When William “Toby” Harris co-founded Movement Mortgage, in the midst of the 2008 mortgage crises, this company had no special rates and no backing.
The state of the industry was “painful” at best, with a reported 8 million people who lost their jobs and 6 million people who lost their homes.
“We had nothing except a vision and a passion to start a company,” Harris told guests of Regent University’s Executive Leadership Series (ELS) on Wednesday, March 22.
But Harris and his partner held fast to their “magic of vision” in a time when many mortgage companies were simply trying to keep their businesses running.
He also had a challenge that was unheard of for his employees: while his competitors were processing loans in 90 days and increasing to 120 days, his loan processors were given the goal to complete theirs within seven.
This, according to Harris, was the key to the company’s growth, which now boasts funding more than one billion dollars in home mortgages a month, and 4,500 employees serving in 45 states.
The company has come a long way since its early days, when Harris held interviews for his employees in a local Starbucks – as an homage to those early days, he passes out gift cards to the coffee store to those he connects with.
“Everything in our business is about relationships,” said Harris, who set off to create a culture within his company based on servant leadership.
“There are two types of employees in our company, the loan officers and the rest of us who work for them,” said Harris, who explained that businesses can see how effective their servant leadership mentality is treating their company by watching how their employees treat each other.
He holds fast to his principle that he, as Movement Mortgage’s co-founder, co-owner and executive vice president, is there to serve his employees. So much so that his cell phone number is printed in his employees’ handbook.
His heart for serving others goes beyond his own employees; through his business, he co-founded the Movement Foundation with his partner, Casey Crawford. Through the organization, Movement Foundation has invested more than 16 million dollars in individuals, ministry partners and organizations who share the same goal to put action behind their vision.
“Business is a service,” said Harris. “And as long as you are in step with God’s plan, it’s amazing what you can do with a vision.”
Each month, Regent’s ELS brings innovative and influential business men and women to discuss leadership principles for successful organizations. Next month’s ELS will feature the annual Townhall with Mayors of South Hampton Roads on Wednesday, April 12.