The central role that robust relationships play in long-term success is unparalleled, as Chris Gassel, strategic sales specialist at LBA Ware, can attest.

Gassel pointed to the foundations that his mother has set as the initial drive that pushed him towards the mortgage space.

“My mother was in the mortgage business for over 25 years and constantly hounded me to leave commercial real estate and get into the business. I never really gave it any consideration during the time,” Gassel said. “Almost seven years ago to the day, my mother passed away from stage four cancer.  She was so passionate about me getting into mortgage still that she made me promise her while in hospice that I would get into the business. A few years later when I was looking for a career change, I knew exactly what I was going to do and haven’t looked back since.”

Another vital relationship that shaped Gassel’s path to success was the one he had with his mentor during his earliest days working in a top originator in his hometown. Gassel said that he still talks to this mentor “regularly despite not working for that company anymore.”

“When I really started jumping into origination was probably the [most challenging] time,” Gassel said. “Interest rates skyrocketed, the small refi boom was ending, and the inventory in my market was getting smaller and smaller so my borrowers struggled to find homes to purchase.”

It was during this period that Gassel cultivated the other vital relationships that helped him through the toughest times of his career.

“Despite the challenges, I took the time to invest in marketing myself, networking, and creating educational videos to publish online,” Gassel said. “While I didn’t hit my goals in my first year, I crushed them in year two with all the hard work I did in year one. That hard work and networking led me to the opportunity I currently have today with LBA Ware, and my expectations for this company have been crushed. Excellent culture, supportive team mentality, and we are growing like crazy. I couldn’t be happier.”

Gassel said that he didn’t restrict himself to building links solely with other industry professionals – a decision that he said directly cultivated his knowledge base.

“I focused on divorce attorneys, financial advisors, trust attorneys, etc., and I made myself available as an information resource which then turned into those sources sending me referrals,” Gassel said. “I took great pride in meeting with underwriters, secondaries, and all department heads for lunch to get a deeper understanding of the loan process and how I could make the experience better for my clients by doing more work up front than a typical lender would. All my free time was spent memorizing underwriting guidelines, investor matrices, and new loan products that came out so if a problem were to arise or someone got turned down by another lender that I would feel confident in knowing there would be another way to get a deal done.”

“I took on a lot of stressful and hard to close deals, but that is why people started to trust me above others and my knowledge put me above the rest. I have my mentor to thank for that advice early in my career.”