Parker Mortgage: The Home Team
Noblesville couple finds fun in finance!
To say that Parker Mortgage Team in Noblesville is not your typical mortgage broker is putting it mildly. The company, now in its 6th year, is owned and operated by Mike and Tawni Partin, an under 40 married couple, who have managed to take an industry that is normally dry and boring and turn it into a fun place to work. In fact, just a few years ago Parker Mortgage, a franchise of Finance of America, was voted one of the best places to work in the Indianapolis area.
A lot of this is due to the Partins’ unconventional management style, which includes considering everyone a team member, not an employee; engaging in lots of team events, incentive trips and outings; and hiring by committee.
Hang out and have fun
Their offices, currently located at Mill Top, a 150 year old remodeled Noblesville flour mill, are indicative of their style. Upon entering, you can’t help but be reminded of a chic New York-style warehouse space complete with brick walls, loft, and spiral staircase. You also can’t help but notice that they bring their Old English Sheepdog, Millie, to work with them every day as she is often the first to greet you. They named the business after another sheepdog, Parker, who passed away. “It seemed too arrogant to name it after ourselves,” says Mike.
Mike and Tawni, who have been married 14 years and have literally known each other since kindergarten, knocked around the mortgage and financial services industries for many years in different roles. A desire to get themselves out of debt led them to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University which they not only passed and incorporated in their lifestyle, but also led courses 15 times helping 200 families through the program.
The great recession in 2008, however, hit the Partins hard, since it began with the subprime mortgage crisis and both lost their jobs. They took that as a challenge, though, and not a defeat. Mike, who is the branch manager and in charge of sales started Parker Mortgage and then Tawni joined him later as Operations Manager.
Their goal was to turn mortgage company stereotypes on their heads says Mike. ““We wanted to be the team that was approachable, that was on the ground with you, that would be more consultative; that would hang out and have fun and have a beer with you”.
At the outset, Parker Mortgage was the smallest Finance of America branch in the nation. After the first year, it was the fastest growing branch and now ranks 7th of all 110 branches. That growth necessitated finding a way to better communicate with clients about the mortgage process, which can be intimidating. So Mike and Tawni started producing entertaining videos to keep clients informed. “They were very campy and it was just different members of the team talking about what each step meant and what was happening,” says Tawni.
They found that the videos were so popular that REALTORS and other related service businesses wanted their own videos and, thus, Parker Media Group was born. Parker Media is now producing videos for companies in various industries around the country.
Mike and Tawni are proud to point out that they have not lost one single employee in the last year, which is rare in an industry such as theirs. And that may be because they intentionally created a company that they themselves would want to work for. Tawni says their company hierarchy is not vertical and compares their team concept to a puzzle. “If you’re putting together a puzzle, first of all it’s horizontal and each piece is interlocking and no piece is more important than any other piece in that puzzle. Because as soon as one piece is missing, you have an incomplete puzzle. So that’s how I see our team, that every single role is as important as any other role, including ourselves. We are no more important than anyone else,” she says and Mike adds, “you hear me say a thousand times that we don’t have a single person that works for us. They work with us”.
Accountability is another important piece of the puzzle and Mike says they have built-in ways to make sure that everyone on the team is accountable to each other. Because there is often a natural strain between operations and sales, they set up a system in which operations gives sales a report card on everything they turn in. “They’re all on a team. Sales people want to do good but they can get sloppy. So it forces them to tighten up and forces them to learn when they put something in that wasn’t quite right or complete. It gives them an opportunity to always be growing and changing but it also gives our operations team a voice,” says Mike.
Another key element is hiring the right people, which Mike calls the hardest part of his job. In a team concept if you make a bad hire, everyone on the team suffers. That is why everyone on the Parker Mortgage Team is engaged in the hiring process. Those applicants that make it to the last rounds find themselves answering rapid fire questions from twenty to thirty people. And the applicant’s significant other also gets interviewed because a team member’s family is considered part of the team as well.
Parker Mortgage and Parker Media are making a big move in 2017 and with it making a huge commitment to the city of Noblesville. The Partins have purchased two buildings on the Noblesville Square at 950 and 960 Logan Street. Owning a building on the square has long been a dream of theirs. ”Old town still has that small town vibe that you can connect with,” says Tawni, who adds, “we really wanted to nest but be a meaningful part of the community and we have lots of plans for other ways we can positively impact the community.” For starters, they are spending $400,000 on renovations and hope to be finished for a March or April move-in date. One of the buildings has been empty for some time and Mike and Tawni relish the idea of taking something that hasn’t been utilized well and making it useful again. They plan to continue to rent space to the Platinum Living art gallery that currently has space on the ground floor but also create more retail space for other businesses. They even talk of opening a restaurant and a distillery in the future. Watch out Noblesville because Mike has plans. “Our goal I think is to not just be someone that is in downtown, our goal is to be a fixture in downtown. I want to be someone that is driving the future of downtown Noblesville.”
By Ann Craig-Cinnamon
Photos by Stan Gurka