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Top Workplaces 2022: In good times and bad, New American Funding runs ‘with heart’

Professional growth, healthy job-life balance and meaningful work are among the reasons employees at New American Funding say they love what they do.

The Top Workplaces recognition this year isn’t a one-off either for the Tustin-based mortgage lender. NAF has earned a spot among the county’s best places to work for the last decade. The company’s leaders consistently attribute their award-winning corporate culture to the family-like atmosphere they’ve created.

Coming off the last several years of record growth and new milestones, NAF, like many mortgage lenders, faced challenges this year amid high inflation and rising interest rates. That’s led to some 900 layoffs across the country and restructuring, said NAF President Patty Arvielo, who co-founded the company with her husband, Rick.

“It’s been extremely difficult for me this last month or so with having to lay off people,” Patty Arvielo said. “I think I run our company with my heart, and I think it’s pretty clear to everybody that works for me.”

That “family feel” at NAF, and running the company “with feeling and heart,” has been “core to who we are,” she said.

During this downturn in the market, Patty Arvielo said communication with her employees is more important than ever. The message she is trying to convey is: “This too shall pass.”

Despite the shifts in the industry this year, employees in a survey said they enjoyed their day-to-day work and felt supported by their bosses and colleagues.

“I am proud of the work I do and have an amazing NAF Family that [I] love and support and they do the same for me,” one employee wrote in a survey response. “I laugh all day and genuinely come happy to work every day.”

During the economic downturn in the real estate market in 2022, Patty Arvielo said communication with her employees at New American Funding is more important than ever. The message she is trying to convey is: “This too shall pass.” (Courtesy of New American Funding)

Arvielo spoke more about NAF in an interview with the Register. Her answers have been edited for length.

Q: What makes New American Funding a place where people want to work? 

A: I wasn’t always an entrepreneur, I actually was an employee for 15 years in the mortgage industry before we started our own. And I remember when we first started to build the company, everybody’s like, ‘Oh, you’re never gonna be able to keep this family feel.’

And we had, like, 100 people and they would say that then we went to 200, 500, a thousand. We still kept getting the fact that we have a very family feel. And I think that’s because it’s very intentional. When you have male-female owners, especially male-female that are married, and we’re pretty transparent on what’s important to us, it kind of just permeates through the company.

So I think when you look up and you see that family is like core to who we are, it just continues to be a part of our DNA.

Q: All companies have faced shifting priorities with the pandemic. How have these changes, like moving to a hybrid or remote environment, changed your business for better or worse?

A: It’s like a roller coaster, this work hybrid. I think that there are different facets of the company that thrive working remote, and there are certain facets of the company – especially when salespeople want to compete – that have done much better coming back to work.

So we really went department by department and looked at what type of personality types we had working, what were their needs at home. I think this hybrid work environment has done a great deal of support for women who have children, of course. We didn’t make one statement or a be-all ‘end all kind’ of policy.

Q: With mortgage rates climbing this year, how has your company been responding to these market changes? Has it been challenging?

A: I’m probably the only one who’s going to say it’s been emotionally challenging. You build something up and you take pride in what you built and then you have to take it down. It’s like putting up the Christmas tree and you’re kind of bummed when you have to take it down.

At the end of the day, we have to do what’s right for the business. The business caters to many families (and) delivers the dream of homeownership to many families. We’ve kept our platform very viable.

We’re going to be celebrating our 20th year next year. We’re a very sustainable, well-run platform and that has to be the be-all right now. We have to make sure that we continue building a sustainable platform, so then when the market does turn around we’re that place that can offer employment to the people that are now displaced by the industry.

It’s unfortunate, it’s the biggest downfall of owning a mortgage company is when we come up to cycles like this, letting go of people or having to part ways with talented people and then the impact that has on their families very hard.

Large companies: 3rd place

New American Funding

Founded: 2003

Industry: mortgage lending

Headquarters: Tustin

OC employees: 843

Website: newamericanfunding.com

Quote: “You build something up and you take pride in what you built and then you have to take it down. At the end of the day, we have to do what’s right for the business.” — Patty Arvielo, NAF president

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