Becki Mielke already knew what it was like to work for Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. during her good times. Then she learned what it was like during one of her worst times.
On the job as an accounting assistant for just four months in January, she was at her desk when the call came that her father had died suddenly at his home in Pardeeville.
"I couldn't tell you how many people came to me, and many of them didn't even know me," Mielke says.
"They took care of me. One of them drove me to Pardeeville and someone else drove my car to my home in Columbus. Then some showed up with the back of a Jeep loaded with food."
It is the Fairway culture that repeatedly comes up when employees talk about why they work there, and many point to owner Steve Jacobson as the catalyst.
Fairway has more than 250 branches and more than 1,300 loan officers nationwide, with 136 employees in the Madison area. The corporation, licensed in all 50 states, almost doubled revenue in 2015, and the Madison corporate headquarters will complete its new 90,000-square-foot administrative building in September 2017 across the street from its current site.
Established more than 20 years ago, Fairway has funded more than $50 billion in loans—more than $11 billion last year alone.
But it's not just the financial success that attracted benefits manager Kris Kreuger, who joined the company at the end of 2015.
"I grew up as an Air Force brat and Fairway has a close link with the military," Kreuger says, noting that all veterans are given the day off with pay on Veterans Day. Employees who donate one day's pay to a charity are given a paid day off.
"To work here, you have to be the type of person that enjoys making another person's life better," Kreuger says.
Fun fact: Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. established "A Week of Joy" earlier this year. Some employees were given small gift cards to encourage them to help make someone else's life better. Some gave crossing guards a pat on the back, some paid the Starbucks tab for the person behind them in line.