Caliber Funding Moves Downtown From Wilmot

September 24, 2012

By Teya Vitu

Yet another large office operation has found Downtown appealing for its future.

Caliber Funding moved its 60 employees in early September from Wilmot Road to 56 W. Congress St., above Enoteca Pizzeria Wine Bar.

Caliber joins Madden Media, Providence Service Corp. and UNS Energy Corp. as prominent office relocations to Downtown in the past three years.

Caliber Funding is a next-generation national mortgage lender, launched in Tucson in the wake of the mortgage-driven economic collapse of 2008. Caliber has been in transition since the company’s corporate office moved to Dallas in spring 2011, and the Tucson operation has decreased from about 100 employees to 60.

Caliber’s Tucson office has realigned from corporate headquarters to the base for operations management for the company’s 68 offices in 18 states that serve 44 states. Tucson also handles business development, corporate support and training, and customer online support.

Caliber Funding is a national wholesale and retail mortgage lender with a paperless, online mortgage process. Unlike legacy mortgage companies that transitioned from paper to online, the three-and-half-year-old Caliber was online-only out of the gate.

“Caliber started as a tech company that understood mortgages,” Krauss said. “Many of our programmers have been working with mortgages for years.”

Caliber Funding rose from the ashes of First Magnus Financial Corp., the Tucson-based national mortgage lender that quite literally was the canary in the mine for the entire economic meltdown that hit in September 2008.

Few other large Tucson businesses right now has a more urban, even New York City, setting than Caliber Funding. Lunch is steps away. Out the door, next door to the right, is Enoteca, next door to the left is Rice House. A couple doors down they have Caffé Milano and a few steps farther is Bruegger’s Bagels.

“I never used to go to lunch,” said Jason Krauss, Caliber’s business development manager. “There are countless lunch options and we can walk to happy hour.”

Caliber’s chief operating officer assembled a team to scout a number of locations around the city, including the River and Campbell area, and ultimately found Downtown. The younger trending employee base at Caliber was already familiar with the Downtown renaissance and favored a Downtown move when the option emerged.

“Many of our team looking for a new location are from here,” Krauss said. “They were keen about Downtown. (Other employees) were very excited about it. There was quite a buzz about it. I’d say about 80 to 90 percent of our people are under 40. It’s much more vibrant with culture here. Downtown has a more lively atmosphere.”

Caliber Funding latched onto the 6,286-square-foot office space that has been vacant. The fit is perfect for Caliber, which sparsely occupied about three times the space at 603 N. Wilmot Road.

“It brought the Tucson people closer together,” Krauss said. “At Wilmot, there were people who didn’t know each other and some had been there for more than a year.”