Larry Gonzales, who is Scotsman Guide’s first Top Veteran Originator by dollar volume, had a humble request when it came to his Featured Top Originator interview — that it didn’t cut into his surfing time.
“I try to get out there two to three times a week,” Gonzales said with a laugh. “I mean, I’m a stone’s throw from the beach, probably 750 yards. You just get out there and you feel the sun’s rays warming you up, and it’s just giving you strength. That’s a pretty awesome feeling. Just a big perk to living in Hawaii.”
Not that surfing is all there is to living and working there, he said. Gonzales, who made the cross-country move from Virginia to Oahu in 2009, explained that while the Aloha State is known for its beaches and world-class surfing, the military’s influence is a big part of the unique local fabric.
“The military impact here is bigger than people realize,” he said. “You may not hear it mentioned a lot, but there’s a big, big presence here. In fact, one of the things that has helped our housing market lately is that military is such a big part of the economy here.
“Tourism is a very important, integral part, obviously, but with everything shutting down [due to the COVID-19 pandemic], we’ve got something like the third-highest unemployment [rate] in the country here because so many of our tourism people can’t work. Fortunately, our military presence here is so strong that I have more people who are preapproved and looking for a home than I’ve ever had.”
Little things like having a routine like that have helped me to succeed. The military is about discipline. It’s about being organized, being on time, returning phone calls.
Working with military clients at Aligned Mortgage is a pleasure, Gonzales said. After serving in the U.S. Navy for 24 years — with stops in San Diego, Japan, South Korea and Hawaii, among other places — he still relates easily and well to many of these clients.
“It never really leaves you, you know? In fact, I still have military terms for so much of what I do,” he said. “In the morning, I do my ‘five before five,’ which is kind of preparing the mental part of my game. Then I ‘lock and load’ before I get into the office, where I get ready for the day and I’m ready to go into the fight. And at the end of my day, I ‘clear the mechanism’ — I make sure that everything is taken care of before I go home.
“Little things like having a routine like that have helped me to succeed,” he added. “The military is about discipline. It’s about being organized, being on time, returning phone calls [and] bringing a notebook with you whenever you go into a meeting. It’s ingrained in me, like waking up and breathing. That’s why I think a lot of Realtors like to work with me. They go, ‘All right, we know what we’re working with with Larry. He’s going to take care of us.’”
Ultimately, taking care of people — whether they’re co-workers, Realtors or borrowers — is what it’s all about, Gonzales said. The mortgage industry, he said, is about making people happy and keeping them happy so their dreams can come true.
“Growing up, I always wanted things to be better for other people,” he said. “I loved giving hope and making people excited about something as a kid, and I always had this desire to serve. Even in the military — actually, in all my jobs — my success was not anything that I did at all. It was about empowering people, giving them the tools and education to do their job.
“In doing a loan for a family, you’re doing the same thing. You’re educating them on a possibility and showing them the path to financial freedom. Through homeownership, I’ve made my dreams come true, so the ability to give people that same hope, that’s pretty powerful stuff.” •
For the 11th year in a row, we compiled the industry’s most comprehensive list of the nation’s top mortgage originators. The rankings include not only the originators who are closing the most dollar volume and the most loans, but also the leaders in niche areas, like Federal Housing Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Agriculture loans, as well as home equity lines of credit. View Scotsman Guide’s Top Originators 2019 at scotsmanguide.com/top2019.