layne trusted Mark, and in the beginning got the results he wanted, but did’nt bother to see it was also enhanced by the market and products available. Layne felt (in my opinion) Mark was taking the tough love approach with the sales team, and I don’t believe he saw him as a “bully”. When Layne was told that the team felt intimidated, threatened or that his(Mark’s) approach was actually under motivating them, he appeared to believed the sales person didn’t have what it took to make it “opportunity day” and be the kind of sales person that would lead MILA to success. Layne was under the Mark Hikel spell…I don’t think he realized until much too late (if at all) that all the loyal employees he had that would have done anything for him were filled with disappointment. The sales team was never given training that really made an impact, or any motivational team building exercises to build on what they were doing, they were constantly yelled at and humiliated…Layne just didn’t see it. Layne protected his employees if he saw there was a problem and he could fix it. MILA was running on high speed and Layne was convinced to delegate and concentrate on his expertise and let others do their jobs. He was naive and the company was moving at the speed of light. It was, once again improperly trained people in positions of power, and people promoted to positions with no training or experience to follow them. A strong front line saves the troops and there was not one in place, but to better answer your question..Layne, had he known and realized what was going on, he definitley would have stepped in and asked Mark to modify his approach or brought in a 3rd party to train and motivate.

  84. There are literally only six or seven people seemingly obsessed with their previous employer and what they think they know about the people who ran the company. It’s terrible that this slanderous medium is available at all but what’s worse is that the negativity expressed is coming from a place much deeper within those posting such thoughts. My deepest sympathy to all of you who are in such pain. Look to yourselves and to your friends and loved ones and work toward positives. Think about how you would feel if someone put such negative things in writing about you. Think about seeing your name in a negative light in public media. The people who ran MILA each with over 20 years in business – Sapp and ‘The Hikels’ genuinely loved the work and cared about the people they were responsible for managing. They were some of the most integritas folks I have ever had the pleasure of working with. The company was very well run and had high marks from auditors and state examiners. They ran a tight ship and if you were either not doing your job, negative or both you weren’t going to be successful anywhere why blame the people who were responsible for ensuring that people who worked for their company were contributors? It is important to ask yourselves what you do each day to contribute positively or negatively to your own perceptions. As long as you judge or blame others for being responsible for the negativity in your lives you will remain negative. Good luck to all.

  85. Boy there are some bitter people within this Blog. I guess the big qustion is why? Why is everyone blaming the Hikel’s and where did some of get off saying they are evil people. Looking at all of these comments 1-92 there are only about 7 of you of over 600 employees that are pissed off and need to blame someone and I guess it would be the Hikels. I’m only here becuase someone told me about this site and the content of information being passed around.
    Shame on all of you to isolate your bitterness on the last 8 to 12 months and blame two peopel who worked their tails off to make it work. Shame on all of you for insinuating that the Hikels made all the decisions and the Layne the OWNER of the company had nothing to do with them. Layne made all the decison from sales to ops to closing the company. At any time a key descion was to be made Layne would have to opine. What I acn’t get over is how mean many of you are and that your comments are meant to spread ‘hurt’ to those who read them. I sense that from the comments made and the insight I derived from them many of them come form line managers in operations, obviously sales and the fouth floor. Wow how one sided could you be. Not one of you has said one positive thing whic is impossible. The company thrived for 6 years with thd Hikles, not until the market collpased was there a problem. This was not isolated to the MILA, companies like New Centurya and Fremont all suffered the same ened beacuse of the market conditions NOT becaue of management. Did any of you ever think that some of this market strees affected the Hikel’s and that no matter what decisions would be made could not benefit or appear to be in thee best interests of all. You unfortunate you are being extremly selfish and for some of you disrespectful.

    What I do know about the Hikel’s is that this company before they got here was about to file BK. They took a chance because of the relationship with Layne and ‘togther’ the rebuilt the organization. For 6 years MILA thrived as a top 20 lender in the country. Why because those three had a ‘plan’ and togther they executed the plan. No matter what you feel about the sales manager Mr Hikel formulated a sales strategy and plan to execute Laynes vision of his technology. What was painfully obviuos was the lack of accountability of the sales team. Not all but the majority. Each week we trained going through the sales stratgey and sales process. I can honestly say I never heard one employee say they where initmidaded or fearful after the session. To the contray Mr. Hikel was one of the most inspiring and motivating speakers. Exsit question forms clearly indicated this. In fact he always gave everyone of his employees the benefit of the doubt. I can’t tell you how many hours he would spend on the phone coaching and mentoring his employees -to a fault. I saw and heard this first hand. So in his defense maybe the yelling you people heard has been isolated to those employees who abused his goodwill, I’m sure you feel the same. Mr Hikel was the one who spearheaded training at MILA. Does any one remember Huthwaite, the sales strategy and the sales process. These where his idea’s, but the sales team was not about to adopt sales training. So “Yet another MILA EX” saying there was no training only suggests you have a bitter attiude and your blaming Mr Hikel for the wrong reason. Yet another MILA EX you look familiar to me, and If I’m right shame on you, your loyalty or lack of is appalling!

    Most or all of you have never been in a position of managing a company let alone ever managed people but yet all of you has an answer, WOW! It’s always easy to look back in hindsight and give a 20/20 opinion but I gaurantee that if you where in the same seat as Layne, Sarah and Mark you would have at least understood what these human beings endured for the last year and I think your bitter attitudes would swing to compassion

    Stop being abusive and begin to appreciate what these people accomplished, and be part of what was a great company.

  86. Hi Why Slander and Truth be Told,

    Thanks for stopping by and contributing your experiences.

    When there are sudden massive layoffs, like what happened during the final round of layoffs at Mila, employees are often in a state of shock. They work through their situation in many ways. For example, sometimes laid-off employees gather together at a favorite restaurant to commiserate together. Ex-employees can empathize with each other and then provide support on the path ahead.

    The negative comments you’re reading are coming from their anger. Not necessarily at those managers, just anger in general. For all we know, they could be angry at themselves for not quitting sooner, or for continuing to work under managers they did not respect.

    Either way, what you’re reading is no different than conversations between employees that always happened with massive layoffs. Except now we can all listen in.

    I believe the anger you’re reading is part of a process humans go through when faced with sudden loss.

    Why Slander and Truth Be Told, blaming the market and criticizing former employee comments mean you’re turning your anger back toward employees and doing the same thing you accuse the former employees of doing.

    It sounds like you are both angry, too.

  87. If you worked with either of the Hikels you could venture a very good guess that Sarah wrote “Why Slander #93 and Mark wrote “The Truth be Told” #94 (his typical mispellings were obvious). It’s only a guess, but I would bet a buck it’s true, their vernacular is typical. It’s also to be expected that they would defend themsleves, unfortunately because of their lack of insight and any idea of what was going on, or how their actions were perceived it’s not suprising that they don’t get it. There are way too many people who know that their actions speak louder than words, and their sincerity fairly empty. If I am correct, it is the Hikels who should pick them selves up and learn from all of this and make adjustments in their own lives so that they don’t face this barrage of critisms in their next professional roles. I noticed no one defended their HR manger…and they just about threw Layne under the bus in the process, so no loyalty there.

  88. Good thing you only bet a dollar KN. Not only would they likely only read something like this if it were sent to them directly they certainly wouldn’t play into it nor ever throw LS under any busses and that’s what I know. This is enough for me whew, exhausting.

  89. To: “The Truth Be Told’- I must agree, only a few people would know the financials of MILA 6 years ago when the Hikels came on board. It would be Layne and Brian Carl or his brother they fired .They all owned a piece of MILA. Brian’s brother got bought out/tossed out (I am assuming) and The Hikels got a percentage.So if the writer is not a Hikel, can’t imagine who else it could be with all that inside knowledge! The person who wrote calls Mark Hike “Mr. Hikel” so all that financial knowledge and he/she is referring to him as Mr. Hikel? Sounds like an executive with cats at home. There was a lot of unhappy front line manager, and sales people..why? Because of the treatment and the attitude of the Hikels. There may be 6-8 people here, but if you read the papers, or other blogs the numbers are much higher. It doesn’t matter. Hopefully everyone will learn something, and although this is my first posting (I have been reading it for weeks) I want to thank Jillayne Schlicke for his her thoughtful consideration of masses of people left without jobs with no respect to timing or even a few more minutes to gather their things and say goodbye to friends. It was a terrible experience, and many people there were profoundly impacted by their job loss, and not even being given any warning at all. “WhySlander” (HT) you need to take your own advice and as you said “It is important to ask yourselves what you do each day to contribute positively or negatively to your own perceptions. As long as you judge or blame others for being responsible for the negativity in your lives you will remain negative”

  90. Guess again, now isn’t this fun? Anyone who knows any of those mentioned in the last three entries here knows – that those three are too buried and positive to play into this, knows that there are others who pre-date the Hikels and know more about the incorrectly stated information by TBtold – people who know them know they love LS like family and also know there sadly haven’t been any cats at their home for a long time. Also – SH can spell. There have been many more folks who have positive things to say than negatives. When did this all get so personal? Has nobody lost a job before? Say, should we plan a reunion?

  91. “Why Slander”- No , not fun at all.You must still be employed by MILA, which, if anyone cared would leave you as one of the handful of people still going into work each day. You sarcastic attitude shows your lack of empathy, and concern for the 600+ people who were employed by MILA, the 300+ who hung in there after layoffs, not to mention the 50+ who were there in the begining. You show more concern for absent cats (they got new hairless ones, she talked about them too…) than employees who lost jobs. Instead of being so insensitve and saying “should we plan a reunion”: why not add something more positive and give a resource for job leads or people you may know as resources? Follow your own advice and offer something postive, instead of contributing to the negative (as you say) You are obviosuly still tight with the group and employed so you have no idea what we are going through, or experienced even though some of us may have jobs now. SH can spell, but MH needs an editor, you must remember that? You appear to know so much and have so little insight or positve ways to turn this whole thing around. Your negativity and arrogant attitude is appaling given the sermon you spouted in #93. A company is run by an executive committee, and they were, among others, the Owner, the President, and COO, etc…who else would managers, direct report and individual contributors blame? They were the ones who made all the decisions and contibuted to the way in which lay offs occured and how people were treated. Your defense of how “buried and positive” they are leaves you standing out there alone defending them for whatever inside reason you may have, but it certainly leaves you dismissing the many employees who were jobless in a very short time. Maybe none of them ever lost a job before, I know I had not, unless it was by choice. So take a deep breath, the Hikels & LS can take care of themselves, if they are like family they have a great support system in place. I suggest you look at your peers, reports or the real reason you “protest too much” and align yourself with some of that positve energy you support so much…walk the talk.

  92. Ok, I can’t help but jump in after having this sent to me by a co-worker…How did sympathy get to cats and not to people? whyslander? You note how sad it is that the Hikels don’t have cats (could care less either way) but berate people who are suffering all the loss of a job and livelihood associated with being employed at the hands of what they perceive was mismanagement. I agree, you must still be at MILA you sound like the HR Manager, Holly or Michelle Stienmetzer from your catty (no pun intended) remark. You should be ashamed of yourself to talk about slander, and how positive contributions create a better frame of mind, and then note someone’s initials as KN, pointing at a person, and then use caustic language to be just as negative as the people you criticize. I agree with the last posting “walk the talk”! I too had never lost a job before, and I have been working for 14 years, so it’s new for me, and it was a terrible shock! I came to work, sick, sometimes compromising my needs with family to keep my job secure and be of support to a company I believed in. Mila repaid me by giving me 15 minutes to leave. I am hurt, angry and more than anything disappointed in the treatment. It was expected to overlook how the executives showered themselves with jewelry, cars boats etc. What Layne bought his first “tax advantage” yacht for could have bough everyone in the company a townhouse or condo. We are all entitled to spend our earning as we wish, but flaunting it in the face of hardworking people with pictures on the desk, and a diamond so huge on Sarah’s hand it could have bought a single family dwelling with no Mila loan needed! Well let’s just say no severance, and 15 minutes to get out was a bitter pill to swallow. If you want to have a reunion, encourage MILA to do a job fair at the almost empty building,or put the employees still looking for work in touch with recruiters with letters of reccomendations…could have all been done if we were given more than 15 minutes and a plan was put in place for terminations.

  93. MILA, was a tough experience. A family member of mine was laid off from there, and while I may disagree with the methods,and the inteegrity of the executives and HR manger in charge, or her expertise, I am in a Human Resources position in a high level company and have the following advice for all.

    Regardless of the reasons for being dismissed from your job, being fired or let go can have a tremendous emotional impact that can not only affect you but the people around you.

    You are bound to feel depressed, embarrassed, angry. You may be in shock for days and weeks following the layoff. All these emotions are quite normal; the key is working your way through them so that you can come out on the other side with a positive attitude and a plan for the future.

    Just about everyone will get fired or laidoff at least once in their careers, and while that is not something to celebrate, it is something to cling to as you fight depression and try to regain your self-confidence in moving forward with your life.
    As you read the signs — even if in the end they are incorrect — it never hurts to prepare yourself for the worst in case the layoff actually does happen. Much better to prepare than to do what most of us do, which is hide deeply in denial.

    A checklist for preparing for a layoff (with details of each on the following pages):

    Document how your position is vital to success of organization
    Contemplate career and job alternatives
    Polish job-search materials
    Ramp-up career networking
    Line up references
    Back-up all personal files from company computer
    Examine finances; prepare contingency budget
    Avoid rumors and office politics as much as possible
    Stay productive and on task
    Talk with your family
    While this is something you should be constantly doing as part of your self-marketing and personal branding campaign, now is especially the time to pull together hard numbers and key accomplishments to demonstrate the importance of your position — and you in that position — to the organization’s current and future success.
    Remember who you are and what your contributions were to the company you worked for. Good Luck

  94. Why won’t any of you use your real names??? Maybe because this is a small industry and somehow someone knows someone who knows someone and if you use your real name in slandering people it could hurt in the future. Apparently none of you learned if you have nothing nice to say don’t say it. Or treat people as you would like to be treated. I worked for MILA from Sept of 2003 until they shut down. It was a great company and I did well there. I must have been one of those inept managers; I was promoted from a BDM to an ASM and worked pretty closely with Mark. Being that I was in the military he was nothing like a drill sergeant. That’s just funny. He was stern when he wanted to get your attention, he would get his point across and then it was back to coaching and mentoring. (At the end it was bad but I’m sure the reality of the company was setting in) The only complaint I have is the lack of communication at the end. Other than that I enjoyed working for the company and can’t believe that you can’t find any good in the experiences you had with MILA. I have nothing against anyone from MILA and wish everyone well. I have moved on to another wholesale lender. The market is what it is and in many of our markets it is going to get worse before it gets better. I will take what I learned from MILA and know I will be successful in whatever I end up doing. Look back on the positive and not the negative, if you dwell on that it will eat you up inside. Many were painted with the same brush at the end including myself and I am not going to be bitter. I don’t think that the Hikels or Layne can be blamed for the market conditions. Again I wish all well who have lost jobs due to what’s going on with the market but I don’t think blaming anyone even yourself is the answer.

  95. I absolutely agree and at the same time I am afraid to use my name albeit I am so positive about MILA and it’s management team – I don’t want to hear from the negative side. Perceptions are what they are but I hear things that are just terrible and even completely irelevant about individuals that were probably more hurt than anyone with the closure of the company. Layne, Mark and Sarah Hikel. I agree – Mark was tough but a great coach and I learned so much from him. Layne was pretty removed but Sarah Hikel was not only very driven to get things accomplished she was also kind and available and allowed people to grow and so many people speak very highly of her management style. She fostered tolerance and collaboration and we got great results from that culture. Then someone who was employed for, someone said 14 years etc. doesn’t have anything good to say yet they stayed there for that long? As for the no severance and 15 minutes to get out…we probably got paid for as long as possible knowing the integrity of those folks and from what I understand they and other sr managers took several salary cuts and made other cuts prior to making that final tough decision. I was there that last day and people were there for hours and Sarah in particular was walking around hugging people for hours giving them her personal phone number to give her as a reference to potential employers. She and HR gave contact information to some search firms and to HR staff at local companies. Whoever said they were given 15 minutes to leave just wasn’t there and it is so sad to hear something like that. It is insulting to so many people who loved and felt that they were part of something they loved. I for one appreciate the growth and the commoradarie I experienced and I will always be proud of being part of such a great company. I understand being hurt by what happened but I don’t think it’s fair to be cruel to people who would have done anything to change the outcome and did so much for so long to provide great jobs to many. Thank you Debbie for inspiring me to speak up even if I too am not willing to post my name.

  96. The article says it all, thanks for sharing it. I hope what the last 2 entries reported are true, and that the people there at the last were treated with some level of caring and respect. I can tell you that being ushered as a group into a room in a nearby hotel, and told, along with our bewildered manager that we were laid off and subsequently walked out with all of our things packed in boxes, never allowed back imto the building we worked was devastating. Our manager was never even given the courtesy of a heads up to better prepare the many of us that reported to her. 15 minutes to leave and say goodbye to the people we worked with would have been a luxury. It appears the rise and fall of MILA still was generated with a lot of greed. There is no question a big mess to clean up, and the huge amount that creditors may never see, just seems unfair.
    What goes around comes around..and my expereience working there and being laid off does, in no way refelct the feelings of Debbie and Thank you..but maybe they learned from all the carnage they caused in the previous lay offs. I still think there was an inexperienced person running HR who did as she pleased, and executives who did not value the many worker bees who got all their loans through, and spent way too much time and money buying expensive cars, jewels,trips and houses and worst of all bragged about it as the rest of us struggled. Maybe it’s their time to struggle, and try to figure out what comes next for them.

  97. I agree with Mortgage girl as well. As for “Thank You” and wondering if I stayed at MILA for 14 years, I was actually referring to my 14 year career working, quite thankfully only less than a few of them were spent at MILA. In those 14 years I was never fired, laid off or ever changed a job or position without it being part of a plan on my part or in colloboration with my manager. I worked with Sarah on a few projects, and found her nice, and somewhat acccomodating, but bored and seemingly uninterested. If she fosterd colloboration and tolerance, it was not seen by me or any of the people I worked for. She made fun of Brian Carl,his wife (showing no respect for him regardless if it was warranted or not) laughed behind Jerry Smith’s back about how his wife dressed him, and joked about Holly’s ability to parent, date, her cosmetic surgery etc not to mention saying that Layne’s wife told her that she would be mortified if they made Holly a director, since she was so inexperienced. I found none of these comments professional or meaningful to the success of MILA or the people she should have shown more support to. I made a mental note to never let her know anything about me for fear of what she may do when my back was turned.I can’t image what was said to people that actually reported to her in one on ones! I also have no recollection of all the fond farewells she claimed happened…but it could have been mainly for the 4th floor. I think the main thing is that everyone learned something after working for MILA and the Hikels and Layne, and whatever that education may have been, hopefully it will serve them well in our next job…they may not have been mentors but you can learn alot about what “not to do”…the whole MILA sitation good, bad or indiffernt should serve as a lesson well learned for all of us. The mess, truly sounds like a big clean up job for those that are left to deal with it.

  98. Textbook HR practice is to “usher” people into a nearby meeting place while clearing their desks when doing layoffs. Employees being terminated are a liability and while compassion can and in my opinion should be shown in the form of severance, a smart HR manager will do as experts recommend, be cautious, as was done. Folks are reacting to the cold shock of being let go, not how they were let go.

    As far as MILA’s past underwriting decisions and its future – the newspaper article used the MILA situation for its own agenda, mainly to report on the subprime market as a whole and even that was poor and inaccurate. MILA funded what investors said they would buy, nothing more or less. As MILA never intended to hold loans to term, its underwriting guidelines and policies were a carbon copy of what Wall Street asked for. MILA’s whole goal was to be as transparent as possible, giving brokers the deals that Wall Street wanted to securitize.

    When buybacks started happening (primarily last October), MILA cleared its buybacks immediately and made new, stronger deals with its investors in order to avoid ever having more buybacks, which it didn’t. MILA was squeezed in a different direction, on its margins which have been steadily increasing for close to a year. MILA funded its loans on credit, credit which required a certain “good faith” match be made. That “good faith” match required cash in the form of reserves in order to keep the doors open. When that cash ran out due to increasing margin requirements, decisions had to be made as to whether to keep funding loans or close the doors. Personal funds were interspersed to keep MILA open for an extra couple of months when its operating capital was sucked dry by a timid market, but when the last margin increase came, the decision was made to close shop.

    And if folks are unsure if MILA will be back, look for indications. Bankruptcy is a strategic business tool used to reneg and reduce debts. Once its debts are reduced, consolidated, and tallied to the last dollar, MILA’s assets will be a lot more appealing to prospective buyers.

    Good luck to everyone in your job searches and congratulations to those who have already found new work.

  99. I have to completly agree with LoanMe….Wall Street ended MILA not MILA executives. I kept quiet throughout these posts to see where they were going and I honestly believe to this day I was working for the best lender out there. Sarah and Mark Hikel here you have the President of Sales and the VP of operations what a better marriage? They always were working to build a sold process which in my eyes was excellent. Layne built NEXT to be the best application tool out there. I have been on a lot of interviews with a lot of different lenders and frankly I can’t seem to find one that is even close to what MILA gave me as a BDM to succeed.

    I miss Layne, Mark, Sarah, and Brian Carl. I hope one day MILA will re-open its doors and I will be offered the opportunity to come back to them, I have no hesitation to do so.

    I believe a lot of people were just upset about losing their jobs and rightfully so. I am still unemployed and I have not been living the lifestyle I was so accustomed to. But on the bright side this business will come back and I really believe MILA will also be back. I even bet our brokers will be happy to see us back, the service levels out there from what I am hearing are terrible.

    Good luck to you all,


  100. Hi mortgage girl, mila-no-more, and LoanMe,

    I have always been of the opinion that Layne would make a comeback. Thanks for your comments on the latest MILA news.

    Question for readers: If MILA resurfaces, would any of you return there for work in the future? If yes, why? If no, why not?

  101. There are several valid points from “Loan me”. I am sure there is a strategic business reason and opprotunity around filing for bankruptcy. It does reneg and reduce debt at the expense of the company’s creditors. I never, in my time at MILA questioned their integrity around loans they funded or how they were sold. I am sure they were done well and attributed to their success. I was unable to find any “classic textbook” versions to the way in which employees should be laid off as “Loan me” described. I did hear that MILA may have been reprimanded by the state for the incorrect way in which the lay offs were conducted in one of the big waves. I heard this from the unemployment office, and also heard them complain about how the HR department handled the terminations and subsequent complications surrounding former employees collecting unemployment.Describing Holly Taylor as a “smart” manger does not fit her, cunning and self serving would be a better description. My main complaint was the unprofessinal behavior of the HR manager, and the Hikels. I think Layne is brilliant and innovative, and no doubt will surface here and continue to experience success in whatever he does. I would work for him again, but not if the Hikels or Ms Taylor is involved. I learned alot from their unprofessional behavior and treatment of people, projects, reorgs, and priorities. Yes, they had their favorites and I am sure they enjoyed working for them and with them. LoanMe definitley sounds as if he/she has an inside line on MILA resurfacing, and I hope they do, they have, no doubt learned a lot in this process.

  102. Jillayne – Thank you for hosting this blog site. I appreciate your information regarding the psychology and ethics of closing companies, layoffs, etc.

    1) I am not “Yet Another MILA Ex” as accused in #97. If I am going to post my opinions to the world on this then I’ll post them under my own name.

    2) I’ve gone on record plenty of times that Hikel & Sapp were good to me during my tenure at MILA. I stand by that. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some great sales managers, operations managers, production workers, and the best L&PD department out there. I miss them all.

    3) Regarding Sapp/Hikel – We all have the good, the bad, and the ugly and if I have learned nothing else from my time at MILA, I’ve learned this – it’s easy to judge the others, it’s hard to judge yourself. I can think Mark was a jerk for his comments on the phone with reps, but I didn’t have to manage that group or have the responsibility of getting volume up. I can think Sarah was a jerk for her diamond ring, but one – Sarah didn’t buy her own ring, and two -who doesn’t like nice things? Jealousy doesn’t give the right to assign character traits to someone just because they have a nice ring. I can think Layne made bad choices in management, but I would then be accusing Layne of being unintelligent and a bad judge of character – and we all know that simply isn’t true. I can think a lot of things but in the end, people are fallible and will sometimes not meet our expectations, and that’s OK. I am fallible and I do not sometimes meet others’ expectations and I would still hope for a little grace from the rest of mankind. Regardless of anyone else’s actions, I can still choose my reactions. I just wish I gained that perspective long

    4)Jillayne – you have posted a lot of questions that I want to briefly address:

    Predatory Lending – I believe those who buy loans should complete due diligence to ensure loans were not closed that had predatory issues. MILA’s investors did this to ensure MILA was in compliance and MILA had several internal controls to ensure we were in compliance. All lenders should appropriate the tools necessary for this; when they do not, everyone pays a price.

    Notice of pending layoffs/closures – I agree that most people would like to know it’s coming with as much notice as possible and most employes would like as much production out of their employees for as long as possible. I don’t know that there is an ideal way to meet both ends. Also, sometimes companies do not have a lot of notice regarding closures to give notice. I do agree with some of the earlier comments that layoffs should be handled with great care and should include information for these employees with tools for job searching, etc.

    Impact of layoffs/closures – Your psychological information is spot on. In the end, losing your job or your company is a loss and you are going to grieve for it. you’ll experience a lot of the emotions of grief – anger and bargaining and depression and hurt and fear. It takes a lot to constructively work through those emotions.

    Finding another job – you asked about coming from a subprime background – The executives at MILA worked diligently to move MILA from subprime to an Alt-A platform which exposed employees to several types of products and lending strategies. However, employers focused on Fannie/Freddie, VA/FHA, etc. type lending many not hire a worker with just a background in non prime/alt-a because they would have to train them on the other stuff and don’t want to. Other employers are willing to take the time to train if they believe you have potential. It depends on the company’s individual culture and goals. Is it hard to find another job regardless? Yes, it definitely can be. Then again, others from recent closures (MILA, WMC, etc.) started jobs within 1-3 weeks of closures.

  103. I was asked by several AE’s to do business with MILA. Almost did, but never funded one deal. They simply were too expensive if you knew how to effectively shop around.

    I’m actually a little surprised other lenders haven’t popped before MILA…maybe it’s a matter of time.

  104. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for bringing us up to speed on how you’re doing. I’ve been busy writing a 4-part series on selecting a lender by institution, comparing banks, brokers, consumer finance companies, and credit unions. When I’m finished with that series I will be posting an article on job search strategies for laid off mortgage lending workers.

  105. Hi Mila no more,

    It’s interesting that people commenting on this blog seem okay with going back to work for Layne but not the other managers, yet Layne hired them. If I were being interviewed to re-join Mila, I would want to know more about how Layne will make himself available to listen to complaints about management from line workers, without fear of retaliation. “We have an open door policy” is often trumped by corporate culture.

  106. Hi David,

    Interesting insights into pricing. I wonder if the higher fees were part of the problem near the end?

    Higher fees usually go hand in hand with higher quality of people, better technology, more money going into compliance tools like Kelly mentioned in comment number 112, and so forth.

    Would an LO such as yourself be willling to work with a more expensive lender in exchange for higher quality?

  107. Jillayne-

    I guess it does sound confusing that I would be willing to go back to work for Layne, but not the managers he hired. In reality I doubt very much if I would actually work with him again, but I did want to convey that he is a talented, smart and very determined man. I am not sure where he will stand on the open door policy, my guess is that he would make every effort to align himself with people he could trust and respect after all he has been though. Kelly was also correct, and I was humbled by her words- ” it’s easy to judge the others, it’s hard to judge yourself.” I did not experience a feeling of respect or admiration for the Hikels or the HR Manager for many reasons, some that were commuicated in rather acidic tones, but true none the less. I have no idea why Layne let it happen or what his perception was of what was going on…so, you’re right that does remain a concern.I am curretnly in a job I love, with people I respect, and no plans on leaving. I do wish Layne well, I would like to see him rise above this and be successful again…

  108. I almost worked with Mila once and (1) I could not believe they would do the loan; (2) the rate was very high. I’m sure the employees were great, however, my bet is the high rate correlates with the high risk loans.

  109. The BK was needed as Layne has to be away from the whole deal. Looks like the potential buyer is going to buy the assets out of the BK directly and Layne will be disassociated completely.

    Then Mark will run the “new born” MILA. Look for this to happen sooner or later. Additionally LS will have a non-compete clause and will not be doing Home Loans in any sense. Rumor is that he is going to raise money and do some private equity type venture.

    Hikel will ‘BE BACK” at the helm of the new company. Subprime will make a comeback but rates will be in the teens for sure.

    Keep in mind that LS decided to shut MILA down and it was not forced completely by Investors. He was tired of putting more money in the company month after month to keep equity in the warehouse lines.

    LS will be back at the top although it may not be in the mortgage arena.

  110. Praise be to mortgagegirl for her concern over HT’s two children. I sure hope that her husband-to-be LA understands what he is getting in to.

  111. The behaviors people display in their private life often spill over into their professional life. The reason HT did not make a credible, repsected or trustworthy HR manager was probably because she had so little value for people. A clear reflection of her professional tactics and integrity if she had so little regard for her kids. I am sure LA knows what he is getting into, and he may have been part of the decisons she made, who knows. There is good reason no one in this blog has bothered to defend her or deny her lack of professional abilites.

  112. Pingback: What makes a mortgage company “evil”? | Blown Mortgage

  113. It seems that the majority of complaints are not about the business MILA did, but rather the way in which the employees, policies and procedures were manged. I had a family member at MILA, and was never employed there, but I am in the HR field. I also have had the experience of managing processes and procedures in the lay off of large number of employees from the times when companies or went out of business or large departments outsourced. It was my experience that the employees were told of the impending closure in advance, and asked to remain on board for the final days in order to wrap up business that could be sold or transferred. In exchange they were offered severance packages, and referrals to a firm that would assist in reviewing their resumes and job marketing for future positions. Employees were given the opprotunity of staying or leaving immediately, in which case they did not receive a severance. In both cases, 90% of the employees stayed on until the end and were able to have a better understanding of how bsuiness make decisions to close or how outsourcing works. It was a learning experience and also a better understanding of how it was a business decsion and not a personal one. This was especialy beneficial to the employees who left, and saw others stay. The employees were all given an opprotunity to ask questions, after the inital announcements were made and make decisions that were in their own best interest. Sure, it required creating a plan in the midst of difficult times for the company’s executive team, but the end result was also loyalty and respect. Companies may come and go, and it is the people you work with that makes the biggest impact. I have seen high level executives recruit people from their companies because of their work style ethics and ability to accomplish certain goals. The people who had a negative expereince at MILA, may take a closer look at the managers and executives they worked with and make a careful assement should they ever be approached to work in a company where they may be employed, or own in the future. MILA made a decision on how they wanted to handle the first level of layoffs, and the final closure. They clearly had an inexpereinced HR manager (Holly Taylor) in place, in my opinion, which would question the COO(Sarah Hikel) who was managing her to make one wonder if she had much experience either. The end result is that Layne oversaw all the final decisions, and given all the praise he has received, it is still a fact that he had the final say on how it was done. If he was influenced, or placed too much trust in their decisions, then that was still his final responsibility to bear.

  114. This article, released today,through King 5, shows how WAMU gave their employees a least a month’s notice if not more….same problems, differnt ways of handling their employees, which gives them the notice they need and the respect they believed they deserve.

    WaMu cuts hundreds of jobs in subprime lending

    06:48 AM PDT on Friday, July 20, 2007

    Associated Preess

    SEATTLE – Washington Mutual Inc., the nation’s largest savings and loan, has laid off hundreds of employees in several offices that process home loans for borrowers with shaky credit.

    The Seattle-based thrift told about 210 employees at two subprime loan fulfillment centers in June that the company was eliminating their jobs and closing down those offices in Dublin, Calif., east of San Francisco and Itasca, Ill., northwest of Chicago, Washington Mutual spokeswoman Olivia Riley said Wednesday.

    Most of those workers will be gone by Aug. 1, Riley said.

    Earlier this year, the company cut about 250 jobs in four other offices that support its subprime lending business.

    The company did not shut down those offices: in Stockton, Calif., east of San Francisco; Clark, N.J., outside Newark; Lake Oswego, Ore., a suburb of Portland; and Dallas.

    Most of those workers were notified of the layoffs in February and were gone by April, Riley said.

    Like many other lenders nationwide, Washington Mutual has been scaling back its subprime business, which has suffered steep losses amid a rising number of delinquencies and defaults.

    On Wednesday, the company said it originated 70 percent fewer loans to subprime customers – those considered a greater risk because of sketchy credit histories or low income – in its second fiscal quarter than in the same period last year.

    Additional layoffs remain a possibility, though the company has not announced any specific plans.

    Washington Mutual has about 50,000 employees in its branches and support offices nationwide.

  115. Hi Mortgagegirl,

    Thanks for the update. I had not heard about WaMu, but I did catch this on today:

    “IndyMac Bancorp Inc. is laying off 400 employees around the nation after second-quarter loan volumes fell 12 percent from the previous quarter. The reality is that the mortgage market continues to be very tough right now, and we recognize that we must take action in order to protect our business and remain competitive,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Perry said in an e-mail to employees that was posted on the company’s official blog….IndyMac has a “generous” severance package that will provide the laid-off workers with two weeks to 12 months of pay, he said. The layoffs will save IndyMac $30 million a year after a $6.5 million charge in the third quarter.”

    This makes me wonder where all these employees will go to find work!

  116. This was recently brought to my attention.

    The right to be warned before a massive layoff. Under the WARN ACT, employers that maintain over 100 employees need to give “60 days notice pay” that effect more than 50 employees?

    I’m not trying to beat a dead horse but being that I just found this information out, and was one of the layoffs, this money could have helped out.

    Has anyone checked into this?

  117. Hi previously employed,

    I googled the WARN Act and found this link.

    It looks like MILA may be covered under this exception:

    (2) unforeseeable business circumstances. This exception applies to closings and layoffs that are caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time notice would otherwise have been required;

    But I’m not a labor law attorney. If any formerly employed MILA worker has consulted with an attorney and has any helpful information, please feel free to post here.

  118. It was the market, not the executives, that caused MILA to close. Indy Mac’s proposed layoffs and Countrywides’ slashed second quarter profits clearly indicate the challenges in the lending arena.
    Mark and Sarah are people of strong character with the highest levels of integrity. I for one am proud to have worked with them.
    The loss of MILA was all of our loss. While it is natural to be frustrated or angry when losing a job, personal attacks have no place in a situation that arose soley from market influences. It is time to move forward. I wish you all luck in your job searches.

  119. hate to beat a dead horse here…there is no question the market changed. It changed for a lot of companies. A perfect example is WAMU (above) Indy Mac and several others. The executives made decisions on lay offs, and in general termination as a whole as a general practice. How they were handled has always been up for scruinty, and the mass lay offs were in the opinion of many handled badly. No one likes to be dischaged, and it is a delicate matter. Most MILA employees were laid off with no severance, not prior notice and at the end of the month, so usually no insurance other than paying a huge sum for COBRA. I am glad that you ( above posting) had a good experience working for Mark and Sarah, however many did not. I personally had several meetings with her and listened to her on several occassions be anything but professional or engaged in her positon. Mainly what I heard was gossipy critiques of upper execs, hurtful comments about people on her own team, and even divulging the cosmetic surgery and love life of her HR manager. There was the endless talk about her cats, comments about her own sex life and her exciting shopping trips to Turgeon Raine for jewelry which she showed off. I saw Mark in a upset state a few times, but never had it directed at me, so I did not have any knowledge of what it may be like to report to him.
    I did not experience high integrity, a show of leaderhip, or any display of value of employees. Holly Taylor loved terminating people, and my own expereince when I was part of a termination process was that she laughed and joked the whole time, this is of course while preparing the paperwork, and showing glee, making sure she had all the documentation on the offense.Holly hunted down women whose skirt was an inch too short, or blouse a shade too revealing, write them up while the Marketing person, Tin G made people gasp by the way she dressed (and got away with it). The dress code only applied to the ones they felt needed humiliating, and was not enforced across the board. I was more than often appalled at how delicate matters and concerns of employees were handled. There was special treatment of certain people, and others were cut no slack at all. Market influence or not, the downfall of MILA also had poor performance of the COO and HR manager well in place before the market shifted. The good thing is that with a positive experience, those people can go back to working for the Hikels. That is an individual choice, but please don’t blame it all on the market, there was plenty of warning, and time to conduct the lay offs with some level of integrity and sensitivity. It hurts to lose your job, but it doesn’t have to hurt as much as it did.

  120. Hello Mortgage girl. Bottom line question.
    Do you think the layoffs were an unforseeable business circumstances. I know they were having issues with finances from the time they changed the insurance benefits. which was how long 2 months prior?
    So do you think the WARN Act applies?

  121. Previously Employed- I don’t have the expertise to answer your question, or the inside knowledge of what their finances were. I am sure if there was inquiries made and a class action on the part of several employees, an attorney could probably supoena that information. There is also the chance that the investigastion on the part of the state could shed some light on it…I am not sure if they were cited in violation by Washington State Unemployemnt division when they processed the layoffs. A good question would be who enforces the WARN act, and has it been investigated by them in regard to MILA? It is my opinion that the Executives knew well of their impending problems almost a year before closing the business. When you have to dip into your own pockets to keep it going,ask people to take salary reductions across the board, there are serious problems, and of course always the hope for a turn around. It seems companies like WAMU and IndyMac knew, made a plan, informed employees (some months in advance) and then put together severance packages and processed the lay offs. Like I have stated previously, if you have a seasoned, well educated HR director, who actually has experience beyond being a recuiter for most of her career, these issues and plans could have been better executed. Holly got her HR certification over a 5 day period in 2005,she clearly did not have the expereince, but it was the Executives who alowed her to proceed,and probably signed off on the plan. So it all lies with the company owners as the final decision makers. The law haas a team available to conduct/support mass layoffs as part of the support to transistion people to unemployemnt and other jobs, but MILA did not utilize that feature it seems.

    here is an phrase from the law itself:

    Roles and Responsibilities of Local Workforce Development Councils:

    The Workforce Development Councils (WDC) have the responsibility to provide rapid response services at the local level. The WDC is also responsible to notify the State DWU if the WDC or local Rapid Response Team or local partners become aware of a substantial layoff or closure event or the filing of a TAA petition.

    The WDC is responsible to maintain local Rapid Response Teams and identify a rapid response point of contact to coordinate with the State DWU. Local Rapid Response Teams, in conjunction with State Dislocated Worker Unit and the WDC, will plan for and deliver (on-site if possible) assistance for dislocation events with the employer, labor or representatives of the affected workers.

    Here is the contact information for inquiries:

    Dennis Birge
    Employment Security Department
    Workforce Investment Act – Title I-B, Dislocated Worker Office
    P.O. Box 9046 , MS 6000
    Olympia , WA 98507-9046
    Telephone: (360) 438-4022
    Fax: (360) 438-4666

  122. Previously Employed- I don’t have the expertise to answer your question, or the inside knowledge of what their finances were. I am sure if there was inquiries made and a class action on the part of several employees, an attorney could probably supoena that information. There is also the chance that the investigastion on the part of the state could shed some light on it…I am not sure if they were cited in violation by Washington State Unemployemnt division when they processed the layoffs. A good question would be who enforces the WARN act, and has it been investigated by them in regard to MILA? It is my opinion that the Executives knew well of their impending problems almost a year before closing the business. When you have to dip into your own pockets to keep it going,ask people to take salary reductions across the board, there are serious problems, and of course always the hope for a turn around. It seems companies like WAMU and IndyMac knew, made a plan, informed employees (some months in advance) and then put together severance packages and processed the lay offs. Like I have stated previously, if you have a seasoned, well educated HR director, who actually has experience beyond being a recuiter for most of her career, these issues and plans could have been better executed. Holly got her HR certification over a 5 day period in 2005,she clearly did not have the expereince, but it was the Executives who alowed her to proceed,and probably signed off on the plan. So it all lies with the company owners as the final decision makers. The law haas a team available to conduct/support mass layoffs as part of the support to transistion people to unemployemnt and other jobs, but MILA did not utilize that feature it seems.

    here is an phrase from the law itself:

    Roles and Responsibilities of Local Workforce Development Councils:

    The Workforce Development Councils (WDC) have the responsibility to provide rapid response services at the local level. The WDC is also responsible to notify the State DWU if the WDC or local Rapid Response Team or local partners become aware of a substantial layoff or closure event or the filing of a TAA petition.

    The WDC is responsible to maintain local Rapid Response Teams and identify a rapid response point of contact to coordinate with the State DWU. Local Rapid Response Teams, in conjunction with State Dislocated Worker Unit and the WDC, will plan for and deliver (on-site if possible) assistance for dislocation events with the employer, labor or representatives of the affected workers.

    Here is the contact information for inquiries:

    Dennis Birge
    Employment Security Department
    Workforce Investment Act – Title I-B, Dislocated Worker Office
    P.O. Box 9046 , MS 6000
    Olympia , WA 98507-9046
    Telephone: (360) 438-4022
    Fax: (360) 438-4666

  123. I posted along reply, and this site did receive it, but when it did not show up I tried to post it again, and it said it was a duplicate. Not sure why it has not shown up, but basically I said to look at the contact information under the WARN law and see how it applies. I am not an expert, but I am sure those who feel it was violated can request information.

  124. Previously employed- I have tried to answer you 3 times, but the blog will not post my comment, even when I try twice, it says it is a duplicate, so not sure if there is a problem. Basically I said, take a look at the WARN act, it gives conntact information and who question can be applied to (just do a google search on it) Both WAMU and Indy MAC had the same business issues with sub prime and handled their layoff much differntly, MILA out people in charge in HR, a manager who only had her certification for HR less than a year, and her main job experience was a rcruiter. Still, all decisions had to pass by the executives, so they share in the plan to terminate they way they did for the lay offs as well as everyday terminations, that were done with glee by Holly. I was part of the termination process involving someone in my group and she laughed through the whole process, which left me feeling very uncomfortable about how professional she was…at any rate everyone has a choice who they work for…

  125. mortgagegirl,

    If it had a link, sometimes the spam filter thinks it is a spam email, as most have links.

    Email me if that happens again and I’ll fish it out. I’ll go release them, but then I may have to delete the duplicates. OK?

  126. Hi mortgagegirl,

    Sorry about that. Sometimes comments get auto-tossed into the spam bin and we have to fish them out.

    The very best person to answer your WARN-related questions would be a labor law attorney. Laws can be interpreted many different ways. Lawyers who specialize in this area are paid to know the case law relevant to your questions.

    You can start here at the Bar Assoc website.

    Click on Lawyer directory, and it will bring you here:

    Under area of practice, select “labor.” With no other search parameters, there are over 400 attorneys to choose from.

  127. Libel is the written form of defamation.

    Varian v. Delfino and Day, (Santa Clara Cty, 2001). In one of the first Silicon Valley Internet libel cases to reach trial, a jury awarded $425,000 to Varian, the former employer of two disgruntled workers. The two former employees had libeled Varian executives by posting more than 14,000 defamatory messages on over 100 different websites. The jury found the defendants liable for defamation as well as misappropriation of the executives names.

    Curzon-Brown v. Lathouwers, N.D. Cal., settled Oct. 4, 2000. Two San Francisco City College professors brought a defamation suit against the webmaster of Teacher Review, a website offering anonymous reviews of teachers. Several profane and homophobic reviews of the plaintiffs were posted on the site. The plaintiffs settled the case and agreed to pay $10,000 in legal fees to the defendant amidst concerns that the court would award a higher amount to the defendant. Plaintiffs also agreed to stop posting reviews of themselves in their efforts to balance the commentary.

    The court, in reaching this conclusion, relied on a number of factors, including: 1) Public pronouncements by Prodigy that it was different from other services because it exercised efforts to control the content of what was published on its bulletin boards; 2) Prodigy’s promulgation of content guidelines; 3) Prodigy’s use of software screening programs to automatically prescreen bulletin boards for certain offensive language; and 4) Retention of Board Leaders to enforce the content guidelines with respect to particular bulletin boards. By attempting to exercise such editorial control over the content of its bulletin boards, (even though such attempts were by no means comprehensive or covering all messages posted to bulletin boards), the court held that Prodigy was subject to liability as a publisher, rather than a distributor. The decision recites that Prodigy contends that it changed its method of operation sometime after 1993.

  128. Hi Consider Libel,

    Thanks for stopping by. The case law you offered gave me a chance to do some reading.

    Comments posted here are considered opinions.

    For your reading pleasure:

    After Stratton Oakmont v Prodigy, 1995 N.Y. Misc. Lexis 229 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 24, 1995), applied the standard publisher/distributor test to find an online bulletin board liable for post by a third party,
    Congress specifically enacted 47 U.S.C. § 230 (1996) to reverse the
    Prodigy findings and to provide for private blocking and screening of
    offensive material. §230(c) states “that no provider or user of an
    interactive computer shall be treated as a publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider,” thereby providing forums immunity for statements provided by third parties.

    Thereafter, cases such as Zeran v America Online, 129 F.3d 327 (4th
    Cir. 1997), and Blumenthal v Drudge, 992 F. Supp. 44 (D.D.C. 1998), have demonstrated that although courts are expressly uneasy with applying §230, they are bound to find providers like AOL immune from defamatory postings. This immunity applies even if the providers are notified of defamatory material and neglect to remove it, due to the fact that provider liability upon notice would likely cause a flood of complaints to providers, would be a large burden on providers, and would have a chilling effect on freedom of speech on the Internet.

    In November of 2006 the California Supreme Court ruled that 47 USC § 230(c)(1) does not permit web sites to be sued for libel that was written by other parties.[12]

    One of our raincityguide attorneys wrote an excellent blog article about this topic. Here’s that link:

  129. oh yes, Lible. Layne brought that up after he let us go. It was not a suprise what so ever that we were being let go,it was inevitable. for one, i was a first touch processor. i knew there was no way they could keep up much longer.. there were NO loans. 20 people asking for loans. 3 drawer file cabinets that held 100’s loans were down 2 maybe 4. the really big insulting thing was that even though there was nothing in the fax we were still expected to do 8 files a day. And if we didn’ t we got brought into the managers office and given a warning. do you know how degrading that is? being on the “bad” list for not processing files that aren’t there? There was a comment that we were let go for surfing the web. what would you do if you sat in a cube all day and there was only maybe 2 or 3 files that took 15 minutes to process. I got an education that will serve me long after my stint with MILA. I am gratful for that. I will need that for the purchase of my own home. I don’t expect a company to keep me employed if they cant do it and stay afloat. they are in the business of making money not a charity. But the way we were let go in the hotel, told to get our boxes from the hall was disappointing. It worked out fine for me. i was able to take that time and spend with my children. i found anothe job soon and haven’t given MILA another thought until someone told me about this site. just intresting to see how things turn out.

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  132. i had a chat once with an old underwriter who had been in the mortgage business a long time. he told me this crash would come one day. the guidlines were written so that a family of four would qualify for a loan if they could prove they had 500 left over after the mortgage was paid. they would count underwrite with net income not gross or the VOE could be given by the person answering the phone number listed on the 1003. so with lax underwriting and the mountain of disclosuers that the borrowers didn’t comprehend there was trouble brewing. those old guys know a thing or two.

  133. Well life is a roller coaster.. my life is anyway.. things are good in some areas like my family is doing wonderful, work is going well, school is going well boyfriend..don’t get me started. but all in all it was a good education working with mila. i had a goal to learn about real estate becasue i knew nothing. and MILA helped me reach that goal. they gave me training and i didn’t know a thing about that industry. I am not in the mortgage lending industry, neither is anyone one else that i know. how are our poor loan officers fairing? are they all going into construction? anyone??

  134. Life does go one. Most people I could find out about have moved on to other jobs, some in the mortgage industry, some not. Holly Taylor managed to snag Luke Adamson, the fomer CIO of Nextonline Technologies, a company owned by Layne Sapp, and MILA was their only customer. They got married late in 2007, and Holly Taylor, Now Holly Adamsom is now working as a HR Manager- Strategic Programs at Avanade, Inc.No clue when Luke landed, but my best guess is that he is not working as a CIO anywhere. Joe Dahleen, former Sales Direcotr at Mila is now Sr. Vice President / Co Founder at SRG, LLC dba Go Financial Solutions. Trent Gillespie, former MILA IT Manager seems to be still unemployed and is offering himself up as an Independent IT leader (whatever that means) his title is: Available CIO / VP / IT Director, so he does not appear to be in the mortgage industry, but would be if the right offer came along.Jerry Smith the former VP and then Manager at MILA still appears to be unemployed, but then again I am not sure. If you go to you can see where MILA people landed just by putting in MILA in the search field. Interestingly enough, Mark Listerman the Director of Learning has moved to England, as Senior Programme Manager, Barclays UK Retail Bank. Sarah Hikel’s former Admin, Richard Liljedahl is now an admin at CRS Holding LLC, which is the same initials Layne used when he bought the other building in Lynwood, which are his son’s initials, so it sounds as if there is a new business being started..either that or I am mistaken and it is the Carolina Rail Service, LLC! ANyway, I hope all the valuable peopel MILA had employed have gone on to recover from the loss of their employment, trust and security. It has been a lesson in life as we have all watched others take the fall, and now the scrambling of people whose high interest loans are due trying to save their homes. I am employed and quite happily, but not in the mortgage industry. I did learn alot about the mortgage industry while at MILA, and your credit score is everything which is a good lesson in life no matter where you work, just ask Suze Orman! I also leanred a lot about people and the disappointment still lingers in the upper executive level of people at MILA, but I think you take those lessons with you no matter where you work.

  135. …I’m so taken back by the intellectual conversation in the blog! Especially, considering, this is going back almost three quarters of a year ago! I’m impressed, people.

    We’ve all known the difficulties of the “work force” since we were kids. Seen our parents go through, either jobs they loved or hated. We learned from that – one way or another. But the bottom line is this: “We work for someone else, or we work for ourselves”. The person “in charge” is always going to be who says how things go, right? Wanna blame the Hikel’s? Can you imagine how many people of their “type” are hired and fired, every day in huge companies?

    Imagine MILA as a small company with 50 people or so. Who can they compete with? Well, Apple thought that too, against Microsoft. Business is business. After working in Fortune 500 companies, MILA, etc; you learn that the “bottom line” doesn’t depend on the HR, Sales, IT, CFO (look at Starbucks today) or CEO. It’s a decision that is made to have best the affect (not effect) on the company as a whole. When you start getting as big as MILA did, things tend to happen pretty quickly – and on a much larger proportion. But the blame should never be a part of not having a job. Think of all the people (we’ve probably forgotten about) that worked at Enron. Hmmm…talk about losing a bonus you were counting on.

    Employees are a “part” of the company, to be true. But, the person or persons that started the operation to allow you to “be” an “employee” is really the bottom line (“buck stops here”). I’ve read how much you all think LS invested or did not in the company and all. But – do you really think it was just him? I’m sure he sacrificed quite a bit just to get to that point. Personally, to think he got to the point of having 600 employees that he had to let go, is more than “I” want to have the responsibility for, thank you very much. I’m pretty sure his first thought that morning was about how many people were going to impacted by his activities that day.

    My point is this: Work is Work. There are always the “things” that happen, no matter the size of your work environment. “So and so didn’t get along so they got fired”…”They slept with”…”Her skirt is too short”… With all this information being exchanged, I can’t believe that no one knew that a layoff was inevitable! I know better – if someone didn’t actually “tell” you, it was in a conversation “overheard”. Here’s a question for you ALL – do you think that when WAMU let go of all those people, 90% of them didn’t already know it was coming?

    So [off soap box], if you ever find yourself with “nothing to do but surf the net” at work…ask for more work, find another position in the company, go outside if you have to. Or – do what I did. “Join the workforce” for what it is – a place to make a lot of money. Wanna have some fun? Push yourself to look outside the box and think, “Hmm, is mortage all I know, or can I branch off into…”. Wherever you end up, it’s all about striving to be your best. It’s pretty easy to lay blame on “who did what” for the outcome of your employment. Back to the parental analogy: if your parents worked in, say the car industry in the 50’s, do you think they could lay blame on Mr. Ford for laying them off?

    As GettingPastMila said so eloquently: “I have seen high level executives recruit people from their companies because of their work style ethics and ability to accomplish certain goals.” I feel for ALL of you, have known most, and hope for ALL you! Keep on keeping on!!!

  136. Hi Mr. Perspective,

    Thanks for stopping by. Although much of what you say is good, I do want to dialogue a bit about line workers inside a corporation.

    The mortgage industry is cyclical and we rode a cycle up for the past 7 to 9 years. During that time many of Mila’s workers put in countless hours. I would imagine that there were not very many people who have visited this blogsite that had time on their hands during the boom years.

    Surely the owners of the company saw Mila’s demise coming well in advance. Any person who is a business owner knows this. To expect line workers to “know” the end is near at the same time the owners know means we’re setting expectations too high.

    What I’d really like to know is, if the company owners had to do it all over again, would they:

    1) have put aside money for severance pay for employees
    2) have given their employees more notice

    Or would they not have changed a thing.

    If I were EVER going to take a job with these former managers and owners again, buy a product from them, or believe anything they said, I would want to interview them first and find out what they learned from reading all the comments on this blog.

    Would they treat employees the same way again?

    By this I mean: Ttreating people as objects to maximize profit, and holding back information that might, perhaps, effect company profit but give employees an opportunity to prepare for the hardship of a sudden layoff.

    Perhaps I am too idealistic in thinking there could be such virtues as compassion, honesty, and respect between owners/managers and their workers.

    What do you think?

  137. Hi Mortgagegirl,

    THANKS for the detailed former-MILA watch update!

    Hi Mila-who,

    Sounds like life has stabilized and is good for you. Thanks for updating us.

    Anyone else? How are you all doing out there looking back now at where you were in April and watching the other wholesale lenders across the U.S. sink?

  138. This place is accepting resume’s for escrow work. And, to think they are still paying their staff bonuses during a time when everyone else is laying off employees is saying something.

  139. Having worked in the wholesale side of the business for years, I know first hand how bad it is to get laid off. Most recently I left New Century about 3 years before they went under. They were still making a name for themselves when I left, but I had a great deal of good friends that still worked there until the day they closed. The sadest part is that most of the people in the business kept seeking employment in the business and kept getting laid off. One guy started with and was laid off from 5 companies in the span of 4 weeks!!!!! That is not right. Companies should have some sort of accountability to their employees, instead of just treating them like a number.
    Aside from that I think the biggest problem for the displaced work force will be what type of employment will they secure that can pay them comparable wages and bonuses? Let’s be honest, the mortgage business is a great place to make money and not necessarily need a college, or for that matter a high school education. Most of the people I worked with never went to college, but were making six figures a year. That’s not to say that they were stupid or not hard workers. But traditionally you need a good education to start making the same type of money as doctors. I have a friend that is a doctor now and he was astonighed to hear how much one of his cousins made in the business, who had barely made it through high school. Where do these people go from here? Crazy thought.

  140. Company ethics is an interesting thing. Take any college business class and you spend lots of time weighing the subject. Run a business and you get a whole different perspective. Jillyane – I do not this you’re being too idealistic. Let’s face it there are unscrupulous people everywhere but I believe this is the exception – not the rule.

  141. I was just too curious, so I did a little looking at YES there is a CRS Financial LLC. I called the numbers and it seems Brian Carl works there, Barney Guy, David Swieback, Richard L. (Sarah’s old admin)
    I am not sure who else may be there, but I can venture to guess that if Brian Carl is there, Sarah and Mark would not be. Brian Carl can make just about anything happen. Anyway congratualtions to them for coming together, a great group of people if the options on the phone tree are any indication! I wish them all luck.

    Crs Financial LLC
    (425) 673-7430
    20700 44th Ave W
    Lynnwood, WA 98036

  142. Hi mortgagegirl,

    Thanks for the update!

    Former MILA employees: Please let us know how you’re doing. You had me really worried there for a while. I am hoping that many of you have transitioned on in your lives, have found employment and have established new relationships at work.

  143. I came across this, can’t believe people still post…I did a little research myself…Mark Hikel is at JB Capital in Bothell as an “advisor”
    every one lands I guess.

    Mark Hikel – Advisor
    Mr. Hikel brings over 20 years experience in mortgage and investment banking, real estate finance and capital markets. He provides guidance to the overall financial direction for the business by assisting in aligning the finances of the firm with the overall business strategy. Prior to joining Board at JB Capital, he served as the President of Mortgage Investment Lending Associates, Executive Vice President of Loraca and DMR Financial Services.

  144. Has anyone had an issue getting their w2 from MILA, as of this date I still have not recieved mine, any info?

  145. To Jerry in WI:
    They mailed the W2’s last May/June after the final absolving of the company. I think the IRS has a procedure on what to do if you can’t/didn’t/don’t get them… check (or an attorney) *wink*

  146. For: 158. mortgagegirl – February 4, 2008

    CRS Holdings has been in existence for years – I may be mistaken, but I believe it even predates MILA’s inception, or incorporation, at least. Nearly everyone knows/knew this (except you?) I’m afraid I’ll shock you with news that there’s multiple CRS LLCs – three, I believe. Last I heard NEXT/DecisionPoint was still alive and well too- that’s Laynes as well. … but you knew that, right?

    The Hikels and Sapps are friends and business partners outside of MILA – something way beyond ANY of us would have had to happen to have that relationship severed simply with the closing of MILA “that fateful day”.

    So, (basically) they didn’t really regroup or hook back up after the dust settled, they were already there. The internet is a great resource, but for the record: Just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t make it true. I’d swear that on Michelle Steinmetzers hair clip any day.

  147. Wow, MILA minion, aren’t you in the know! It is true the internet is no necessarily the “holder of all truths” but if you call the number you can see who works at: CRS Financial LLC
    (425) 673-7430
    20700 44th Ave W
    Lynnwood, WA 98036

    If memory serves me right they did not work there prior to the “fateful closing” so it may be a regroup or a re-landing of folks from old MILA. I may have no idea what the relationship is between the Hikels or the Saaps, I am sure as adults they can manage their own social lives and professional/financial lives as well. It seems you were driving a point home…as subtle as it came across. All on a “hair clip” no less!! I think everyone who ever worked at MILA has a bone to pick or a disappointment to leverage in order to make sense of the mess it made of many lives. Even in it’s success there was lots going on that had noting to do with honesty, integrity or the blame for closing. I guess bitterness is just a natural outcome of leaving MILA, and you seem to have a good dose of it, even after all this time. I wish you well, and hope you are able to move forward from your time at MILA and your need to spread the word as you see it on what the “real story

  148. hey Jerry in WI, did you ever get your w-2? I filed an extension, but still need my w-2. does anyone know who the accountants might be?

  149. Now its a good time to respond to MILA minion…of course the Saaps and HIkel are good friends..they all cooked up this scheme together…they loaded their pockets with cash, and in the HIkels case a lot of diamonds and jewelry for the ever so shrewd Ms Hikel. I think Layne referred to her as the “glue that held MILA together” All I can hope for is the laws of karma to go into effect….what goes around comes around…perhaps Layne, sitting in his mulit million dollar house, built to his ever specification..and that was after he tore down the existing mulimillion dollar house that was there…can take note, and think about what happens when greed rules your life. I kinow I sound bitter, but there were hundreds of people that lost jobs and their families put in serious financial jeprody as a result of their actions, when MILA collasped so did the well being of hundreds of people.

  150. Just thought it was of interest, that Sara Hikel is all over the internet looking for a job..just google her name, or read her over inflated view of herself….I love fiction!

    Addressing a consumer’s needs and delivering either a product or a service in easiest manner available is a combination for success. This is the reason why Sarah Hikel is revered among her peers and employees. As the Chief Operations Officer for Mortgage Investment Lending Associations, Inc., Hikel made customer satisfaction her primary goal. By addressing customers in a punctual manner, Hikel has helped to increase revenue by 100% annually during her seven-year tenure. Furthermore she increased the operating budget from $10 million to $100 million in only five years. With an exponential increase in budget, Hikel was able to raise employment from 50 employees to over 600 with $550 million in monthly funded volumes. This is a ten-fold increase that was manageable due to the system that Hikel helped to implement. Her foresight to address the needs of scalability also gave her the resources to promote the company in magazines and other publications.
    Her remarkable success can be attributed to her passion to follow all aspects of the law. Sarah Hikel understands the benefits of complying with regulations, which is creating a system of accountability and structure that helps to pinpoint contained inefficiencies and problems before they become widespread. These reassurances and proactive measures have helped her gain the trust of her peers and her subordinates.
    Furthermore, Sarah Hikel understands the importance of human resources. She has given clear career paths for her internal employees so that they have a clear purpose and goal that they will be able to achieve. If in certain cases that she does not have an employee with a certain skill set, she will bring contractors in to help ensure that operations run as smoothly as possible. These qualities have made Sarah Hikel one of the most sought after executives on the market.

  151. Alex Albergo was right… Great company! There were great people who worked inside, but there were also a few incompetent individuals, which can be found in any org.

    I find it hilarious for the brokers to make comments regarding MILAs risky business practices, but these same individuals called when they had someone they wanted to schlep with a 540 FICO into a 95LTV and ce upset when their fees were capped. How dare you, you jagoff!!!? Isn’t this why you through all of yous to New Century & Argent becaused they cheated their way to the top? At the end, its business… There was a MAJOR Need, and many companies sought to fill it. As for the person who praised Homecomings, DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE… As for the guy in TX commenting about negAm, obviously you don’t know much to state MILA was aggressive, they weren’t. WAMU was aggressive AND they damn near paid 4% on those BS loans with guidelines that were more aggressive. Thank World Savings for THAT product 20 years ago…

    Layne, open up AGAIN, I’m with you… Thanks for the opportunity to leave the LARGEST Conforming Conventional lender in The business for the opportunity to change the face of mortgage lending with Accesspoint/DecisionPoint. NEXT was TIGHT!!!

    Illinois $100 Mill BDM

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