The mortgage unit of Sears, Roebuck & Co. has been scooping up talent from banks and thrifts.

Robert Burton, formerly a senior vice president in Bank of America's commercial lending operations, joined Sears Mortgage Corp. this week as chief financial officer, said Chairman Walter Klein.

Last month, Sears hired Mark Ulmer from California Federal Bank. Mr. Ulmer, who had been the Los Angeles thrift's executive vice president of residential lending, will head wholesale and correspondent lending at Sears.

Mr. Klein said the hirings reflect rapid growth at the Riverwoods, Ill.-based company. Sears' originations should hit $11 billion this year, up nearly 140% from the level two years ago, he said.

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