Great Western Financial Corp. wants to reclaim its position as a leading force in residential lending by doubling its mortgage volume. To get the job done, the California thrift is determined to shed a lot of excess pounds and become lean and mean again.

That's the rationale behind Great Western's plan, announced this week, to fire 800 employees and close as many as 70 loan offices, according to A. William Schenck, vice chairman.

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