Huntington Mortgage Co.'s chief executive, who has often been credited with reviving the division, left the company last week and was succeeded by the unit's senior vice president.
Huntington Mortgage's parent, Huntington Bancshares, Columbus, Ohio, said last week that R. Frederick Taylor left the mortgage company Aug. 31 for personal reasons.
He was succeeded by Thomas J. Finnegan, 47, who joined the company in 1996 and was most recently in charge of national production.
Mr. Taylor, 57, joined Huntington in 1994, when the mortgage unit was suffering because of rising interest rates and poor origination. He orchestrated a turnaround by cutting costs and boosting volume.
Huntington is continuing to explore new origination channels, said Mr. Finnegan. The company began an initiative this year to integrate retail originations at the national bank and the mortgage company, and concentrate on other origination channels that "hold promise," he said.
Huntington is working with small banks and credit unions, and is expanding its telemortgage and telemarketing divisions, among others, Mr. Finnegan said. "We're doing a number of things well in a number of delivery channels," Mr. Finnegan said.
He said Huntington Mortgage's interactive Web site is a sign of where he wants the company to go.
"We're quite positive about the future of our company and the mortgage market in general," said Mr. Finnegan.
Huntington Mortgage has made $1.65 billion of loans to date this year, including refinances, versus $1.4 billion in all of 1997. The company has an $8 billion servicing portfolio.
The parent company has put less emphasis on its mortgage division in the past year, said analyst Joseph Duwan of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, in part because there "has been a fair amount of growth in other divisions."
Nonetheless it has been a "strong year" for Huntington's mortgage business, he said.
Though some banks have de-emphasized their origination networks and sold off their servicing in recent years, Mr. Finnegan said mortgage lending is "still very important" to Huntington.
"We still believe that the residential mortgage can be the foundation" of an overall banking relationship, he said. Huntington is a "community- focused" bank, Mr. Finnegan added, and emphasizes its relationships with customers.
Analysts who know Mr. Taylor said they would not be surprised if he started his own venture. "Fred is pretty entrepreneurial in spirit," said Timothy Willi, an analyst with A.G. Edwards.