Kevin Parra: Creating the culture and strategy that has driven Plaza’s success
When we started Plaza Home Mortgage 20 years ago, James Cutri and I knew what kind of company we wanted Plaza to be, but I don’t know that we realized we’d grow into the company that we are today.
James and I worked together at another mortgage company prior to Plaza which, not coincidentally, was called Plaza Lending! There was a terrific culture there and so we knew how important it would be to replicate it and we understood the importance of having skilled, happy associates. Our thinking was, and still is, that if you treat your associates right, they in turn will treat your clients and borrowers the same way. Our “clients first” mantra was there from the beginning, and we set out to create a company and culture that would attract the best talent and be a place that people wanted to work.
I’m incredibly proud of our associates and what we’ve been able to build together. Many of our associates and managers have been with Plaza for more than a decade, and the average tenure of our underwriters, processors, Account Executives and Operations teams is more than five years. This is worth noting in our industry, and to me, speaks to the quality of the culture that we’ve built. And it directly benefits our clients because of the experience and expertise that Plaza is able to bring to the TPO (Third Party Originator) lending space.
In the last 20 years we’ve faced plenty of challenges, but probably the biggest test was the mortgage crisis of 2008. It was a devastating time for the industry, and unfortunately many of our peers were unable to weather the storm. I believe what guided us through it was that James, Mike Fontaine and I have always had a good feel for the market. We were mindful of risk, we spread our business across a number of warehouse lenders and we weren’t afraid to take a conservative “make sense” approach to what products we offered during that time. We all had faith that Plaza would make it, and we knew that it would be worth it to stay focused to see the company through the recession.
In looking back, our growth and our sustainability demonstrate that we’ve done a lot of things right, and I know our experience and culture will keep us on our current trajectory and keep us growing. I am excited for what the next 20 years will bring for Plaza, our clients, our partners and our associates. We plan to be around for the long haul.
- November, 2020