This is the first of three articles in Newbold’s Fifteenth Anniversary Series by the company’s founding partners pictured above (l to r) Tim Gaven, Terry Couto and Dan Reiman.
“Calling your baby ugly,” in consulting terms, means telling you that something you have created—something you hold dear—is just not quite as perfect as you think it is. In fact, it might be just downright “ugly.”
Three of us—an accountant, a technologist and a Wall Street ops guy—were sitting around a table at an Italian bistro in Cleveland Park, DC, sampling some of Pietro’s homemade Merlot and considering what to call our new company. You see, we’d just attracted our first client, with a signed contract due the next day. We needed a name for our company—that night.
Our concept was simple: the mortgage industry needed a full-service consultancy run by and staffed with subject matter experts. People who could hit the ground running in times of crisis, have an educated view, roll up their sleeves—make an impact. We’d center on delivering and behaving with honesty and transparency, and always be focused on “doing the right thing” for the client. When required and regardless of consequence, we’d “call the baby ugly.” That kind of honesty sticks with people, even if they don’t like it.
A few hours—and likely a few bottles—into the conversation, we were no closer to our namesake. So as brilliant minds do, we played the “movie star name game”… you know, street you live on, dog’s moniker. Luckily, one of us lived on Newbold Court, or we would have inked the contract as Pietro’s Homemade Merlot Consultancy.
Birth of a Company
Newbold Advisors was born in 2006, 15 years ago this month, with a large client then undergoing a financial restatement. They needed subject matter experts by the hundreds and had no time to train “green” resources. We delivered. That relationship has endured, and they remain one of our largest clients today. Then, in 2008, the mortgage industry was in crisis. All of a sudden, our expertise was in high demand across the industry. We won’t detail that trajectory here, except to say Newbold quickly became very busy with more than 650 consultants across dozens of clients nationwide.
The end of the crisis was tough on consultancies who served the industry. Banks weren’t spending money on improving their mortgage arms, so we shifted toward the non-banks and large subservicers. Our focus swung in other directions as well. We saw a change in buying habits among clients, and not just in the mortgage industry. Technology spending was growing rapidly. Clients wanted individual contractors in addition to consulting team projects. They wanted to have the ability to convert these contractors to full-time employees. They wanted more control of delivery. But they couldn’t find the talent. Newbold could.
In the last five years, Newbold has diversified its core mortgage consultancy to include a staffing arm and a contingency-based hire capability. Deploying technology talent is now the bulk of our business. In mortgage, we are the top integration consultancy, working with our clients to successfully implement the larger commercial off the shelf packages as well as custom solutions. But we aren’t just ‘mortgage’ anymore. Our clients run the gambit across different industries in the private and public sectors.
More Than a Village
The three founding partners have certainly not been alone on this journey. We’ve had thousands of project-based consultants, contractors and full-time recruits who have approached their assignments with integrity and diligence. They’ve served and delivered consistently. Our permanent staff has grown to include two additional partners and numerous other senior managers. All are exceptional. As any successful entrepreneur can tell you, having a back office that can balance the craziness of growth and shifting strategies with order and fiscal rigor is golden. Without those people along with us on this crazy ride, we wouldn’t be writing this anniversary letter.
If MBA students were tasked with a case study of Newbold’s successes—and failures—over the last 15 years, we’d imagine they’d say:
- Founders saw an opportunity and rapidly seized it
- Attracted great talent who lined up with the mission
- Managed the back office superbly
- Got “lucky” with the mortgage crisis, but executed
- Showed flexibility in shifting strategies
- Most importantly, remained true to a core value of “doing the right thing.” (Because, at the end of the day, that’s what clients want. Doesn’t everyone?)
In our client base, we’ve developed some dear friends along the way. We appreciate it every time someone gives us a shot, and we try our best to prove them right. Many of our former consultants and managers are back with our clients. There is no greater compliment to us then when those people reach out to Newbold in times of need. Thank you and thank you again.
Fifteen years later, that Italian bistro in Cleveland Park isn’t there anymore. But Newbold is. And we still call that baby “ugly.”