Gateway Funding: 20 years and counting

by MPA14 Jul 2014
Three people and a dream. That’s how Gateway was created. President and CEO Bruno Pasceri describes this dream as a simple one – to build a company with strong values that could be passed on to our children with pride and this dream is alive and well 20 years later. Today Gateway Funding is licensed in 44 states with over 80 branches and is continuing to grow. Gateway is direct seller/servicer to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae with over $1,000,000,000 in their servicing portfolio.

Pasceri has a unique business model and runs Gateway more as a family than a national corporation. “We are a company with 1940s values. When I am speaking to a recruit I look for integrity, character and family values that will result in a lifelong partnership. I want my employees to contribute to the growth and development of Gateway.”

This model has created an open door policy unheard of at other corporations. A quick walk through their Horsham, Pennsylvania headquarters proves just that. There are no closed office doors allowing for everyone from the bottom up to openly communicate with the Senior Team – right up to Pasceri himself.

The family atmosphere is one of the key pieces that truly sets Gateway apart from the competition. The loyalty that is built is almost unheard of in this industry. “I think our average tenure of employment is so high because of the mutual respect we have for our employees,” Pasceri claims. “No one is a number here and we make that known. For us, our employees are our customers. We work for them, not vice versa and the key component to any successful company is our culture.”

Giving Back

Culture for Gateway goes beyond being able to talk to the CEO at any hour and stretches into supporting their employees through personal struggles. Gateway Cares is a division of Gateway Funding that works to help those in need. The monetary support raised through this program is provided by the Gateway community and matched by corporate. In 2012, one of their loan officers based out of their Hunt Valley, Maryland office lost her home in a fire. Less than 24 hours later, a plan was set in motion through Gateway Cares, to provide her and her family with some hope during their time of need. Employees from all over the county, whether they knew this loan officer personally or had never heard of her, donated clothing, blankets and money to this family.

Gateway Cares was first organized after a customer, three months after closing, was deployed to Iraq and killed. Gateway Funding organized and sponsored a golf outing to raise money for an education fund for his children. Raising over $50,000, it was evident that the Gateway community was capable of changing lives outside of just homeownership. The selflessness of the community laid the groundwork for what today is called Gateway Cares (www.gatewaycares.com). In honor of the start of this movement, every year around the holidays Gateway “adopts” four military families with deployed parents and supplies them with their presents of their choosing.

Gateway Cares over the years has developed into so much more. This program now organizes annual events such as “Pink Day” for breast cancer research and awareness and requests that all employees wear pink. Gateway Cares also supports organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Wounded Warrior Project and continues to add charities that they feel passionate about while continuing to support their employees in need.

After typhoon Haiyan destroyed the lives of thousands in the Philippines, one employee with family that had been affected, stepped forward to organize a donation drive through Gateway Cares. Hundreds of care packages, stuffed with everything from toiletries and clothing to coloring books for children, were created and shipped. Through the help of this employee’s family, packages were distributed to residents in remote locations throughout the country that might not have otherwise received help so quickly, if at all.

Most recently, the Gateway community came together to support a fallen family member. An underwriter at just 30 years old, passed away suddenly leaving his wife and two year old son behind. The following week, Gateway Cares set up a fundraiser for his family and within 24 hours raised over $25,000. In the end, the total donations including what Gateway matched were split into a college fund for the son and a check for his wife to alleviate the financial stress as she focused on her family. Like the employee whose home burned down, few people knew this man or his family. The generosity and selflessness of the Gateway community is something Pasceri is extremely proud of. “This is what I want our company to be.”

Employee Retention

Gateway Funding is proud of the fact that it’s first producing sales manager, Lauren Suhre, hired back at the company’s inception in 1994 and its first recruited branches are still part of the family. Today Suhre is a National Recruiter for Gateway, and she helps to grow and develop the company.

The first branch Gateway ever recruited is still managed by Tony Pacifico. Annually, Pacifico is one of Gateway’s top producing branches and thanks Gateway for all of the support over the years. “From the top down, the support at Gateway is incomparable to other companies I’ve seen,” Pacifico explains. “Senior Management definitely cares and you can feel that. They are consistently doing the right things to help us gain more business and grow our branches. When Gateway says that they will do something, it’s a trust thing; you know it will get done.” It is a priority at Gateway, with branches from California to Massachusetts that no one feels like they are alone on an island.  

Like all companies, there have been employees that have left thinking that the grass is greener but unlike other companies, a large percentage end up returning. Kelli Ryan, after working for Gateway for 10 years, decided she wanted to explore her options. After only five months, she realized she had made a mistake and asked if she could return. Both Gateway and Ryan couldn’t be happier. “I’m just glad to be home,” Ryan explains.  

Part of the retention Gateway has can be attributed to the opportunities they offer their employees. Sergio Pinto started with Gateway Funding in 2000 when his longtime friend asked him to work in the copy room with him. After noticing his hard work, the Vice President of Capital Markets, Sandi Sicilia, promoted Pinto and moved him into the Secondary Market Department. From there, he continued to move up the ranks and is currently one of the top loan officers at Gateway. For him, it is the environment that has kept him at the same company all these years.

“Everyone says it,” Pinto explains, “but it’s really true. I have known the people I work with for years and we are a family.” Born in Portugal, originating mortgages is much more than a pay check for Pinto. “I moved to the United States when I was 11 years old. I’m a people person so being able to talk to people every day and help them achieve the ‘American dream’ is the greatest part of my job.”

The loyalty from their sales team and employees is what Pasceri believes led Gateway to successfully maneuver the meltdown. “Our employees could have left us but instead they believed in us, in Gateway, we rode it through. That belief and support is something I am truly thankful for. I can never repay them for their loyalty. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

It also helps that Gateway Funding has always been a purchase driven company. Even during the refinance boom, it was important to the branches and Senior Team, that the focus be on purchases, seeing that the purchase market would be one of the keys to long term success. Gateway Funding is a company that is always looking forward, building something they can proudly pass down to future generations. 

Awards

This past year, Gateway Funding has won a significant number of awards. For the third year in a row they have been listed as one of the Top 100 Mortgage Companies in America, and were listed as one of Philly.com’s Top Workplaces. Gateway received a perfect score from their sales team for another award from Mortgage Executive Magazine ranking Gateway as one of the Top 50 Best Places to Work and for that, they are humbled and honored. “We work for our employees so for them to recognize us is truly an honor,” Pasceri says, who was himself listed as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Mortgage Executives by Mortgage Executive Magazine.

Though the awards and accolades are nice trophies to hang, what they really signify is the validation that the company and its vision are not only working but growing. 20 years ago a dream was envisioned by three people. That dream grew into a company that has had its ups and downs, weathered storms and meltdowns, has persevered through one of the harshest climates this industry has seen, and now stands strong and firm as a testament to the hard work and commitment to those who gave it. There are many reasons Gateway has succeeded for 20 years, however one of the biggest reasons is its commitment to be more like a family than a corporation and treat its employees as such. Integrity, character and family values are alive and thriving at Gateway Funding.
 

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