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Personnel File -April 2008: Financial Services

Keith A. Luedeman, CEO, Charlotte

With a bachelor’s in math and computer science from Clemson, Keith Luedeman, 43, worked for IBM and several up-and-coming high-tech companies before starting in 1999. With a staff of 45, it now operates in 16 states and lends more than $500 million a year.

Why mortgages: “I was looking for a business that would benefit from the Internet. And one that had a lot of inefficiencies was the mortgage business. If we created a company that helps consumers make better decisions, we would also have economies of scale by having only one centralized location.”

Competition: Not LendingTree, the crosstown Internet mortgage brokerage started in 1998. “They were middlemen, making referrals. We started as a broker but soon became approved as a true lender. You apply for a mortgage through them, and we might bid on the loan.” Goodmortgage competes with the likes of Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America is buying.

How it does that: Money, Luedeman says, is a commodity like pork bellies, with all lenders paying basically the same price for raw material. Low overhead enables Goodmortgage to undercut large competitors by an eighth to a quarter of a percentage point on its interest rates. “They have the advantage of size, so we have to be more nimble and responsive to the customer.”