George Mehok Discusses Data Mining to Solve Business Puzzles

In its April edition, Mortgage Banking published an article authored by George Mehok, Safeguard’s chief information officer, titled Solving Business Puzzles with Data Mining.

Solving Business Puzzles with Data Mining
By George Mehok
Every piece in a puzzle is an important part of the big picture. Each piece fits in a certain way, and puzzle solvers must apply strategic thinking to make it all come together. Depending on the size and number of pieces, some may start with the edges and work their way toward the middle. Others identify similar pieces and begin working on specific sections of the puzzle. Each person chooses the best method to analyze and solve the puzzle. 
The same applies to mining data to support business planning and decision making. Each piece of data that a company collects is a puzzle piece that fits into the big picture. Developing a strategic approach to put it all together is the challenge.
National field service companies working on behalf of the mortgage industry collect billions of points of data in the process of inspecting and maintaining millions of properties in neighborhoods, cities and states across the country.
We collect detailed information about the condition of each vacant and abandoned property, instances of damages and vandalism, and the numbers of vacancies, defaults and foreclosures we encounter in each ZIP code.
Our database tracks the numbers of work orders each vendor completes and each employee processes, and the photos that accompany each order. We track outcomes related to specific procedures, training and other activities. If the information is in our system, we can track it.
And just as the tiny pieces in a jigsaw puzzle form a picture, each piece of data builds a picture that can help improve operational performance and the quality of vendor performance, and support the decision-making process of mortgage servicers regarding their property portfolios. 
Improving field performance
Over the past two years, Safeguard Properties has made a significant investment to enhance our data-mining capabilities to create new and improved analytics and reporting mechanisms to improve our own performance and share critical data with our clients. Our goal is to create internal business intelligence strategies and use analytics to predict trends to proactively improve performance and help clients make evidence-based business decisions.
Safeguard’s enterprise data warehouse collects information from all of our systems to provide a timely and accurate view of the work we perform in the field and help us make important resourcing decisions. For example, by evaluating contractor performance and property condition trends, we can more accurately forecast resource levels and types of vendors we will need in particular markets.  
Analytics also help Safeguard build stronger relationships with our vendors and a more effective vendor workforce. Scorecards allow us to track and measure the performance of each contractor so that we can address issues such as timeliness, accuracy and other quality indicators.  
Safeguard also has developed “dashboards”–easy-to-read charts and graphs–so that our vendor-management team can easily view reporting results to evaluate the performance of individual vendors. When deficiencies are identified, field quality-control representatives work with vendors to improve their performance and outcomes. 
Supporting client needs and requirements
Field service companies must maintain scorecards to measure their performance against client service-level agreements. By building analytics to track and monitor performance levels in near real time, we can proactively identify issues and take more immediate corrective actions to minimize property risks and ensure that service levels remain at or above our clients’ standards and requirements.  
By evolving analytic capabilities to proactively identify trends, we can also help our clients make more informed decisions about their portfolios of defaulted and foreclosed properties, as well as their property disposition strategies.
For example, we can evaluate crime, vandalism, severe weather and property damage trends in particular areas to help clients predict maintenance costs associated with these issues.
Clients can utilize the data we provide to determine optimal property investments to maximize the return on their real estate-owned (REO) portfolios or to make decisions to donate properties to land banks, community development corporations or other agencies.
We can work with clients to determine alternative securing procedures, changes in inspection frequency or other services that may be needed to comply with investor guidelines.   
Planning for the future
Safeguard relies heavily on operational reporting, metrics, analytics and dashboards to make business decisions to improve our financial and operational performance as well. We make information available in our internal systems so that each department and manager can pull the data they need to evaluate employee performance, cost information, profit margins and other results, and take measures to either improve deficiencies or share successes and best practices with other departments.
As more of Safeguard’s field inspectors utilize mobile devices, we are in the process of comparing results of those who use such devices and those who do not to determine whether we find a difference in the quality of work. This will help us evolve our processes to help our inspectors improve the efficiency and quality of their work. 
Another strategic initiative for Safeguard is the use of Geographic information systems (GIS) tools and techniques. GIS captures locations to ensure that vendors identify and visit the correct properties. The data, enabled by the use of mobile devices, also collects location-based data that will help us assign work orders more efficiently.
By taking advantage of the information treasures in our data mines, companies like Safeguard can fit billions of pieces of information together to solve their most challenging business puzzles and those of their clients. We haven’t completely solved the puzzle, but we are laying the groundwork to continuously improve our own performance, the performance of our vendors, and help clients make better and more-informed business decisions as well. 
George Mehok is chief information officer of Valley View, Ohio-based Safeguard Properties, the nation’s largest mortgage field service company. He can be reached at

To view the article in PDF, please click here.

About Safeguard 
Safeguard Properties is the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and based in Valley View, Ohio, the company inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders,  and other financial institutions. Safeguard employs approximately 1,700 people, in addition to a network of thousands of contractors nationally. Website:



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.