It was a year into the new millennium when Douglas Schukar and Linda Pring took ownership of USA Mortgage—little did they know they would be setting the pace in their industry less than 20 years later.
What started in 2001 as a small organization with 53 employees and a vision of being the number one lender in the St. Louis metropolitan area, has evolved immensely over the years. Today, USA Mortgage has more than 600 employees, 71 separate locations across 19 states, and well over 2 billion in total loan volume.
Even during the expected growing pains of a venture this size, USA Mortgage has been recognized for its culture and progression in the mortgage industry. Each year since 2001, USA Mortgage has been named among the top choices of residential leaders in the St. Louis metropolitan area by the St. Louis Business Journal. Since 2014, it has continually been recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of the best places to work. And for five years, USA Mortgage was named an INC. 5000 fastest-growing company.
Rather than revel in the organization’s past accomplishments, Doug and his team of leaders continue to look to the next steps they can take as an organization. “We’re building toward the future,” said SVP of Marketing and Sales, Ron Mueller. “We’re always ahead of the curve and we’ve been able to succeed and thrive because of that.”
USA Mortgage is investing in tomorrow through multiple ways that set the company apart from the small mom-and-pop shops and the unchanging multi-billion dollar organizations.
“We’ve invested heavily in technology, and it’s evolving the way we do business.”Douglas Schukar, President and CEO
Letting people make the difference.
Since the company’s founding, the employees at USA Mortgage have been at the forefront of the organization. In the words of Doug, “Family is the fundamental backbone of the organization. The only thing that sets us apart from the competition is our people.”
Instead of only using their words to build a family-like culture, the USA Mortgage leadership took a step toward the future by doing what few other mortgage companies have done. On December 31, 2017, Doug transferred 100% of his ownership to the DAS Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which made the company one of the industry’s first and only employee-owned and operated ESOPs.
In addition to being completely employee-owned, USA Mortgage has an employee-driven program where the entire organization willingly supports local charities. Employees have volunteered hundreds of hours and helped raise more than $100,000 for 25 local charities through fundraising and donations.
For USA Mortgage, the equation is simple: when the company thrives, everyone thrives.
“What comes from the people is tenacity and knowledge. From bringing in the loans to getting it over the finish line, it’s a team sport.”Ron Mueller, SVP of Sales and Marketing
Welcoming technology to the team.
Of course, keeping up with technology is a requirement for any organization of any industry, but USA Mortgage is interested in much more than what’s required. Leadership was looking to change its organization and its industry, and that’s why they ultimately went with Capacity.
“We’ve invested heavily in technology, and it’s evolving the way we do business,” said Doug.
In the mortgage industry, the average home loan takes more than two weeks to close and seven touches by team members. USA Mortgage’s goal was to shorten their loan processing times from weeks to days. And by shortening the loan process, they could reduce the number of touches per loan application while increasing the number of closed loans per loan officer.
Doug knew that streamlining the loan process would require a tool that could reduce the dependence that most loan officers have on back-office staff. By providing 24/7 access to information, from any device, Capacity is reducing the number of people that USA Mortgage team members have to interact with and the places they have to go to find the information necessary for loan processing. In a sense, Capacity operates as USA Mortgage’s extension of ownership—the team is now receiving knowledge on top of cash and dividends.
An example of the information that Capacity can quickly provide includes critical details in federal agency lending guidelines. If a loan officer is fielding a client’s questions, they can rely on Capacity for instant access to every answer found in key company apps like AllRegs and Ellie Mae.
“Capacity is really good at answering questions about loan guidelines. It saves a ton of time. And if it ever doesn’t know the answer to a question, it can find the person who does.”A USA Mortgage loan officer in an anonymous survey
Focusing on their people and technology enables USA Mortgage to be confident in customer satisfaction. Each employee at USA Mortgage is treated as a valuable part of a family and they have the tools they need to succeed—so customer satisfaction can stand as the main priority for everyone.
When employees are catered to, AI-powered technology is provided, and customer success is the main goal, operating as a full-service mortgage bank comes easy, which makes USA Mortgage a true industry leader.