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GLEN BURNIE, Md. — Ben Renko III is looking for a few good credit unions. Really, just a few, maybe one a year, to use his company’s portal solution for vendor management.Renko is president and chief technology officer of InterActData, developer of a middleware solution named vmcSelect that Renko said “changes how a lender interacts with vendor choices-appraisal, closing, title, flood-through accountability and control.”InterActData (www.interactdata.net) was created and vmcSelect was launched as offshoots of the Empower vendor management solution and Data Search Inc. (www.data-search.com), a settlement services specialist founded in 1978 by Renko’s father.In 1995, Data Search developed its Empower Web-based application, and the parent company now is licensed as a title insurer in 30 states and provides its own title management and related services to more than 10,000 customers nationwide, the younger Renko said.“In 2005 years later, we completed development of vmcSelect. It was our goal at the time to add a single client each year, each being from a different lending sector,” said Renko, who also serves as president of DataSearch.“We currently have as active clients, a wholesale lender, an REO department of a finance company, a national finance company and a large regional bank,” he said. “2009 is our target year to add a credit union to that client portfolio.”InterActData, which works out of the same building as Data Search Inc., has a staff of six while the bigger company has about 55, Renko said. The younger firm acts as a consultancy and custom developer, a role which sprung from a customized engagement with American General Finance, Renko said.“We’re smaller, we don’t outsource our work and we don’t sell you a solution out of the box that may meet your needs 80% of the time but not all the time,” he said. “We do our projects one at a time, and the team that goes in and implements the solution are the same people who developed it in the first place.”“We think this brings a lot of value,” Renko said, adding that he believes his business model does, too. “Credit unions typically use a number of appraisers and title companies, and with us, they can do that at no expense,” he said. “None of our lenders pay us to use our service. They’re all transaction fees paid by the vendors.”That’s music to the ears of one Renko client, loan officer April Stoner at $15 million Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission FCU in Laurel, Md.She said her 2,500-member credit union has been using the Empower solution for about a year and it “saves us a tremendous amount of time and costs our members about half of what a settlement used to with our old system.”She said she’s able to pull together complete closing packages in-house now for her equity loans and that deeds that used to take up to eight or 10 months to get filed when handled by mail now take only a day or two.“I do it all from my computer,” Stoner said. “I know where everything is every step of the way. In fact, as far as getting documents back, it’s sometimes even a little overboard, but I’d rather have too much than not enough.”Stoner said she uses Data Search’s title and other services as well as its vendor management tools, but Renko noted that that’s not a requirement.“If you currently have 10 appraisal companies, eight title providers, three AVM and four flood providers, that’s 25 possibilities for ordering and tracking orders, 27 Web sites, user names, passwords and fax numbers,” he said.“Using vmcSelect, you have a single interface for all your vendors, regardless of their technology or the method they choose to communicate,” Renko said.The portal uses XML and other middleware technology to interface with various loan origination and message delivery systems, and it comes with human beings, too.Renko said he and his staff work closely with their clients to customize the solution to fit their needs-such as using its rules engine to create a rotating list of appraisers to be used at a community bank in southern Virginia, or doling out the work to appraisers by percentages at 1,800-branch BB&T.There are seven users of vmcSelect right now and Renko said only one or two new clients a year can be accommodated because of the time involved in the customized deployment.No two organizations are alike, “and I always tell our people that we’re in this for long-term relationships with our clients, not short-term profits,” Renko said. “We’re not just selling a quarter-million dollar piece of software and walking away. Our very business model creates a very high incentive for us to get better.”“There are no long-term contracts for vmcSelect. You can walk away from us at anytime for no expense. And it would only take 10 or 15 minutes to switch to another vendor.”–[email protected]

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