Happy Lucky 13, radius!

Sarah and Keith 1

Originally posted on November 12, 2012

Thirteen seems to be our lucky number at radius. Thirteen years ago, we launched the company with 13 employees, working out of temporary office space with four desks and phones on each side. The phone lines were split, so that at any given moment one of us could be seen sprinting across the room to answer one. It was a chaotic and stressful time, but also incredibly exciting and in hindsight, pretty comical.

Thirteen years later, we have more than 80 employees and seven offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire (and a lot more phones and desks), with a lot more stability and structure and no plans of slowing down.

But no matter how much we continue to grow and change, our core values of service and integrity – which radius was founded upon – continue to guide everything we do. That’s incredibly important to me and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of.

As we’ve evolved over time, we’ve tried hard to maintain a small company feel, but the reality is that we’re no longer the start-up we used to be. This particularly struck me one day this past summer when I was walking through the office. I passed someone typing away at her computer and had absolutely no idea who she was.

I’m a pretty down-to-earth person who never aspired to being “above” anyone or anything. But in that moment, that’s exactly how I felt and it was a total shock to the system.

For many years, I personally knew each and every person who worked at radius and they knew me. I realize that that level of contact and connection may not be realistic anymore, but to me, it’s one of the most unfortunate consequences of corporate growth.

Along with feeling sad that this person was a stranger to me, I knew she didn’t know me either and probably didn’t know our company’s history. I also realized she was not alone. There are many newer faces at radius who don’t know how we began or why. So for all of those people, and for our valued, long-time employees and partners who know us well and may enjoy a trip down memory lane, here’s our story:

In 1999, Keith Polaski and I worked for a mortgage company, which was a whole-owned subsidiary of a Fortune 100 company. The industry landscape was dramatically shifting. Traditionally, mortgage lending had been completely customer service driven. It was now beginning to center around meeting management objectives. This new playing field completely disregarded the very consumers who’d helped the company grow and succeed.

Keith and I were at a crossroads. We could either move to another large mortgage banking company and deal with similar issues and practices (given the economic climate at the time), or we could take an enormous leap of faith, bringing all the solid underwriting and customer service practices we’d built our careers around, and start our own company to ensure that those fundamental values and principles were never compromised.

The choice was easy. We brought along a small group of star employees who believed in us and shared our core values, and radius was born 13 years ago almost to the day.

At the time, many of our friends and family thought we were nuts. Keith and I had abandoned high paying positions and could have sailed along without taking on all the risk and unknowns of launching a new business.

Since then, Keith has been an amazing business partner. While we haven’t always agreed (we have boxing gloves in the office and we’ve used them), we’ve been able to find common ground because our values and goals are fully aligned.

In particular, we’ve always agreed that with the right team of talented and dedicated employees, we could maintain a level of mortgage lending services people need and deserve.

I’m fully convinced that the unrelenting hard work and dedication of those 13 people who first jumped on board with us not only helped us successfully launch radius and deliver on those principles, but also drove us through countless challenges and obstacles in the years ahead.

Those 13 people, most of whom still work at radius, continue to play an integral role in helping us navigate today’s tumultuous mortgage climate. And they serve as role models for the types of employees we’ve continued to hire.

Today, we have an incredible team that brings their talent and commitment to radius each and every day and largely reflect the work ethic of our original 13. They are the backbone for the service and quality we continue to offer our customers.

I hope to maintain some level of connection with all our employees as we move ahead, even if it’s in the most basic form of knowing their names and saying a quick hello in the hallway, as I quickly made an effort to do with the “stranger” I passed a few months back.

Because as big as radius may get, our core values among our clients, partners and employees alike will always remain the same: Treat people with honesty and respect and they will do the same by you.

So to all the people we work with at radius, thank you for getting us to lucky 13 and here’s to many more years to come.

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