Knutson Mortgage Corp. is attempting a back-to-basics business approach following the departure of its chief executive Ray W. Sims.

As part of this strategy, Glenn R. Wilson Jr. came out of semi- retirement last month to assume chief executive duties. Mr. Wilson joined Knutson as chief executive in 1988 and served in that role until last year. He then became chairman when Mr. Sims was named chief executive. Mr. Sims left the company in December.

Mr. Wilson said Minneapolis-based Knutson will once again look to increase its presence in subservicing, a form of outsourcing.

Knutson subservices about $1.5 billion in loans for eight customers. Mr. Wilson said Knutson's subservicing volume had been as high as $5 billion, but it decided last year to stop seeking new clients.

On the production side, the emphasis is on forming stronger relationships with brokers and correspondents as well as customers it deals with directly through its retail franchise, said Jeffrey R. Lipes, senior vice president for national lending.

Mr. Lipes said Knutson has gotten rid of some wholesale accounts and has adjusted the size of the department accordingly.

He added that Knutson will move more slowly in expanding its retail network. Last year, he said, the goal was to have retail offices in every state. Now the plan is to grow in states where the company already operates.

"Let's expand in more areas of Minnesota before looking to expand in New Mexico," Mr. Lipes said.

In addition to Mr. Sims, who left to head mortgage operations at Great Western Financial Corp., Knutson also lost its secondary marketing head, Lawrence Spera, to the California thrift.

Mr. Wilson said he did not expect any other employees to follow Mr. Sims. He pointed out that Mr. Spera and Mr. Sims worked together at GE Capital Mortgage Services, and that Mr. Sims had brought Mr. Spera with him from GE to Knutson.

Knutson is owned by KMC Management Company, a group that includes Chase Capital Partners, the merged venture capital divisions of Chase Manhattan Bank and Chemical Banking Corp., and Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison, an investment firm based in Minneapolis.

Mr. Wilson didn't rule out a public offering for the company as a way for the venture capital firms to cash in on their investments. However, a public offering isn't likely unless Knutson's growth strategy is successful. "One of the things we feel is we need to be larger for that to have really strong appeal," he said.

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