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NO. 4 MIDSIZE | Fairway’s culture, values get high marks as company grows

From the Shining stars: Meet the Madison area's Top Workplaces series
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The headquarters of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation is located in the American Center business park and, in normal times, is home to 272 of the company’s 9,300 employees. The firm’s attention to its workplace culture has been recognized nationally. 

Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation values humility and customer service in a culture that has buy-in from CEO Steve Jacobson to the newest employee.

It’s that embrace of the culture carefully cultivated by leadership that drives employee engagement and satisfaction at Fairway, company officials say.

“We do new-hire calls weekly, and he invites a group of people in and has an hourlong conversation with those newbies where they introduce themselves and he’s able to share his philosophy for running the business,” said Julie Fry, chief human resources officer at the firm’s Madison headquarters.

Spreading the Fairway culture is important as it grows. The company has about 270 Madison employees, and 9,329 nationally — growing by about 1,500 in the last year.

“We talk a lot about humility and service,” said Fry. “Our values aren’t just on the wall. They’re immersed in our communication. They’re immersed in our verbal meetings. They are front and center in everything we do.”

And they are having an influence. Fairway scored for the third consecutive year in the regional Top Workplaces rankings and the company was rated the top-ranked large company by its far-flung employees in this year’s first-ever Top Workplace USA national rankings.

“Our culture definitely permeates across the nation,” Fry said. “What you find in Madison is essentially what you’ll find anywhere you go in Fairway.”

Because of the growing demand and competition in the mortgage marketplace, Fry said, Fairway has emphasized employee retention and development. Fairway uses a digital staff development and coaching platform to develop employee leadership.

“We’ve done a good job in 2020 building our bench,” she said. “Going as fast as we go, we really have to embrace empowerment and allowing people to make decisions. We are in an environment where we embrace mistakes because we learn from those mistakes and it only makes us better.”

The company is also fortifying its efforts in diversity and inclusion, establishing employee committees to work in five different areas, and has appointed 100 employees as diversity and inclusion ambassadors, Fry said.



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