The living is easy in Des Moines, home of Norwest Mortgage Inc. Even in the office of chief executive Mark Oman, visitors say, the atmosphere is usually folksy and low key.

But if Mr. Oman doesn't exhibit a hard-driving personal style, he has still pushed his company fast and far, shaping it into the nation's No. 1 mortgage company in a remarkably short time. And his unit's steadiness and reliability have been key factors.

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