A mortgage company has been formed by an entrepreneurial group of former Fleet Mortgage Group employees.

Amerihome Mortgage Co. opened its doors last month. The company is based in Milwaukee and has another office in Rosemont, Ill.

All 25 employees had worked for Fleet Mortgage.

In February, Columbia, S.C.-based Fleet announced that it was looking to sell 17 retail branch offices in the West and Midwest to focus its retail efforts in the Northeast.

At that point, Nicholas J. DelTorto, a 14-year Fleet veteran and regional vice president in Milwaukee, said he and several other Fleet employees and an investment firm decided to form the new company.

The group even made an offer to Fleet Mortgage's parent, Boston-based Fleet Financial Group.

"The original desire was to acquire several of those branches," said David J. Lubar, president of Lubar & Co., the Milwaukee-based investment firm that is a part owner of Amerihome.

Fleet, however, decided to sell to a larger buyer. In March, PNC Bank Corp.'s mortgage unit agreed to buy five of the 17 offices.

PNC offered jobs to the Fleet employees in the other 12 offices, Mr. DelTorto said. Though some accepted, others joined Amerihome.

"We would have preferred to negotiate a deal directly with Fleet. However, that didn't work out, so we continued to pursue our strategy of forming a new company," said Mr. DelTorto, Amerihome's president and chief executive.

The office in Rosemont is a combination of the two retail branches Fleet had in the Chicago area, Mr. DelTorto said. Peter Georgitsis and Kerry Pastore, two former Fleet vice presidents, are running that office. Another former Fleet Mortgage vice president, Jeffrey Cummisford, is Amerihome's senior vice president.

In its first few weeks of business, Mr. DelTorto said, Amerihome originated $4.5 million in loans.

He added that the company was hoping to produce about $140 million by yearend.

For now, Amerihome is concentrating on originations but Mr. DelTorto said the company hopes to build a servicing portfolio as well. And although Amerihome may have only two offices, the company is seeking a national presence.

"Right now, we're concentrating on the Midwest but we're constantly looking for opportunities to grow the business," Mr. DelTorto said.

To that end, Mr. DelTorto is hoping employees from some of the other former Fleet offices will sign on with Amerihome.

To attract more mortgage talent, Amerihome will have a profit-sharing plan, David J. Lubar said.

Ironically, one of Fleet Mortgage's founding fathers played a key role in the formation of Amerihome. Sheldon B. Lubar, founder of Lubar & Co., was the president of Mortgage Associates Inc. from 1966 to 1973. His son David is now chairman of Amerihome.

In 1973, Mortgage Associates was bought by Industrial National Corp., a Providence, R.I.-based bank that eventually changed its name to Fleet Financial Group.

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