He has an easygoing style, but George Nicholas has formed one of the fastest-growing companies in home equity lending.

Since its startup just over a year and a half ago, Industry Mortgage Corp., Tampa, has become the wholesaler of choice for many originators of second mortgages and mortgages to borrowers with damaged credit. Mr. Nicholas, the company's president and chief executive, is trying to mold Industry Mortgage into a Fannie Mae for this wholly different breed of lender. And he's doing it rapidly.

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