Category Archives: News

CIVIC Lends Support To Victims Of Hurricane Harvey

September 19, 2017 – Following the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, CIVIC Financial Services, Wedgewood’s private money lending affiliate, held a company-wide relief effort to lend support and supplies to evacuees.

CIVIC, headquartered in Redondo Beach, CA closed all operations on September 14th to join together and give back to the Houston community.  CIVIC’s 100+ employees joined together for the assembly of 1,000 Dignity Backpacks for Hurricane Harvey evacuees.  Each backpack includes essential supplies including towels, socks, toiletry items and snacks – along with a note of support and encouragement.

The Dignity Backpacks have been delivered to evacuees at the BakerRipley Emergency Shelter at NRG Center in Houston, which is currently serving Texans from more than 100 cities in sixteen languages.

“Each backpack symbolizes the strength to carry on,” said William J. Tessar, CIVIC’s President and CEO. “Even though the sun is shining and the cameras are gone, people are still displaced and it truly is our CIVIC Duty to step up and give back in this time of need.”

BakerRipley is a non-profit organization providing a wide range of community-based programs in Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast.  After the flood waters from Harvey recede, they are responsible for assistance with long-term recovery. Angela Blanchard, BakerRipley’s President and CEO, was just awarded the prestigious Heinz Award, and Civic Financial Services is beyond proud to be contributing to their NRG Center shelter operation.

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CIVIC FINANCIAL SERVICES is a private money lender, specializing in the financing of non-owner occupied investment properties. CIVIC was created by its parent companies, Wedgewood and HMC Assets LLC, to serve investors who don’t fit traditional lending criteria.  Wedgewood and HMC, two of the most respected names in residential real estate, provide CIVIC with unparalleled valuation expertise in the real estate vertical as well as access to low-cost capital. With these resources, CIVIC is able to keep all operations in-house so loans are managed more closely, quickly, and efficiently. For more information on CIVIC private lending, visit www.CIVICfs.com or call 877-472-4842.

CIVIC Hires Champion of Simplicity

Redondo Beach, CA, May 16, 2017 – CIVIC Financial Services has hired efficiency expert and creative leader, Merced Cohen, to direct the company’s operations. After spending the last 10 years deconstructing and relentlessly improving the loan process at Skyline Financial Corporation, Ms. Cohen has joined CIVIC as the Director of Operations with a plan to tackle a new frontier: private money lending.

Prior to joining CIVIC, Ms. Cohen served as Executive Vice President of Operations at Skyline Financial Corporation. During her 10-year tenure, she conquered the complexity inherent to lending operations by eliminating redundancies, implementing technology-focused solutions, and effectively measuring the tangible and intangible metrics essential to the company’s operations, which was key to the company’s growth from $40M per month to just under $4B annually. She was nicknamed “the heartbeat” of Skyline for her leadership implementing a daily communication rhythm that connected all 600 employees to the message at the top of the organization and allowed the company to pulse faster across its 47 branches.

CIVIC, a private money lender with just 4 years of business under its belt, is at a perfect point to benefit from Ms. Cohen’s leadership and operations expertise. In addition, she is joining forces with longtime trusted colleague from Skyline, William J. Tessar.

Tessar, CIVIC’s newly-appointed President, said “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Merced for more than a decade, and her creative approach to operations, inspirational leadership style, and relentless pursuit for simplicity makes her a vital part of the business. She has experience on the sales side, which provides a valuable perspective that few operations leaders share. This enhances her ability to consistently cut through the noise of lending operations to arrive at a simpler solution. These things, coupled with her ability to develop talent, make her the best in the industry. I can’t imagine anyone else scaling CIVIC’s operations.”

Since joining CIVIC in March 2017, Ms. Cohen has had a few weeks to reflect on her decision and new environment: “When I first stepped into CIVIC’s office, its immense potential was breathtaking. The combination of the vast resources created by Wedgewood‘s vertically-integrated fix and flip business and HMC‘s NPL acquisition expertise alongside CIVIC’s access to low-cost capital make it the biggest opportunity I’ve seen in my 30+ years of lending. Beyond that, there’s the people, the amazing people!  The unique blend of seasoned industry experts with younger professionals new to the industry helps us approach the business with a fresh perspective.  All of this creates a culture and environment to ‘Think Outside the Bank’, develop future leaders, and lay the foundation for CIVIC to disrupt the private equity space.”

Wedgewood’s 2016 Solar Savings

As part of our commitment to the community, during our building’s construction, we installed a large solar rooftop and carport panel system at our headquarters.  Today, it provides 77% of our building’s electrical needs and powers 28 electric car charging stations.  In addition to all of this, two days a week we pump our excess electrical power back into the grid.  Not only did we save $119,224 on our electric bill, but the 2016 savings in greenhouse gas emissions is equivalent to 136 cars driven for one year!

 

Wedgefest III 2017

March 31, 2017 – On Cesar Chavez Day, Wedgewood employee volunteers arrived at Loren Miller Elementary School in South Los Angeles to add some color and beauty to its largely blank and sometimes vandalized walls.  Working with local artists, the Wedgewood team completed four new murals, rejuvenated a fifth mural that had been defaced, and added some new plants and paint to a faded garden courtyard, bringing new life and cheer to the school.  Along with the murals, Wedgewood employees donated sports equipment for the playground and re-stocked the school’s library with popular and classic children’s books.

Julio Hanson, Assistant Principal at Loren Miller submitted the request for new murals to Sharefest, a South Bay nonprofit that facilitates positive change by connecting companies that want to give back with community needs.  Julio was surprised and delighted to learn that his application had been approved.  He said, “I’m always looking for ways to brighten the school experience.  I apply for many things, many grants, many projects.  This is one of the things that I applied for to which I actually received a response! Wedgewood stepped up, sending over 100 volunteers on the Cesar Chavez holiday to help deck out my school.”

Chad Mayer, Executive Director of Sharefest, said, “We are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from Wedgewood. You all continue to dig deep, roll up your sleeves and meet real and tangible needs in our community. I am forever grateful to have this wonderful partnership, and there’s no doubt that you all will put smiles on the faces of hundreds of children come Monday morning.”

Wedgewood is also thankful for our partnership with Sharefest.  “I know the community benefits from our projects, but when you see the joy on our employees’ faces and hear their stories back at the office, I know who gets the better end of that trade”, says Greg Geiser, Founder, President and CEO of Wedgewood.  “We’re just trying to plant a forest, one tree at a time, and we look forward to participating in many more community improvement projects with Sharefest in the future.”

Time Lapse Video of a Hallway Mural:  https://youtu.be/muzY0Qs1aMw

 

CIVIC Hires Visionary Lending Leader

Redondo Beach, CA, April 13, 2017 – CIVIC Financial Services is thrilled to announce its latest acquisition, a new CEO.  William J. Tessar, most recently with Skyline Financial Corporation, joined CIVIC as its new President and CEO in March.

Tessar comes to CIVIC with more than 30 years of mortgage experience and a track record of successfully growing lending operations. Prior to CIVIC, he founded and served as President at three lending companies. Capital Line, one of his companies, was recognized as a top originating brokerage in the state of California. In 2007, Capital Line merged with Skyline Home Loans, and Tessar was named President of Retail Lending. In his 10 years at Skyline, he scaled the organization from a retail mortgage company funding $40M per month into a multi-channel originator with $3.5B funded annually.

Now CIVIC will be the beneficiary of Bill’s expertise in building and leading teams.  CIVIC, a private money lender that has grown from start-up to lending leader in just four years, is at the perfect point in its lifecycle to benefit from Bill’s leadership.

Jim Helfrich, Co-Founder and Partner of CIVIC, said “Bill’s leadership, talent and history of success has already made him a key addition to the CIVIC family. His vision and execution track record is exactly what CIVIC needs as we enter our next chapter.  His appointment is a sign of our commitment to being the leading company in our industry.”

In assessing CIVIC’s market position and potential, Tessar saysPrivate equity lending is a $50B industry, and the top 10 lenders in the space account for only 10% of that, so it’s an extremely fragmented, inefficient space.” Having recruited and trained more than 500 loan officers over his 30-year career in lending, Bill will focus on streamlining the loan process and making the sales and operations teams work cohesively. “Our customers will see the immediate benefits of streamlined processes that result in flawless execution and superior service” says Tessar.

CIVIC was created by its parent companies, Wedgewood and HMC Assets LLC, to serve investors who don’t fit traditional lending criteria.  Wedgewood and HMC, two of the most respected names in residential real estate, provide CIVIC with unparalleled real estate valuation expertise as well as access to low-cost capital. With these resources, CIVIC is able to keep all operations in-house so loans are managed more closely, quickly, and efficiently.

In making the decision to join CIVIC, Tessar says “the combination of Wedgewood’s vertically-integrated fix and flip business and HMC’s prowess in non-performing loan acquisition makes CIVIC the biggest mortgage opportunity I’ve seen in the last 30 years of lending. CIVIC has access to some of the lowest cost of capital in the industry due to the fact that we de-lever risk in a unique, proprietary way while being best-in-class on valuation as well as a market leader in default resolution.”

Couple that with competitive rates, customer-centric core values, lightning-quick funding and now superior leadership under Bill Tessar, CIVIC is poised to become the premier private money lender in the country.

 

Helping A Veteran Get His Home Back

Out in the field, our Relocation team is Wedgewood’s first line of interaction with those most directly affected by foreclosure.  When one of our Relocation Specialists knocks on the door of a recently foreclosed home, he or she has no idea what to expect.  Our team doesn’t know the current occupant’s situation or if they are even aware of the recent foreclosure.  Regardless, it is the Specialist’s job to approach each situation with kindness and respect for the individuals or families involved and to help them take the next necessary step with their housing situation.

Our Relocation team in the Los Angeles area recently showed the kind of heart that makes the Wedgewood approach different from most in this line of business.  When knocking on the door of a recently foreclosed home bought at auction, our Relo Specialist learned that the occupant was a veteran, had been in and out of the hospital since being discharged from the armed services, and had been in the process of receiving assistance from Keep Your Home California (KYHC) and the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program (MRAP) when his bank foreclosed on his home and sold it at auction.

Fortunately, Wedgewood is well versed with the Hardest Hit Fund of which KYHC is a part and knew what was and was not possible with the program.   Upon receiving documentation from the occupant showing proof of everything he had stated, our Relocation Department reached out to the Trustee.  Through cooperation between Wedgewood and the Trustee, the foreclosure sale was rescinded, allowing the homeowner more time to finalize his KYHC transaction and get current with his mortgage payments.

When we spoke with the homeowner, he said, “Please tell everyone at Wedgewood ‘thank you’.  Your willingness to help me and my family shows how your company doesn’t just look at lot numbers.  You look at the families and take the time to help them.”

The job of a Relocation Specialist is a difficult one.  In the midst of a tumultuous time for the occupant, our Specialists need to be firm but kind, efficient but empathetic.  This approach is the essence of the Wedgwood way, taking care of business and families in a conscientious manner.  We appreciate that our employees take the time to listen and make a difference in the lives of those effected by foreclosure.

Wedgefest II 2016

On Friday, September 9, 2016, Wedgewood completed its second Wedgefest project of the year.  Partnering once again with Sharefest, a South Bay nonprofit that facilitates positive change by connecting companies with community needs, Wedgewood took on a very ambitious project – a two-week total home makeover for a very deserving member of the Wilmington community.

The project kicked off officially on August 25th when Sharefest and Wedgewood united to surprise Salvador Lara and his family with the gift of a home renovation in recognition of his boundless service to the community.  With just two weeks to get the project completed, the construction team began work that very same day.

A longtime Wilmington resident, Lara launched the Clean Wilmington program in 2007 because he was concerned about his community’s degraded condition.  As project manager, Lara recruits, organizes, and supervises the cleanup projects, bringing together hundreds of community volunteers.  Every year, the Clean Wilmington team removes over one hundred tons of weeds and illegally-dumped items. The result is a more beautiful city and civic pride for the Wilmington residents.

To celebrate the contributions of Salvador Lara, several dignitaries of the city and state were present for the reveal of the Lara home renovation, including Joe Buscaino, 15th District Councilman of Los Angeles, and Isadore Hall, 35th District California State Senator.  Councilman Buscaino said, “It is our honor and privilege to pay it forward to Salvador Lara and say thank you for all that you have done to improve the quality of life here in Wilmington.”

Greg Geiser, President and CEO of Wedgewood, first thanked the Wedgewood employees, suppliers, and company reps.  “This project cost approximately $56,000, over half of that cost was donated by our suppliers and reps and countless hours by our Wedgewood office.”  He followed that up with a tribute to Salvador Lara.  “We all like to believe that good things to happen to good people.  We need that to be true.  And today, it is.”

Salvador Lara’s son, Juan, also talked about hard work and positivity when describing the values that his dad instilled in him.  “When my father started [the Clean Wilmington program]…people would ask him, why are you doing this?  You’re doing this for free?  The juice isn’t worth the squeeze…  And now I see that there is something invaluable that my father gets out of this.  It’s the people you meet doing things like this.  To know that there are good people out there, that contribute, that want to make an impact on the world.  That’s invaluable.”

Jamie Bedner who worked with Sharefest to come up with this project and managed it from concept to finish said, “This project would not have been possible without the Wedgewood Dream Team.  That’s what I call our team of employees and suppliers.  They worked tirelessly to pull this together and make it happen in just two weeks.”

The actual home renovation was completed by a smaller team of Wedgewood employees and suppliers.  To provide an opportunity for the whole company to give back, Jamie expanded the scope of the September 9th ribbon cutting with a Clean Wilmington day of service.  Wedgewood’s management team nominated six team leaders (Kerry Versellie, Ryan Chapin, Megan Menjou, Monika Drozd, Jessica Maciel, and Jen Scott) whose job it was to coordinate the 90 Wedgewood employees who turned out to take on six different beautification projects in the Wilmington neighborhood – projects selected and scoped by Salvador Lara himself.  Wedgewood employees picked up trash, disposed of illegally dumped bulky items, and landscaped throughout the city.

The day culminated at the Lara house with the unveiling of Salvador’s new home and a block party with music and food for the entire neighborhood to enjoy.

WATCH THE VIDEO THAT CAPTURES IT ALL:

VIEW MEDIA COVERAGE:

LA OPINION – Este latino limpiaba las calles de Wilmington gratis, hasta que recibió una grata sorpresa

Lara Home Ribbon Cutting New Kitchen Lara Home Reveal

Wedgewood employees #CleanWilmington

Wedgewood employees #CleanWilmington

Media Statement In Response to ACCE

August 15, 2016 – Wedgewood issued the following statement today in response to the Alliance for Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) desire for media attention over helping a San Bernardino County couple save their home.

Wedgewood is enormously disappointed that despite the company’s sincere good-faith efforts, ACCE, a group representing the Caamal family has unilaterally decided to pursue its own agenda to the detriment of the Caamal’s, thereby denying them the ability to again assume ownership of the home.

The issues with ownership of the home began in 2015 when Wells Fargo foreclosed on the Caamal’s property for failing to make more than $140,000 in mortgage payments over a three-year period of time. Wedgewood then legally purchased the home at auction and remodeled and upgraded the property.

Since then, Wedgewood and the Caamals have discussed reasonable ways for the Caamals to keep their property and recently agreed to a purchase price of $375,000 which is $75,000 less than their original purchase price, $80,000 under market price, and $215,000 less than what the Caamals owed when Wells Fargo foreclosed on their property. This generous agreement was rejected by ACCE over a “non-disparagement” clause, which would have restricted all parties, including Wedgewood, from taking any action that negatively impacted the reputation of any of the other parties. Clauses such as these are routine in settlements of this type.

The rejection of the agreement makes it abundantly clear that for ACCE, making headlines and political gain, far outweighs helping the Caamals return to their home.

Wedgewood possesses great compassion for families who have fallen on hard times and are no longer able to keep their homes. This is why the company seeks to conduct its operations according to the highest legal and ethical standards. In most cases, they are able to successfully work with the vast majority of families to provide relocation funds and other housing solutions for them.

Unfortunately, there are some unreasonable organizations and individuals who are only interested in taking advantage of the system, and creating headlines in pursuit of their own agendas.

The facts speak for themselves regarding the Caamal case:

• Purchased the Property for $450,000. The Caamal’s purchase was 100% financed with no cash down payment with a first trust deed in the amount of $360,000 and a second trust deed for $90,000;

• Defaulted on $140,000 in mortgage loan payments over three years, during which time they lived in the home essentially for free;

• Refused services and funds offered by Wedgewood to pay for the family’s transition to a new living arrangement;

• Lost a court battle in which a jury unanimously determined Wedgewood is the rightful owner of the property in question and entitled to immediate possession (Case No. UDFS1508000 Superior Court of California, County of San Bernadino, Fontana District);

• Failed to submit a purchase agreement or acquire loan approval that would have allowed them to take advantage of Wedgewood’s multiple offers for the Caamal family to re-purchase their home at a significant discount; and

• Ignored Wedgewood’s repeated good-faith attempts to accommodate the Cammal family even though the company had no legal obligation to do so.

Instead of working constructively with Wedgewood, ACCE has continued to portray the Caamal family as victims, while exploiting a very emotional issue without any serious attempt on its part to resolve the situation. Instead, ACCE has chosen to take very specific steps to further its own agenda, to the detriment of the Camaals, thereby thwarting a resolution that would have resulted in the Camaal’s repurchasing the home before the end of the summer. Regrettably, Wedgewood has exhausted all possible remedies and now considers this matter closed. Wedgewood is moving forward to sell the property to a responsible owner.

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Media Contact:
Leslie Moody
(310) 640-3070 x251
lmoody@wedgewood-inc.com

Values in Action

Giving back to our community and helping those in need is at the core of Wedgewood’s values.  So how does an empty home with abandoned household items fit into those values?  For our company that means repurposing everything that can be salvaged and putting those gently used goods into the hands of people who need them the most.

Often when we assume ownership of a home, the prior owners leave behind items they no longer want or need.  Rather than throwing out everything left in a vacated home, our property teams make an effort to salvage anything that may be useful to someone else.

Our Nevada team regularly donates items to Safe Nest, a family services agency that provides shelter, counseling, and advocacy to victims of domestic violence.  A typical family seeking help from Safe Nest is a mother with children who has left everything behind to escape the violence at home.  Items like the ones we donate help give them a fresh start in a safe place, where they can build a new foundation.  This past March, our Nevada team donated more than $7,000 in goods to Safe Nest including toys, headboards, dressers, lamps, washers and dryers, heaters, refrigerators, dining tables, and more.   These are just the kinds of items that can help struggling families get back on their feet.

Animal shelters too have been the beneficiaries of abandoned items.  Our teams regularly bag up left-behind towels and tattered blankets and take them to pet rescue shelters.  Even small efforts like this means less waste going to landfills.

Our Wedgewood team coordinates pickups and deliveries with local shelters and philanthropies including Safe Nest, Victory Outreach, Wounded Warrior Project, Camaraderie Foundation, Orange County Animal Services, Weekend Warrior and Angel View.

This kind of effort is the essence of the Wedgwood way, taking care of business and families in a conscientious manner.  We appreciate all of our employees who help make this program such a value to communities nationwide.

Victory Outreach Recipients Victory Outreach Recipients 2  Upland Men's home via Weekend WarriorChairs BB Hoop

Wedgefest 2016

Searching for a way to harness the energy, enthusiasm, skills and philanthropic hearts of Wedgewood’s employees, Greg Geiser asked our State Assemblyman, David Hadley, where the greatest need was in our community. David Hadley put Greg in touch with Sharefest, a non-profit revitalization organization based out of Torrance that brings together projects in need and philanthropic groups looking to lend a hand. And from that fateful meeting, Wedgefest was born.

Our first Wedgefest project was the rehabilitation of Wilmington Park Elementary School, a 100-year old school that was badly in need of upgrades. On March 31st, 2016, 107 Wedgewood employees broke into eleven teams to take on multiple projects at the school that included a refurbished teacher’s lounge, a revitalized library with new paint, books, and a beautiful mural, new backboards for the basketball courts, and a re-landscaped play area with bench seating and artwork.

When the dust finally settled at the end of the day, Wilmington Park Elementary School received a total of $45,000 in upgrades. In addition to this contribution, Wedgewood also collected and donated 50 pairs of shoes and 500 books to the students.

Wilmington Park Elementary was the perfect opportunity for Wedgewood to leverage its employees’ unique skills while giving back to our community and is just the first of many Wedgefest projects to come.
#Wedgefest

Click on this link to view the thank you note from WPE Principal Nakano.