Even in a tough economic environment, Doug Schukar believes that his company’s message has been heard loud and clear. “There is a better way to buy a home,” he says. “And it’s a feather in our cap that homeowners and potential buyers are turning to us for that better option.”
Last month, Schukar’s company, St. Louis-based USA Mortgage, topped the $1 billion mark in retail loan volume, making it the only mortgage bank in the area to reach that milestone. He says a satisfied client base helped secure the company’s dominance in the St. Louis market. “The significance of this in a refinance market is that these are all repeat customers—people we’ve taken care of in the past.”
Schukar, president/CEO of USA Mortgage, credits its employees for much of that success. “In early 2008, when the subprime crisis really blew up, we saw an opportunity to build a hard-working, talented and customer-focused team,” he says. “Because of the changes imposed by the federal government, many mortgage brokers were going by the wayside. We sought them out, interviewed them and found the right matches to build our team.”
By ‘cherry-picking’ the best employees in St. Louis, Schukar says USA Mortgage doubled the number of its loan officers and spread to nine locations. He singles out executive VP/COO Linda Pring as a leader in ensuring customer satisfaction. “She’s really the engine that makes the train run,” he says. The team also includes 100 loan officers. “They are our eyes and ears on the street—they pound the pavement,” Schukar says, adding that the way the company is set up is instrumental to its success. “Our business comes from a trusted point of referral. We have no clever jingles or infomercials. It’s our people who make it happen.”
As a mortgage bank, USA Mortgage is able to control all aspects of a home loan, Schukar notes. “Our loan officers, processors and underwriters are employed in-house. They can approve the loan, and our closers close it,” he says. “We’re funded by our own money—that’s our competitive advantage. We can take your loan application right now and close it tomorrow.” USA Mortgage also has its own title insurance and appraisal company, offering clients cost-efficiency and convenience.
Schukar says his team works to make the loan process a dynamic and positive experience. “Our goal is to provide the ultimate customer experience,” he says. “The relationship doesn’t end at the closing table. We want every client to be a customer for life.”