Business & Professional
Special to the Jewish News
Dan Gilbert of Franklin has accom-
plished much in his 48 years. He has
launched a mortgage business that has become the
largest online mortgage lender in the nation, clos-
ing $25 billion in mortgages last year alone; became
a major investor in a flock of diversified companies,
including a professional basketball team; helped bring
new life to downtown Detroit; started a casino gambling
venture in Ohio; is raising five children; and has donated
millions to Jewish community charities and other causes.
And although he's well known locally, he didn't really
achieve national fame until he wrote a letter about a basketball
Majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National
Basketball Association, he saw his star player, LeBron James,
reject an offer of $150 million over six years and jump to the
Miami Heat to join two of his all-star buddies for less money.
Then Gilbert was fined $100,000 by David Stern, the Jewish
NBA commissioner, for excessively criticizing James in a
well-publicized and much discussed "open letter:'
Apparently, though, Stern is willing to let bygones be
"Dan is an extraordinary entrepreneur whose passion
and innovation have brought tremendous excitement to
the Cleveland sports fans:' Stern told the Jewish News. "His
commitment to programs helps create thriving busineses,
jobs and continued economic growth, and underscores
his lasting positive impact on many communities."
The James "issue" — Gilbert and his management
team love to use that word — is behind him for the time
being, and Cays management is seeking to strengthen
the team and boost the morale of Cleveland fans.
Gilbert, sipping a morning cola in his office and
showing the virtues of his new iPad during a recent
interview with the Jewish News, thumbed wistfully
through a thick file of about 1,300 e-mails and letters
of support from people "not only from Cleveland but
all over the country. People wanted to send me money
to help pay the [NBA] fine. Kids had lemonade stands
to raise money. It was amazing. I've told everyone to
give the money to charity instead."
August 19 • 2010
Gilbert's saga is one of the great entrepreneurial
success stories of modern times in the Detroit
Jewish community. At age 23, in 1985, he used
$5,000 in savings to start a small mortgage com-
pany in a shared Southfield office. He called it
Rock Mortgage (later changed to Rock Financial)
"because it was a short and memorable name and
had a solid sound to it."
His partners were his brother, Gary, now of
Hollywood, Calif., and Lindsay Gross, now of
Franklin, who is a Quicken sales director. Rock
evolved into nationally famous Quicken Loans
Inc. with more than 3,000 employees. It is now
the nation's third largest retail mortgage lender
and Gilbert is its chairman and majority
But Gilbert is more excited now about what
his company is doing for his beloved Detroit.
Quicken is in the midst of moving 1,700