Cheers to 25 Years
It's a Family Affair
It might sound cliché, but we love our work family! And for two Atlantic Bay employees, their work family is their real family, too!
The business practice of hiring more than one person from the same family is becoming increasingly more common in the United States. As of 2021, as much as 60% of the U.S. work force is employed by a family-owned business. Additionally, around 74% of those who work for a family-owned business reported they feel a strong sense of culture and value entrenched in all the company’s operations and everything it produces.
Now, you may be wondering, how does Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group fit into both of those statistics? From 1996 to the current day, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Holland and his brother, President Stan Holland, have stood commandingly at the company’s helm. Yes, the company may technically fall under the sweeping category of a “family-run business,” but even if our CEO and President were not related, one could make the case it’s the bloodlines within Atlantic Bay that make a significant contribution to the company feeling, acting, and operating as one huge family.
You don’t have to go digging very deep to find a string of family members among our list of 1,000 energetic employees. In fact, look no further than two of the company’s brightest women. Sue Peach, the Processing Transition Coach, is the mother of Jennifer Hodges, the Vice President (VP) of Operational Integration. We spoke with them to hear their individual perspectives on how it is to work for a company alongside a family member.
An Atlantic Bay Lineage
In January 1998, Sue officially began her tenure at Atlantic Bay. “I started at a local bank right out of high school, years and years ago. I was eventually promoted to the mortgage department, and that’s where I’ve felt at home ever since,” she said. Six years later, Jennifer applied to the very same company her mother worked for, and very shortly after, she was hired. When asked why she chose to apply, Jennifer said, “my mother!”
“I started as a receptionist, actually,” she continued. “Then a loan officer assistant, then processor, then underwriter, and on up.” Normally, the mother-daughter bond is well-founded, but the added element of working for the same company allows the two women to cultivate something even more special.
Although we always prioritize hiring from within to grow and mature our talented employees, we also trust the recommendations of our team members. Sometimes, they can be family members! If they have the right skills and are hungry for improvement, we have a spot for them.
Families that Work Together...
This is the first time Sue and Jennifer have had the pleasure of working together, even if they don’t meet face to face every day. “Jennifer and I used to work together when we were both in the Processing Department,” explained Sue. “We both work for Operations, but we’re in separate departments, now.”
“And now that everyone’s remote, I rarely get the chance to talk to or see her each day,” added Jennifer. “When we were in the office, Sue and I would sometimes have lunch together and catch up, but that was the only time I really saw her during the day.” They reminisced about the extra time they got to spend together prior to the pandemic and how it was so fun to share these work-life memories together.
We’ve all heard the phrase “make yourself at home,” but one time, Jennifer really did. The two women laughed as Jennifer recalled a time when she felt right at home in the Virginia Beach office. “When I was a receptionist, I answered phone calls for my mother all the time. I never called her ‘mom’ in the office, but one time I let it slip. I answered the phone and said, ‘Mom, phone call!’ I think I heard everyone in the building laugh.
As a family-owned business with many real families working alongside each other, those little moments are what make Atlantic Bay feel more like home. No pressure, low-key, and most important, fun!
Of course, there are benefits to working for the same company as a member of your family. “When we were in the office, I got to see my mother when I otherwise wouldn’t have seen her at all. For Atlantic Bay’s functions, we can travel together,” said Jennifer.
Sue expanded on Jennifer’s thoughts. “The two of us can easily draw the line between work and family relationships, but like Jennifer said, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some things together, too. Several years ago, Jennifer and I miraculously won the Sales Trip drawing. They take a few people from Operations each year, and out of the around 200 eligible people, we both won by the luck of the draw. So, we were able to make that trip together.” They reminisced about lifelong memories from that trip – and how grateful they were to Atlantic Bay for giving them such a special experience together.
Despite having their hands in distinctly different aspects of the company, they were quick to inform us of what they’ve learned about each other over the years. “I learned my mom is a fantastic coach and trainer,” said Jennifer. Because of feedback from peers and interactions with her counterparts, Jennifer has learned these details about her mother she wouldn’t have known otherwise.
“I’ve always been impressed with Jennifer’s determination,” continued Sue. “They work through their positions and improve themselves constantly.” As she spoke about “her girl,” Sue was beaming. It was clear she was elated by how Jennifer had grown since her early days with Atlantic Bay.
Advice for Other Families
Because it’s not overly common for different generations to work for the same company, we wanted to get their advice on how to find a work-life balance when your personal life is a part of your professional life. “I keep work and family life separate,” said Jennifer. “For some people, it might be hard to flip that switch from mother or brother to coworker, but it has to be done for any professional setting. When I became a processor, we made sure Sue didn’t train me to avoid any conflict of interest.”
Sue, a veteran of the industry, also gave her perspective. “Life is too short. You should always work for a company that cares about their people. One that’s not always focusing on the bottom line.”
"Atlantic Bay is like a family, so I’ve always felt like I’ve been appreciated and had a voice here.”
“And it starts from the top down,” Jennifer added. “Look at Brian and Stan. They’re family, but they care about their people like they were family too.”
What About the Rest of Us?
Hearing the different, yet aligning, perspectives on working every day for a company alongside a family member from Sue and Jennifer reiterates one statement made earlier. The bloodlines within the company are a major factor in making the company feel as family oriented as it does. But that responsibility doesn’t fall solely on Atlantic Bay’s employed bloodlines. You could say it takes a One-Team Approach to create the family atmosphere many employees have come to love and appreciate. Not everyone in the company is related, and that’s completely fine.
Titles are a part of the job, but they don’t define our relationships with one another. We’re one team. It’s about how every single person lives by the core values that makes every connection and relationship much more meaningful.
The Core Values and Family
Genuinely caring, inspiring growth, and having fun are at the core of this company for a reason, and they branch out to everything we do.
In the case of family, each core value represents the makeup of what most people would consider “a family.” You genuinely care for one another, you inspire each other to always get better, and you easily have fun along the way. The core values are the reason everyone within Atlantic Bay can refer to the company as “one big happy family.” And although Sue and Jennifer are related by blood, we’re pretty sure they would agree!