As a mortgage lender that strives to give its customers personalized service, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. says it also approaches its employees with the same level of care.
“It’s always been our charge to not only give a ‘10’ experience to our consumers,” says Julie Fry, executive vice president of human resources and organizational development at Fairway, “but we forge along every single day always with the goal to give a ‘10’ experience to our employees as well.”
Fairway is a national corporation with two headquarters: one on Madison’s east side and the other in Carrollton, Texas. The company, which has three Dane County locations, tops Madison Magazine’s Best Places to Work listing for the second year in a row. Employees say the company has a positive work culture and they credit the company’s leadership, especially CEO Steve Jacobson, a Pardeeville native who now lives in Texas, with setting the tone. Jacobson’s frequent presence in the Madison office and contact with employees is “one of the biggest things that keeps the culture and that family feel,” says Fry.
Employee perks at Fairway include free massages, a fitness center accessible all week, a library and an on-site pub that can be used for meetings—things they started at the previous Madison headquarters and continue to offer at the new building, which opened in September.
Kalyn Lewis, an organizational development specialist, says the company culture and perks were the vision of Jacobson, whom she credits with fostering a positive workplace since the company started in 1996. “He wanted to create that culture of taking care of people, making them feel at home, making them feel valued and providing opportunities for them that keep them happy and healthy,” Lewis says. That kind of atmosphere inspires people to do better work and feel good about it, she says.
Liz Steinhaus, deputy general counsel for the company and CEO of Fairway Cares, one of the company’s nonprofit initiatives, says Fairway offers employees opportunities to develop personally and professionally. “I’ve worked at a lot of different companies and that isn’t necessarily something that a lot of employers find important,” says Steinhaus. Fairway Cares, launched in February 2016, provides care packages and financial support for those with chronic or terminal illnesses, physical trauma or who have lost a family member regardless of what community they are located in throughout the U.S.
Fairway is also involved in the community, which employees seem to appreciate. In addition to Fairway Cares, Fairway also created the American Warrior Initiative. Through AWI, Fairway offers specialized training to real estate agents on selling homes to veterans. AWI also provides service dogs to veterans—made possible in large part through employee donations.
Savannah Hauglid, events and marketing coordinator who has been at the company’s Sun Prairie branch since May 2016, says the company continues to try to build on its success: “They’re always in the process of creating something better for Fairway.”
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