Big Business in the high Sierra
Walk into the second floor offices of ClearCapital in the Donner Building at the Pioneer Commerce Center in Truckee and you’ll find a company unlike any other in the region.
While most of the businesses in the area cater to the needs of tourists or locals, ClearCapital does business with over 16,000 real estate professionals across the country, and many of the largest mortgage companies in the nation.
“One hundred percent of our revenue comes from outside Truckee, so we’re not just recycling money through the town,” said Kevin Marshall, chief information officer and, along with Duane Andrews, co-founder of ClearCapital.
In a nutshell, the company provides broker price opinions and property inspections – services essentially equivalent to home appraisals but that cost less to conduct – to large banks and other institutions that buy and sell large blocks of mortgages.
ClearCapital acts as a middleman between a network of more than 16,000 local real estate agents and brokers all over the country who understand what houses are worth in their region and the large financial institutions that need accurate pricing guidelines when they are trying to put a price tag on their holdings.
Both Marshall and T.J. Kelly, the vice president in charge of marketing, admit that they have a hard time explaining exactly what they do to most non-industry people. But what surprises many of the clients they work with in the mortgage industry is how a company such as theirs is operating out of a town like Truckee.
Why they’re here
While most of their competition is located in cities that serve as national or regional financial hubs, founders Andrews and Marshall chose to set up shop in Truckee because of the people and the environment.
Originally the company had two offices, one in Truckee and one in the Bay Area, but it wasn’t long before the founders noticed that the Truckee customer service representatives were developing better relationships with their clients than their Bay Area equivalents. Andrews and Marshall decided that it was time to close the Bay Area office and moved the entire operation up to Truckee in December 2003, a decision that has worked well for everyone involved, they said.
“Truckee attracts a lot of smart, well-educated folks, but the town doesn’t offer a lot of jobs for them,” Kelly said.
So far the company has attracted 32 full-time employees from Truckee, Lake Tahoe, and as far away as Reno and Auburn. Marshall said he expects to have 45 to 50 employees by the end of the year.
The growth of the company, the founders said, has been built on the solid customer service they provide both the financial institutions and the individual brokers/agents that they deal with.
“It’s hilarious how good of a relationship some of these guys have with the brokers we deal with,” said Marshall of his customer support staff.
Kelly, a Truckee native, said much of that is due to employees who are happy to have a career-oriented job rather than the seasonal or temporary positions that are available in many of the other industries in the region.
One look around ClearCapital’s Truckee office and you get the impression that this isn’t your average local company. Bright colors and modern office furniture accent the open floor plan, and employees chat back and forth when they are not on the phone or working in front of the two large computer monitors each service representative has on his or her desk.
It may be the most high-tech office in Truckee, and as Marshall points out, “If you walk around here, there’s not a lot of paper flying around.”
Indeed, while customer service is the company’s top priority, the technology platform that Marshall and his development team have put together in the middle of the Sierra Nevada has allowed the company to deliver their services on time and in a highly efficient manner to real estate professionals and mortgage institutions nationwide.
“I love coming to work, looking outside and seeing the snow fall, and realizing that we’re providing a compelling service to people across the country,” Marshall said.
For more information on ClearCapital, check out the company’s Web site at http://www.ClearCapital.com.
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