A “proactive” culture got New American Funding not only through the hassles of working through a pandemic but also a record-breaking business year for the 17-year-old mortgage firm.
The Tustin-based lender, with 1,132 Orange County employees and 200-plus offices nationwide, has won Top Workplace honors for the ninth time. CEO Rick Arvielo credits an adaptive corporate culture for a quick turn toward remote working when coronavirus turned the economy upside-down.
“Our goal is to treat customers and employees as family,” he said. “We are very caring in our business approach and are proactive as much as we can be in everything we do. So, while other companies were reacting to the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in March, we already had successfully transitioned 3,300 employees to work-from-home status.”
Arvielo shared with us more about his company’s workplace. His answers have been edited for length.
Q: How did your corporate culture help your company survive the pandemic?
A: At the end of last year, we won the International Torch Award for Ethics from the Better Business Bureau. It’s their highest honor and we are the only independent mortgage lender to have accomplished this. So, you can see, we’re a different kind of company.
Because of what we like to call “NAF360” for its all-around commitment to caring about our customers and our work family, we really didn’t miss a step. Of course, we miss our face-to-face interactions. But in the virtual world, we have done our best to keep our vision focused and our business solidly on track.
Q: Has the pandemic changed that culture?
A: Like any business, the pandemic has presented new challenges. However, I can speak personally to the fact we didn’t want to lose the human touch in our communications because it means so much to get the job done right. So, our executives have taken the time to create and share informative videos showing how they’ve been coping during the pandemic — as well as offering tips to stay focused, productive and connected.
Despite all the challenges, we’ve still managed to have a record-setting year. We’ve even hired over 2,300 employees since the beginning of the year. We’ve been able to successfully transition them to our distinctive culture through livestream sessions with key executives delivering many important company updates. We’ve also been able to replicate our fun, on-site experience with various virtual contests for employees and their families, which have included art, singing — and even a dance challenge with prizes for the winners.
Q: Any upside to this stressful period for your workplace?
A: It’s really brought everyone together. Through our online meetings, we get a peek into our employees’ personal lives and have found that they are the same dedicated folks who have helped build our company into something truly special. It’s nice to see our core values of trust, hard work, and integrity carrying over to their family life and vice versa. It’s been nice to catch a glimpse of that personal side and to know how everyone is coping.
Q: What things would you have done differently?
A: How you react to a challenge doesn’t necessarily define your character but reveals it. I’m proud of how our company adjusted to this challenge. We really have the local area and the city of Tustin to thank for providing us such a great and diverse talent pool to make this all happen.
Q: After the pandemic what changes in workplace life do you keep?
A: It really validates more of what we’ve been doing already. For instance, we’ve seen our loan originators acclimate to this new reality rather seamlessly. It’s just second nature for them to have the flexibility of working outside of a typical office building. So, working from home can be an attractive option for many of our employees with a busy lifestyle. For all of our employees, we continue to stress the importance of a work-life balance.
Q: How will you mentor employees from afar?
A: Interestingly, we already have two virtual mentorship programs in place, both continuations of existing on-site programs. These allow our work family to openly share their goals and aspirations for potential advancement in the company and to experience more intensive, personalized guidance from the executives.
New American Funding
OC employees: 1,132
Quote: “Like any business, the pandemic has presented new challenges. However, I can speak personally to the fact we didn’t want to lose the human touch in our communications because it means so much to get the job done right.” Rick Arvielo, CEO