M. Kathy Vieth – Maverick Lending Network
M. Kathy Vieth, Managing Partner with Vicki Crawford of Maverick Lending Network, Private Mortgage Bankers, has worked with more clients in her entire career than the total population of her home town of Nevada, Missouri – 8,000. Her parents owned the town’s restaurant and Vieth was no stranger to work, participating in the family business at the tender age of 5. “I had a social security number at the age of 5,” she laughed. “I would work at the restaurant doing just about everything except waitressing. Mom didn’t want me taking tips away from the adults that worked there.”
It seemed destined from the start that a successful future in business was in the making. “I would receive a check and I had to save a portion of it. I also could take an advance on my allowance but I had to pay it back. And I understood that if the front page of the account book was black that meant we had made money and if it was red we had lost money. So I learned the fundamentals of money at an early age.”
Attending college at Central Methodist College in Fayette, Missouri because she wanted a smaller school, Vieth received her bachelor of arts degree in math with a minor in economics. Graduating in 1966, she found the work climate had not expanded for females to include her interests. “At that time women were either teachers or nurses. I wanted to be a computer programmer, I don’t know why. I just didn’t want to be a teacher or nurse and even though I didn’t know anything about it, I knew computers were very important to the future. I went to work for Southwestern Bell in St. Louis and advanced to supervisor in accounting. That made me only the third female ever to be promoted to a second-line manager. I stayed there for three years,” she explained.
Still in St. Louis, Vieth was hired by a large bank as a computer programmer trainee where she was trained by IBM’s school for programmers. She advanced into managing the computer operations center, and continued to interact with IBM sales and technical people. By age 30 she was committed to expanding out of Missouri and she knew she wanted to work with IBM. In 1974, she was hired by IBM as a sales trainee working with banks and she moved to San Antonio, Texas. IBM became her business home for the next 18 years.
Throughout the IBM years there was a steady rise working in various sales positions in Texas and Oregon between 1974 and 1982. In 1982, the “dream” job came along. “I was promoted to assistant to the chairman of IBM and moved to Armonk, New York. It was my first experience east of the Missouri River. It was an incredible experience, like obtaining a master’s degree without going to school. I also learned I never want to live east of the Missouri River again,” Vieth said with a smile.
From that springboard she worked in product and development divisions and later as director of IBM’s cash register company, helping to take the division from obscurity to the dominant player in the business. It was a worldwide assignment developing the product throughout Europe and Japan.
Three years later she was again promoted, this time to vice president of worldwide display and monitor divisions, overseeing a $2.5 billion budget and 700 people. “I spent all the time flying but I was very happy. I was again the only woman, but I had the reputation of the person who could take a problem and fix it. I got all the divisions that were in trouble. I either fixed it or got us out.”
In 1991 IBM announced their last large retirement package and Vieth chose to take it. She decided to move to Vail and “be a ski instructor. I had been in Vail prior to 1991 and simply fell in love with the area and the people. And of course the mountain was the cat’s meow to ski,” she recalled.
Moving to Vail for good in 1993, the next seven years was taken up with “recovering and recharging and having fun. I still did some consulting and sat on several boards, but I did a lot of golfing, hiking and vacationing.”
In 1999, and ready to hit the ground running, it was time to jump back into the business arena in full force. Convinced to enter the lending industry Vieth teamed with business partner, Vicki Crawford, to open the Vail branch of the Klein Group as a mortgage banker. Later, through mutual agreement with the company, Vieth and Crawford began their own business, Maverick Lending Network. “Vicki and I are very complimentary business partners. She is very detailed oriented and I’m more big-picture oriented. We have very different personalities which help us more customize to our individual clients. However, we are completely involved and informed about all of our clients so there is always one of us who can personally address each and every client at all times.”
And what is it about the lending industry that is enticing? “I like the people I meet and the people I work with and the structure of the deal. Each transaction has a different requirement and a different way the loan needs to be structured. Everything is based on relationships. Our business is basically all referrals. We’ve met people who become friends. I think the most gratifying is working with first-time homeowners. There are many kids in the Vail Valley and helping them figure out how to purchase a home is very rewarding. But we cover the entire gambit of clients working with first-time owners to multi-million dollar buyers.”
Community activities are also an effort in which Vieth participates. She has been very active on the Vail Liquor Board and found the experience “fun and I think we had an impact.” She has also been involved for years with the Eagle Valley Rotary, a family tradition, as well as Habitat for Humanity and is an ardent supporter of the Eagle Valley Humane Society, even walking dogs at the animal shelter. She draws on her experiences with IBM to teach courses on women in business at Colorado Mountain School and courses on how to start your own business.
Another passion of Vieth’s is a complete dedication to her two-and-a-half-year-old dog, a boxer named Budd. “It’s ironic, but Budd is from New Orleans. He’s quite the lucky dog.”
And what is the future plan for this driven business owner? “I enjoy what I’m doing and will continue as long as I’m still having fun. I love Colorado, love Vail, and will always have a presence here in the valley. And what I was allowed to do at IBM allowed me to progress on my own merits and build on the fundamentals I learned as a child. Those are fundamentals I now bring to my mortgage company.” And with a grin she adds, “It’s gotta be fun – or you shouldn’t be doing it.”
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