Cheers to 25 Years
What started as a few guys in an office space too small for everyone to have a desk, has grown to an industry-leading team of more than 1,000 employees across part of the country.
Since the very beginning, Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group has fostered a sense of family and valued close-knit relationships amongst team members. After all, Brian Holland started the business in 1996 and then shortly after welcomed his brother, Stan Holland, along with their father, Butch, who spent some time in the mortgage business alongside them.
The first office was a tiny space that didn’t even have enough room for everyone to have their own desk or equipment. Stan recalled his first months working in the office with his brother, and “he was pretty strict actually!” Team members didn’t have much space to work, budgets were tight, and expectations were high.
“Brian was tough. You couldn’t get a chair until you took an application, and you didn’t earn a desk until you hit a certain volume,” Stan reflected. “You had to wear a tie and business attire, but you might not have a desk or chair.”
Marketing was a lot different back then, so Brian wanted to be sure that people took his team seriously when out in public. From Best of the Beach Awards 10 years in a row to running print advertisements, he was working hard to ensure his team was poised to succeed long-term. Behind the scenes, he was making sure his team was being held accountable and meeting projections. And if they hadn’t been met, they were racking their brains on how to get there.
“Every week Brian would have our projections listed right up on the board. If you didn’t hit your projections, you had some explaining to do. And then we got to work on how we were going to make up the difference,” Stan recalled.
The company was clearly laser-focused on Sales – taking applications, processing them, closing loans, repeat. Websites were just becoming a thing, and there was no social media. If someone needed a home loan or wanted to refinance back in the late 1990s, they were likely asking around to friends and family or they were picking up the good old-fashioned phonebook to search for options. With a bunch of small mortgage broker shops around, Brian knew he had to help his company stand out from the rest if he was ever going to grow to the next level.
“Everyone advertised in the Yellow Pages back in the day, and I didn’t want to come up with a company name that would land us in the back of the phone book, so Atlantic Bay we became,” Brian says. “That was the quickest and easiest way to start getting our name out there and keep it top of mind, even though that doesn’t seem like a groundbreaking idea nowadays.”
Name recognition carried so much weight back in the early days (and still does!), and the values that have continued to build behind it have truly propelled Atlantic Bay to be the brand and organization we are today.
Growth has always been at the center of the company and seeing team members build their skillsets and careers has forever been a passion for Brian and Stan.
“When we opened the Roanoke office, sure, we were freaking out. All we could do was look at the numbers with a fine-toothed comb and conserve wherever possible. Brian was 24 and he was still in that thrifty college-student mindset, but it was just the mindset we needed,” Stan reflected.
Atlantic Bay went on to open a third office, then a fourth, and now Atlantic Bay has Sales, Operations and Corporate team members sprinkled all over the country, especially along the Eastern coast.
“When we first started opening new offices, we would transplant someone into this new space to try to train up a team. We quickly realized that didn’t work,” Stan reflected.
Atlantic Bay is focused on adapting a localized experience for the communities we live and lend in, and that means creating a team of local lenders and support team members – in order to truly be a genuine part of each region we serve.
“From that point on, our model has really revolved around finding the right people and building relationships with individuals and teams of people who align with the Atlantic Bay vision and core values,” Brian added.
The three Atlantic Bay core values are the nucleus of the organization – and they truly guide everything we do as a company. The genuine care, growth mindset, and fun behind the work we do is something important to Brian and Stan, and it is something we look for in every team member we hire.
“Someone can be a top producer or have a ton of experience, but if it’s not going to be a culture fit, it’s not going to work out,” Stan added.
Brian has been known to say it time and time again that core values shouldn’t be something written on the wall or simply listed on a website – they should be lived out in everything we do as a business and as individuals. And when it comes to hiring, we want to make sure we have the right people who are willing to work towards a shared vision. If it’s not a culture fit, it’s probably not going to work out.
Finding a work and life integration that is healthy and manageable for each team member is a big focus for Brian and Stan. This integration goes beyond a typical work-life balance and truly encourages Atlantic Bay team members to set goals, define boundaries, and develop a system that works best for them.
Team members are encouraged to use their PTO, Diversity Day, Volunteer Day, Birthday Vacation Days, and sick time as needed – and are supported through a variety of physical, mental, and financial wellness offerings, too.
“I don’t want to miss the important stuff like soccer games and school events, and our team members shouldn’t either,” Brian encouraged.
Being a great parent, family member, community volunteer, or friend shouldn’t be sacrificed all for working – a conducive and successful balance is indeed possible when everyone is committed to achieving that balance.
“That balance has truly motivated our people to work harder in their job and achieve better results because they are afforded those opportunities to still do all the other things life requires them to do,” Stan said.
Both brothers share an excitement for the future of Atlantic Bay and are encouraged by the momentum the company has built, especially over the last couple of years.
“If we focus on our people and continue to give them what they need by helping them grow while also adding more great people... it’s a formula for success for any industry across the board. People’s needs are changing and we recognize that. We want to be there for what our people need. We aren’t focused on the competition whatsoever – we’re focused on our people and the people we serve,” Stan summarized.
Atlantic Bay has grown to levels Brian and Stan couldn’t have foreseen or dreamt of back in the late 1990’s as they argued over what to play on the stereo in their tiny office and hit up happy hours at the spot next door.
With a continued commitment to team members, borrowers, and industry partners, we look forward to an even better 25 years to come.