It was nearly four years ago when Eric Rosemary, a mortgage originator who had co-founded his own business, had a life-changing experience. His message is simple: “I want for others to know that a disability only lies in your fears and mind. That if you put aside any physical ailments you have, running a business or even re-entering the work force in any profession is possible. It is possible if you believe in yourself and know your capabilities far exceed any physical limitations you may have,” he said. On May 24, 2009, while boating with some friends in the West Palm Beach area, he fell off the vessel into shallow water. The fall shattered two vertebrae in his neck and left him a quadriplegic. Yet that did not stop him; while in the hospital, Rosemary continued working and even had a closing take place there. Still, not knowing what the future would hold, he shut Elite Lending Source to concentrate on his therapy and recovery; he found a program which helped him to regain some mobility “and gave me the confidence I needed to go back into the world socially and in business.” So in March 2010, Rosemary went to work for a mortgage company his brother was running. “With his support and ability to help if needed gave me the confidence I need to make it possible,” he said. At the same time, for six months, Rosemary was still going to therapy for four hours day, a two hour drive in the opposite direction from his office. But Rosemary was and is an entrepreneur at heart and soon realized he is happiest running his own branch and running it in a manner he knew best. He became a branch manager for CrossCountry Mortgage, a Fort Lauderdale-based company in June 2012. That gave him the control over his business that he was looking for. He has been in the mortgage business since 2002 and at one point he was doing between $20 million and $30 million in annual production, mostly purchase. It is only recently that Rosemary became a nonproducing manager. Handing the duties of a branch manager was more reason why he elected to switch to nonproducing status. Rosemary recalled upon his return to the business, the first deal that he did he was unsure how people would react to him being in a wheelchair and so he had his brother sit in. “I felt I like was starting all over again. “But once I got that out of the way, people they see past it, they really do,” he said. Consumers want the knowledge that their mortgage originator gives them and are less concerned about what he or she can do physically. This applies also to running his business. Rosemary recalled the first time he had an interview with a potential employee, he was more nervous about the situation than they were. Most of the people at his CrossCountry branch have worked with Rosemary for three or four years, some before the accident and some after, but they don’t look at him any differently because of his situation. He has been able to maintain his Realtor referral sources in Palm Beach and Broward counties, but still, in large part due to market conditions, the new office is marketing/refinance focused. Still, the local real estate market, one of the hardest hit during the bust, has started to turn around and purchase business is improving, Rosemary said. “I try to instill in my guys that yes, the refinances are nice, but you really need to establish that Realtor base because refinances can’t last forever, the HARP program can’t last forever. It’s going to end eventually and you’re bread and butter is going to come from those Realtor contacts you have, especially in South Florida,” he said. He is able to get around the office pretty well and his staff has been helpful. Everyone chips in and there is “a family atmosphere in here. And that is one of the things that we all wanted when I decided to open this office up was more of a family atmosphere.” There are 20 or so employees in his branch right now, with 13 of them being originators. In January, the branch produced $6.8 million, the best since it opened. His office does a lot of Veteran’s Administration loans. He looks to instill in the originators to ask clients if they are a veteran of the U.S. military. The VA program allows for 100% financing and there is a jumbo component in a marketplace where high balance loans are hard to come by. The office has been designed for Rosemary’s needs. The break room area, for example, the sink area has been modified to allow him to roll underneath so he is able to use it. His desk is ergonomic and the corridors in the cube setting are wide enough for him to roll his wheelchair. “It was not easy to start from scratch,” both in terms of creating the office space and building a new business. Yet production is growing as the office starts to get its feel. “We had everything in mind on how to make it work, we just had to implement it,” Rosemary said, adding that at the start it was trial and error. He said that by the summer, the branch should be producing on a consistent basis at least $10 million per month. Even so, for the past four months, outside of the corporate headquarters Rosemary’s branch has been the top producer at CrossCountry. His goal is to continue to grow the office to reach that $10 million per month objective. To some, Rosemary might have been dealt a tough hand, but he said what has happened to him has had a positive impact on his life as well as the lives of those around him. “It has opened up my eyes and put things in a different perspective.”

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