Having been elbowed out of the No. 1 spot in the mortgage industry by Norwest Corp., Countrywide Credit Industries is bulking up to claw its way back on top.

Long known for running a lean shop, Countrywide has expanded its staff by more than a third in the past year. As of July, it had 5,333 employees, up from 3,901 a year earlier, according to monthly reports issued by the company.

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