In the spring of 2015 Men’s Book Spotlighted Victor for a lifestyle profile article. The article, titled “Big Lender,” featured Ciardelli on his start in the mortgage industry, his plans for Guaranteed Rate’s growth and introduction of the digital mortgage, as well as his personal interests, including art, his workout routine, his favorite restaurant in Chicago, and even his favorite smoothie recipe from Guaranteed Rate’s café.
Read the full article below or take a look at the Men’s Book March 2015 issue.
Ensconced in his lofty exposed-brick offices and often sporting a casual shirt and face stubble, Chicago mortgage magnate Victor Ciardelli III appears as a poster boy for the new breed of entrepreneur. But a bevy of awards underscore his business cred as head of the second-largest independent mortgage lender in the country. Guaranteed Rate employs more than 2,400 people nationwide and now includes the charitable Guaranteed Rate Foundation. V.C., as friends call the 48-year-old father of four (who shares a birthday with the late Chicago Bear Walter Payton), recently spoke with Men’s Book.
You’re the son of prominent local attorney Victor Ciardelli. Who was Victor the first?
My grandfather. He was born in Italy, north of Florence. My grandmother was also born north of Florence. They met here in Chicago.
Are you also Italian on your mother’s side?
Her father was born and raised in Sicily. My mother’s mother is Irish.
Where do you go in Chicago to dine Italian?
My favorite place is Nico Osteria. I love fish.
I’m told you go to Art Basel in Miami every year.
I love the vibe, the art, the graffiti art, the music. I’m thinking about hiring a graffiti artist to do a piece. I have a Jimi Hendrix painting that I bought at Art Basel that’s done on newspaper.
You rarely wear a tie. Where do you shop for your casual look?
I love Vince, Barneys, Ted Baker, John Varvatos.
Describe your headquarters.
I have a first-class kitchen and two chefs. My previous chef, Jeff Mauro, is on the Food Network. I have a masseuse and a registered nurse practitioner on staff, a gym, kickboxing classes, yoga, Pilates. We have dry cleaning and one of the nicest rooftop decks in the city.
Are you an athlete?
I work out four to five days a week: weights, running, skiing. I’m a boater. I have a 46-foot Sea Ray (named Guaranteed Fun).
What’s your daily schedule?
After I drop my daughter at school I put my headset on and make calls till I get in the office. Back-to-back meetings until early afternoon, then I focus on growth: recruiting, looking at purchasing companies, hiring.
Do you lunch in or out?
We created a smoothie bar and a juice bar here; I have a standing order for a juice every day – kale, beets, Granny Smith apple and carrot.
Why the mortgage business?
I was selling commercial real estate when I was 24. I had a building in the Loop that I put under contract in 1991 when it seemed as if there were more foreclosures than sales. I had a seller and buyer and couldn’t get the loans. If they would’ve found the financing, I wouldn’t be in the mortgage business today.
Should people buy less house than they can afford?
Yeah, I live by that. We write a check for everything. [Having no debt] puts you in a much better position to withstand downturns. As far as buying homes, people should defiantly live within their means.
What’s next for you?
To become No. 1 in the industry. Soon we want to roll out a digital mortgage process where the customer can get the entire loan online.
Is your job your hobby?
People ask me if I’ll sell the company. Honestly, I absolutely love it. I love building a culture. I love building a business. I love changing an industry. I’m having a blast.