Chris Gallo of NJ Lenders Corp is the fourth of 12 kids, so he was never short on conversation.
“It was interesting,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s definitely something unique, but it was always fun. I always had a brother or sister around that I could go talk to. It was nice — never lonely, that’s for sure.”
Maybe that’s how Gallo sharpened the gift of gab that has helped him rocket to the top of multiple lists in Scotsman Guide’s Top Originators rankings. In 2019, he ranked 10th among all originators in the country for Top Dollar Volume at more than $346 million and was 11th in purchase volume with more than $177 million. It’s an output that Gallo praises his company and team for.
“We really have an amazing platform and really allow originators to excel to their fullest degree,” he said. “We’re not huge. We’re not one of the big national lenders or one of the companies that’s in every state. But I would say that for the size that we are and the volume we do, we’re really doing it right.”
The fact that Gallo and his team are doing it in the distinctly competitive New York City and Northern New Jersey market makes their performance as a smaller company that much more notable.
We really have an amazing platform and really allow originators to excel to their fullest degree.
“One of the unique challenges we face is saturation,” Gallo said. “It’s a small area. There are a lot of people, but there are also a lot of originators. We’re kind of a boutique lender and that really sets us up differently than the others out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s not difficult. There’s a lot of competition, for sure, so you really have to know what you’re doing.”
Gallo isn’t doing badly for a guy who didn’t initially plan on being in the mortgage business.
“I was actually going to school to become a police officer,” said Gallo, adding that he was auditioning for the New York Police Department while he got his financial career started at a local credit union. But even though his initial career choice didn’t work out, Gallo said that getting to help people in a different way is among his favorite things about the mortgage industry.
“I think that’s the main, most important thing,” he said. “You’re helping people achieve their dreams and that’s something that makes you feel really good.
“And no one’s situation is the same. Nothing’s black and white. Every day is a different day,” Gallo added. “You’re not coming in every day and making the same widget. One situation is X, the next guy’s situation is Y, and that to me is what kind of keeps it interesting. And all the while, you’re providing a big service to each of those people along the way.”
Gallo credits his original employers in the banking world for letting him take his lumps and learn along the way.
“I was fairly young and, you know, I failed miserably at first under the circumstances of the shop I was at,” he said with a laugh. “It was back in the early 2000s when cold calling was very popular and for the first six to nine months, it was brutal. I just kept falling on my face until one day it just clicked. And from that point forward, it just kind of snowballed and kept building.
“They’re not around anymore, but I do owe them for keeping me around, and pushing me and driving me,” Gallo said. “That taught me even more about the value of hard work, and keeping at it and pushing yourself. I guess you could say I’m a big example of what happens if you don’t give up.”