Gary Mauris might have the most recognizable face in the entire Canadian mortgage industry. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, Mauris and his partner Chris Kayat founded Dominion Lending Centres in 2006, and have built it into a respected force within the industry. Today, Dominion Lending Centres has thousands of brokers working in the network and has become a household name for millions of Canadians.
So where did Mauris come from? A serial entrepreneur, he ran two massively successful companies before entering the mortgage space, first, an equipment manufacturing company, which he eventually sold to Rothmans, Benson & Hedges—and then became one of the largest ATM providers in Canada. After selling to DirectCash, Mauris set his sights on the mortgage industry after having a conversation with a neighbour down south.
“I was spending time with my friend in Palm Springs who was a mortgage broker,” said the DLC president. “I remember him telling me that 75-80% of mortgages in the U.S. are done through a broker and I thought that was fascinating. In the U.S., there are hundreds and hundreds of banks and state to state lenders, and I thought that if they have that kind of penetration in the U.S., then there’s huge opportunity in Canada.”
Mauris and Kayat founded DLC 13 years ago and built it into a paragon because they understood mortgage industry brass tacks and because they know that DLC’s brokers are the most important facet of the operation—and, therefore, need to be treated as such.
“Our job is to cater to our brokers and develop efficiencies, new tools and technologies, and to make their jobs easier,” said Mauris. “We take their feedback and help them become better owners and become better entrepreneurs—period! One thing we continue to hear about our competitors is that they try and tell their brokers what to do, what to sell, and how to do it. The secret to business is that nobody wants to be told; they want to work with you and collectively strategize to help their business and help their customer. Our philosophy has always been to make sure we understand, loud and clear, that we work for the brokers and that they don’t work for us.”
Anybody who knows Mauris will tell you he’s a brash straight-shooter, but not many know about his softer side. The DLC Bikes for Kids program has collected and given away about 9,000 bicycles to underprivileged kids, and Mauris counts it as among his greatest achievements.
“The biggest thing we’ve done that fires me up and brings us all together is community initiatives,” he said. “When I was a kid I was always out on my bike, and we take for granted how to something so simple and enjoyed by so many children isn’t universally enjoyed. We’re trying to change that and make sure kids everywhere get to enjoy the childhoods they deserve.”