The PrimeLending Culture: Helpful, Supportive, Enthusiastic and Dedicated

From our senior leaders to our newest hires, you’ll encounter an infectious spirit of humility, heart, integrity and purpose throughout the organization. Our culture is a cut above – you feel an innate optimism and relentless drive for success throughout our team-oriented environment.

We’ve built PrimeLending on a set of core convictions – our fundamental beliefs and practices we put into action every day to make a positive difference for our customers, partners and co-workers.

Our Core Convictions

Honesty & Integrety

Honesty & Integrity

We do the right thing, even when others aren’t looking.

People Centric

People Centric Culture

Our genuine care and concern for people guides our actions.

Agile

Agile

We embrace change with timely solutions, which gives us a competitive edge.

Service Beyond Expectations

Service Beyond Expectations

We anticipate needs and deliver superior results.

One Team, One Purpose

One Team, One Purpose

We celebrate our diversity while uniting as a team in our purpose and convictions.

Leaders Who Serve

Our leaders have set us on a course of continued growth and prosperity now and in the future. Across the board, we have assembled an unrivaled team of experts in their fields. This leadership team knows how to set priorities, clear obstacles and empower our employees to succeed.

Production Leadership - Click each picture to expand and learn more.
Karen Blakeslee - Executive Vice President, Eastern Division

Karen Blakeslee

Executive Vice President, Eastern Division

Karen Blakeslee joined PrimeLending in August 2008 as area manager, and was promoted to senior vice president, regional manager, Southeast in February 2011. She is responsible for branch production and operations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Karen has more than 10 years of experience in the mortgage industry. Before joining PrimeLending, she held positions at CTX Mortgage Company as a regional director of marketing and a division vice president. Karen supports PrimeLending's partnership with the Raleigh Area Habitat for Humanity initiative by serving as a volunteer, and is active in the North Carolina Food Bank organization.

With a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Oregon State University, she performed her graduate work in the field of instructional technology at Brigham Young University.

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Al Velasco - Executive Vice President, Western Division

Al Velasco

Executive Vice President, Western Division

Al Velasco joined PrimeLending in August 2009 as area manager. He was promoted to senior vice president, regional manager, Midwest, in December 2011, and to executive vice president — Western division, in May 2014. Al oversees branch production and operations for PrimeLending's branch offices located in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Al has more than 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry. Before joining PrimeLending, he served as the senior vice president, retail production for TCF Bank Corporation. He was also the regional area managers for CTX Mortgage Company and chief operating officer for Hometown Mortgage, a division of Klein Bank.

He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communication and political science from Bethel University.

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Brad Arendt - Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Southeast

Brad Arendt

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Southeast

Brad is responsible for leading and supporting the PrimeLending branches in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Northern Florida, and Central and Eastern Tennessee.

Brad has been with PrimeLending for almost 9 years and has been the branch manager for the Raleigh group for the last 6 years. During his tenure, Brad has had a significant impact on building PrimeLending’s North Carolina presence, with his branches consistently finishing in the top 5 nationally in volume, units and profitability.

Brad is a multiple Chairman’s Club Power Producer, and he is someone who always strives to exhibit PrimeLending’s core convictions and exceptional leadership.

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Brian Chick - Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Midwest

Brian Chick

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Midwest

Brian joined PrimeLending in 2010. In his current role, he oversees branch production and operations for branch locations in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas. Brian has more than 13 years of experience in the mortgage lending industry. Previously, he worked as a loan officer for Bank of America.

Brian received his Bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University. He currently resides in Missouri with his wife of 20 years and 3 children.

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Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Mid-America

Bret Head

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Mid-America

With more than 23 years of mortgage lending experience, Bret Head joined PrimeLending as an area manager in September 2010 after a successful career with Bank of America. Bret was given the direct charge to grow Indiana and Ohio into a region. Today, the region consists of Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Michigan. During his tenure, Bret has built a quality, compliant sales organization focused on purchase lending.

Bret holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Anderson University. He is an active member of the Ohio Mortgage Bankers Association and the Indiana Board of Realtors. He resides in Kokomo, Indiana, with his wife and two daughters.

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Eric Hofstetter - Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Mid-Atlantic

Eric Hoftstetter

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Mid-Atlantic

Eric Hofstetter joined PrimeLending in 2009 as an area manager for the Mid-Atlantic and in 2012, he was promoted to vice president, Mid-Atlantic region area manager. In January 2015, Eric was promoted to senior vice president, regional manager for the Mid-Atlantic region. In this role, Eric is responsible for branch production and operations in the Mid-Atlantic, which includes Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.

Eric has more than 11 years of experience in the mortgage industry. Before joining PrimeLending, he held senior management positions at National City Mortgage, AT&T and Lucent Technologies. He works out of PrimeLending's office in Timonium, Maryland.

Eric earned a master's degree in business administration and finance from Loyola University Maryland.

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Kelly Lee - Executive Vice President, Western Division

Kelly Lee

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Pacific Northwest

Kelly Lee joined PrimeLending in November 2014 as senior vice president, regional manager, Pacific Northwest. He is responsible for branch production and operations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Kelly offices out of PrimeLending’s “Lake O” branch in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Before joining PrimeLending, Kelly served as vice president of sales and executive vice president for a regional mortgage company, where he managed operations including warehouse lines and investor relationships

With more than 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry, Kelly has mentored leaders and sales teams to guide them to the highest level of success and achievement.

He earned a Bachelor of Science from Oregon State University.

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Mike McCormick - Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Northern California

Mike McCormick

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Northern California

Mike has over 25 years of mortgage lending and real estate experience. He joined PrimeLending in December of 2015 after working for Wachovia and Union Bank for more than 21 years.

He is a licensed real estate broker and licensed real estate appraiser, and he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Chico State University in California. He also attended the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington.

Mike currently resides in Walnut Creek, California with his wife and the youngest of his three children.

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Dawn Robinson - Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Southwest Region

Dawn Robinson

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Southwest Region

Dawn joined PrimeLending, a PlainsCapital company, in 1999 and gained experience as an assistant loan officer and processor and, in time, a loan officer.

Dawn excelled in her earlier positions and soon was appointed as the vice president of secondary marketing/products where she provided leadership in the areas of hedging warehouse lending and investor relations. Proving that she was an asset to the organization, Dawn was promoted to senior vice president, Texas regional manager, where she oversaw a state producing more than $3 billion in sales. In August 2014, Dawn was promoted to senior vice president, regional manager, Southwest. She is responsible for branch production and operations in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Dawn earned the distinction of receiving the James M. Wooten Scholarship for participation in the MBA's Future Leaders Program, and she made the National Mortgage Professional magazine's "40 Under Forty" list in 2010. She has also participated in the Masters' Coach Program through Building Champions. She was recognized as one of the "2013 Most Influential Mortgage Executives" by Mortgage Executive magazine.

Dawn has a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in entrepreneurship and finance from Southern Methodist University.

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Cathy Stroud - Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Central

Cathy Stroud

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Central

Cathy Stroud joined PrimeLending in August 2014 as senior vice president, regional manager, Midwest. She is responsible for branch production and operations in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma and Utah.

Before joining PrimeLending, Cathy served as the central region vice president at HomeBridge Financial Services, Inc. Prior to that, she was a regional vice president at Cornerstone Home Lending as well as executive vice president of the central region at CTX Mortgage.

With more than 32 years of experience in the mortgage industry, Cathy has mentored leaders and sales teams to guide them to the highest level of success and achievement, in addition to reaching high levels of funding volume growth throughout her career.

As a resident of Denver, Cathy is actively involved with the Colorado chapter of the Mortgage Bankers Association, having served as president and a member of the board's executive committee. She earned her bachelor's degree from Colorado State University.

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Mike Watkinson - Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Northeast

Mike Watkinson

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Northeast

Mike Watkinson joined PrimeLending in 2013 as senior vice president, regional manager, Northeast. He is responsible for branch production and operations in New England, New York, New Jersey and western Pennsylvania.

Mike brings to PrimeLending a strong leadership background with over 25 years of industry experience. Before joining PrimeLending, he served as Senior Vice President at Embrace Home Loans, Regional Sales Executive for Bank of America, District Manager for National City Mortgage and State Manager/Private Mortgage Banking for Citizens Bank.

He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in industrial technology from Rhode Island College.

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Brandon Watson - Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Southern Coastal

Brandon Watson

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Southern Coastal

Brandon joined PrimeLending in 2015, serving as the area manager for the Central and South Florida markets. During his time with PrimeLending, Brandon has increased the PrimeLending presence and reputation and has served as a strong ambassador of the culture and core convictions.

In 2017, Brandon took on the leadership responsibilities for Southern Coastal, which includes all of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Memphis, as well as the Central and South Florida markets. Brandon currently resides in South Florida.

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Ken Whisler - Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, South Texas

Ken Whisler

Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, South Texas

Ken Whisler joined PrimeLending in June 2009. In his current role, he oversees branch production and operations for branch locations in Austin, Houston, Waco, and San Antonio, along with various markets along the Texas coast and Rio Grande Valley.

Ken initially joined PrimeLending as a branch manager, and he held positions in multiple markets before assuming his current role. He has more than 15 years of experience in the mortgage lending industry. Previously, Ken worked as a loan officer for Wells Fargo as well as a branch manager for GMAC and Chase.

He is actively involved in the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association, having previously received the TMBA Wooten Scholarship. He is also a graduate of the National MBA Future Leaders program. Additionally, he was named a top-producing branch manager and area Manager for PrimeLending in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Ken graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting.

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Strategic Leadership - Click each picture to expand and learn more.
Todd Salmans - Chairman & CEO

Todd Salmans

Chairman & CEO

Todd Salmans joined PrimeLending in January 2006 as executive vice president and chief operating officer. He was promoted to president in January 2009, and he assumed chief executive officer responsibilities in January 2011. He is responsible for the strategic direction of the company.

With more than 36 years of mortgage banking experience, Todd has held senior level sales and executive management positions for top regional and national mortgage lenders, such as Chase Home Mortgage Corporation, First Union National Bank/First Union Mortgage Corporation, and CTX Mortgage Company.

He serves as a member of the PlainsCapital Corporation board of directors, is a member of the board of directors for the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association, and he is an American Bankers Association Mortgage Origination Committee member. Todd was recognized as one of the "2013 Most Influential Mortgage Executives" and the "2012 CEO of the Year" by Mortgage Executive magazine, an award based on company production, growth rate, reputation and overall integrity. He also attended Kansas State College of Pittsburg.

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Steve Thompson - Executive Vice President, National Production Manager

Steve Thompson

Executive Vice President, National Production Manager

Steve Thompson joined PrimeLending in June 2011 as senior vice president, regional manager, Mountain West. In October 2012, Steve was promoted to executive vice president, Western division. As of Sept. 1, 2013, Steve was promoted to executive vice president, national production manager.

Before joining PrimeLending, he held senior management positions at GMAC Mortgage, including senior vice president/national retail production director and senior vice president/West division sales manager of retail. Steve has more than 27 years of experience building and leading successful retail production teams throughout the Western U.S. He was recognized as one of the "2013 Most Influential Mortgage Executives" by Mortgage Executive magazine.

He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of California, Irvine.

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Kristi Harris - Executive Vice President, National Operations

Kristi Harris

Executive Vice President, National Operations

Kristi Harris joined PrimeLending in 1996. As executive vice president of national operations, she is responsible for underwriting, closing, post closing, investor delivery and product development. She and her team support a national branch network with a physical presence in 42 states.

Kristi has more than 25 years of mortgage industry experience and has held numerous roles during her tenure within the mortgage industry, including leadership roles in processing and underwriting. Kristi is a member of the PrimeLending executive management team.

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Scott Eggen - Executive Vice President, Director Capital Markets

Scott Eggen

Executive Vice President, Director Capital Markets

Scott Eggen joined PrimeLending in March 2001 as senior vice president, capital markets. In October 2012, Scott was promoted to executive vice president, director capital markets. He is responsible for secondary marketing functions, risk management, mortgage loan programs, pricing and investor relations.

Scott has more than 30 years of experience in mortgage banking and finance. He served as senior vice president of marketing for the Heigl Mortgage & Financial Corporation, and was the owner/managing partner of Realty Mortgage Corporation. Scott also served as managing partner of the Eggen Group, which managed proprietary trading of both fixed income and equity markets.

Scott serves as a public speaker for the Mortgage Bankers Association and Texas Mortgage Bankers Association. He has a business finance degree from Normandale College and a business education degree from St. Cloud State University.

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Keith Klein - Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer

Keith Klein

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer

Keith Klein joined PrimeLending in May 2007 as chief financial officer. He was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer in January 2011. He works directly with managers responsible for servicing, compliance, quality control, risk management and leasing/facilities.

Before joining PrimeLending, he was senior vice president of forecasting/benchmarking and corporate initiatives at National City Mortgage. Prior to that, he was the senior vice president and controller of Accubanc Mortgage. Keith has more than 20 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry

Keith is a certified public accountant (CPA), and serves as secretary and treasurer on the PrimeLending Board of Directors. Keith is a graduate of Texas State University at San Marcos.

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Tim Elkins - Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer

Tim Elkins

Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer

Tim Elkins joined PrimeLending in November of 2008 as chief information officer. He is responsible for information security, IT operations and technology initiatives.

Tim has more than 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry. Prior to joining PrimeLending, he served as chief information officer at AmericaHomeKey and BSM Financial.

Tim is the chair of the Residential Technology Forum (RESTECH) for the Mortgage Bankers Association. Additionally, working with fellow CIOs from other industry-leading brands as well as senior staff from CIO.com and the Harvard Business Review, Tim is a member of the Enterprisers Editorial Board.

In 2012 and 2013, Tim was honored as one of the Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leaders and led his team to being selected as a CIO 100 recipient for their innovation in the mortgage industry.

Tim has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance from Texas Tech University.

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Eric Pretzlaff - Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Eric Pretzlaff

Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Eric Pretzlaff joined PrimeLending in August 2011 as senior vice president, chief financial officer. He is responsible for all aspects of financial management and reporting for the company.

Before joining PrimeLending, Eric served as internal audit director for Centex Corporation until transferring to Centex's wholly owned mortgage company, CTX Mortgage Company, where he later served as controller. Following Pulte Homes' acquisition of Centex in 2009, he assumed the role of controller for Pulte's wholly owned title company, PGP Title.

Eric spent the first 10 years of his career in the Dallas audit practice of Price Waterhouse.

Eric graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Central Michigan University and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.

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Cindy S. Buhr - Executive Vice President, General Counsel

Cindy S. Buhr

Executive Vice President, General Counsel

Cindy Buhr joined PrimeLending in July 2010. As executive vice president and general counsel, Cindy oversees the legal department.

From April 2009 to June 2010, Cindy was the vice president and assistant general counsel for PlainsCapital Corporation. Prior to that, she spent 11 years with Southwest Airlines Co., serving as associate general counsel.

Before going in-house, Cindy was a litigation associate in Dallas with the law firms of Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal (1993 – 1998) and Johnson & Gibbs (1990 – 1993).

Cindy is a 1990 honors graduate from Southern Methodist University School of Law, where she served on Law Review (Journal of Air Law and Commerce). She earned a BBA in accounting with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin. Cindy is licensed in Texas and is a member of a number of local and national industry and bar associations. She is also active in various civic and community organizations.

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Dudley Strawn - Executive Vice President, Human Resources

Dudley Strawn

Executive Vice President, Human Resources

As executive vice president, human resources, Dudley Strawn oversees the HR function, including recruiting, on-boarding, talent management, payroll and employee relations.

Dudley brings a wealth of experience in human resources and the mortgage industry, having served in several human resources roles at Fairway Independent Mortgage, MetLife Home Loans and First Horizon National Corporation.

He has a Master of Arts degree in communications from the University of Memphis.

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Susie Garza - Executive Vice President, Director of Enterprise Risk Management

Susie Garza

Executive Vice President, Director of Enterprise Risk Management

Susie Garza joined PrimeLending in 2006 as assistant vice president, production management. In 2009, she was promoted to senior vice president, director of human resources/compliance, and she most recently served as senior vice president, risk officer.

Today, Susie serves as executive vice president, director of enterprise risk management, and is responsible for proactively managing and mitigating risks that could impact PrimeLending's ability to achieve its business objectives and strategic goals.

Susie has more than 17 years of experience in the mortgage lending industry. Before joining PrimeLending, she served as assistant vice president of regional operations and vice president of joint venture relationships at CTX Mortgage Company.

Susie is active in the Dallas Mortgage Bankers Association. She also supports PrimeLending's partnership with the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity initiative by serving as a volunteer.

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Gene M. Lugat - Executive Vice President, National Industry and Political Relations

Gene M. Lugat

Executive Vice President, National Industry and Political Relations

Gene M. Lugat joined PrimeLending, A PlainsCapital Company as Senior Vice President, Regional Production Manager for the Mid-Atlantic Region in 2009. In October 2012, he was promoted to Executive Vice President of the Eastern Division/National Industry and Political Relations with responsibility for production for all 28 states east of the Mississippi. In 2017, he took on additional executive leadership responsibilities representing PrimeLendings’ government affairs and industry policies in Washington, DC.

As a respected and distinguished professional, Gene is a highly sought after keynote speaker. He recently served on the National MBA’s MORPAC Committee as a board member for the 2015/2016 election cycles. In January 2017, he was appointed Chairman of the National MBA’s Mortgage Action Alliance Committee for the 2017/2018 cycles.

A veteran with over thirty years of experience in the mortgage industry, Gene brings a wealth of business acumen and proven leadership expertise to his role. He served the Maryland Mortgage Bankers Association as its 52nd President in 2001, and has been a board member for the past 22 years. In 2006, he was named “Maryland Mortgage Banker of the Year” by the MDMBA. Gene is a MBA’s Future Leaders Program graduate class of 2000.

Gene is a graduate of Shepherd University and a member of its Athletic Hall of Fame. He is happily married and the proud father of three young men.

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