Under new stewardship, Comerica Mortgage is pursuing an aggressive growth plan that it hopes will double its size in less than three years.

John R. Haggerty, the Detroit lender's new president and chief executive officer, said he planned to expand the mortgage subsidiary of Comerica Inc. by 30% to 35% a year. That's in the face of a less-than-favorable lending environment.

"We are not going to wait for the consolidation of the industry to gO forward," Mr. Haggerty said in an interview.

Mr. Haggerty, 50, joined Comerica Mortgage in July from Banc One Mortgage Corp., Indianapolis. He replaced Douglas J. Cook, who died in October.

Last year, Comerica Mortgage originated $2.03 billion worth of home loans, nearly twice its 1992 production. That made it the 24th-largest lender. Through last month, the lender originated $746 million of loans, 47% of them for adjustable-rate mortgages. Its servicing portfolio has shrunk 13% since the end of 1993, to $3.79 billion.

But while the rest of the industry has fired scores of workers, Comerica Mortgage has been enlarging its staff steadily for months. As of June it employed 456 workers, a 17% increase since July of last year.

Speaking slowly and deliberately, Mr. Haggerty said Comerica's future success hinged mainly on its ability to upgrade operations, to unify the bank's originations under the mortgage company's auspices, and to find other lenders to acquire.

Comerica Mortgage began a reengineering before Mr. Haggerty joined it. But it is banking on his managerial skills to make the changes successful.

Within three months, Comerica will place laptop computers and other technology into one of its 400 branches as a pilot. The mortgage bank also expects to speed much of its processing operations within the coming months.

Mr. Haggerty said he did not expect any layoffs as a result of Comerica's reengineering. In fact, he said it could result in new hires as the mortgage bank grows.

Comerica has also introduced what it calls a mortgage template. The template is a standardized originations system that executives hope will get all the commercial bank's affiliates to make loans and service them through Comerica Mortgage.

Last month, Comerica Mortgage held the first meeting with executives from the parent company's affiliates to discuss the template's performance. All five of Comerica's affiliate operations have signed on to the program.

Mr. Haggerty called it "a natural evolution" for a commercial bank with a mortgage banking subsidiary. He said it was a way for Comerica Inc. to take better advantage of its mortgage bank by increasing its cross-selling opportunities and to make available better service.

When Mr. Haggerty was introduced as the new head of Comerica Mortgage, John D. Lewis, vice chairman, said he was hired in part because he had the ability to work within a commercial bank to make a mortgage-banking subsidiary succeed, as he did at Banc One.

He agrees that his experience at Banc One has helped him at Comerica.

"I want to see this company grow," he said, "'and I want it to take advantage of the market." A Sense of Purpose Name John R. HaggertyTitle President and CEOCompany Comerica MortgageFormer job Executive vice president, Banc One MortgageChallenge To expand the mortgage business within a commercial banking environment.

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