The simple act of hanging a mezuzah on their front doors connected the families of Lee Lieberman and Evan White 19 years ago, and what started as two Jewish families becoming friends has grown into a partnership for a new mortgage company.
Lieberman, a manager for Finova Capital Corporation at the time the families met, became a close family friend and a mentor to White, who was only 9 at the time. Lieberman was there for many of the boy’s baseball games and even White’s bar mitzvah at Temple Chai, which they both attend.
As the years went on, Lieberman went into the mortgage industry and encouraged White to be a part of his business ventures. Lieberman even helped White get a job after he graduated from college.
In January, the duo joined forces to open Road to Home Mortgage.
How did Road to Home Mortgage start?
Lieberman: Well, we’re a boutique, mortgage brokerage formed in January of 2018. I’ve been in the business for 17 years. Evan and I partnered up; he’s worked with me in several businesses that I’ve had, and we decided to go out and start our own business model where we thought we can bring some efficiencies, lower interest rates for customers, faster turn times and provide a better service than what you can get out there with the big box retail banks.
White: Right when we started this, Lee said, “My philosophy is, I don’t want a client just for a transaction. I want a client for life.” I know just from him working 15 to 20 years in the business, he’s seen so many of the same clients come back. Sometimes you hear horror stories about people trying to get houses and mortgages and all that stuff, but I think Lee has done a great job, and I think it was a natural fit for us, especially just knowing each other for so long.
What’s the main thing that’s tied you together for all these years?
Lieberman: It really started all because of Judaism and our religious backgrounds. I moved into the neighborhood in 1999, and found out relatively quickly that I had a neighbor behind me. His mother saw a mezuzah on our door, and she kept wanting to stop and say hello. We were in a pretty conservative neighborhood, so not a lot of mezuzahs, but she came by and we eventually met and I saw a baseball cage in their backyard and it intrigued me because I was a baseball coach.
But really it was the Judaism that brought us together. So over the last 19 years our families have developed a relationship. Evan and his sisters baby-sat for my younger kids and we celebrate the High Holidays, we break the fast together.
Evan, what led you to want to become a part of the mortgage business?
White: I worked with Lee right out of college for two years processing loans. I didn’t know anything about the mortgage industry, and he said, “Hey, take this two-day course to learn how to process and you’ll learn along the way.” That gave me the good foundation; it really helped me become more organized.
Back then, he was talking about going off and creating a business with me, but my background was more marketing, so that’s what I wanted to work on.
Then, a couple years ago, I was doing marketing and Lee kept saying, ‘Hey, whenever you’re ready.’ I was ready to start my own business, and obviously when you start a business you want to start it with people you trust.
You both have a passion for baseball and coaching. Lee, did you ever coach Evan when he was younger?
Lieberman: I definitely threw him batting practice quite a bit. When he got into high school, I watched a lot of his games. After he graduated college from the University of Arizona — which, being an Arizona State University guy, was a heartbreaking moment when he told me he was going to U of A — he came back and he helped me coach one of my Little League teams that had my younger son, Justin, on it. He coached that for two years with me.
What’s your idea of the perfect
Lieberman: Mine is simple; I really love to play golf. With the weather we have here, it’s just so beautiful to be out here. Such great weather to play. So that for me is a perfect day, if it’s not hanging out with my boys and my wife. I like going to movies with friends as well.
White: I love being outdoors, hiking or biking, and I’m pretty active even on my days off — I’m remodeling a house right now.
I have a pretty good connection within the Jewish community and I just had a little Jewish poker night, which was fun. JN