Meet Our New COO Evan Kidwell
What’s your professional background? And how did you come to Griffin Funding?
I was in the legal industry for about seven years and I was responsible for operations, sales, team management, and culture. Just as I was looking to make a change, I was at a real estate conference and met the owner of a mortgage and real estate company. They were interested in learning about what I do and offered me the chance to do operations for their company of 40 employees and 500 agents, and I loved it.
That was around six years ago and I came to Griffin about one and a half years ago because I knew Bill and I would make a great team. We sort of balance out each other’s management style and we both believe in a team first motto and a mission to help the community.
What are some challenges due to the pandemic and how are you taking them on?
We have a wonderful mix of personalities at this company and it’s a main focus of mine to understand all the different personality types and how to best support them. There are members of our team that can work remotely and do really well and maybe perform even better. There are the in the middle personality types that like a mix of at home and in the office work environment. And then we have our social butterflies that need others to feel energetic and perform their best.
So what we have done is identified everyone’s personality type and what environment they need to perform and provided them the support and tools they need to work from home as well as made it safe for those that need to be in the office. With UV light filtration in our HVAC units, temperature checks upon arrival, masks and regular sanitizing we created a safe work space for the small group that prefers to come in regularly. I would say most of our employees are remote and some that are remote and come in for training. So yes, the change in the way we work was challenging, but we adapted. One of the strongest characteristics you can have in business is to be able to pivot.
What are your aspirations for the company this year?
In reality we would like to see 25 percent growth over what we did last year. In 2020 we exploded, we went from 18 employees to 43 and if we can have 25 percent more growth then that would be amazing. In fact, by the end of February we should have brought on 12 more people, so the growth is already starting, but what is the most important to us is ensuring we follow our team first mantra.
We definitely have revenue and production goals, but in every decision we make, if it doesn’t help our current team first, we don’t do it. We want to make sure our team feels appreciated and that we scale and grow the right way.
What other projects are you working on?
One of the draws for me to this company was its positive impact on the community. Part of our community effort focuses on veterans and this year we are dedicated to helping veterans in many ways, such as connecting rescue dogs with veterans through Shelter to Soldier, creating a veteran outreach coordinator position to help offer support services to veterans, and hiring more veterans.
Where do you see the company going in the next five years?
It would be nice if the refinance boom went on forever, but that’s not realistic. So, we have made preparation for it to end.
Also, with home values staying high and cash flooding in with stimulus money, it will be interesting to see what home values do. Usually market corrections come and stabilize, but the stimulus has been delaying the corrections, so I foresee some corrections in the next five years and we plan to mitigate and have prepared for the risk.
Luckily our two niches — Non-QM Loans and VA Loans— are safe bets for the next five years. For example, self-employment will continue so the need for Bank Statement Loans will definitely grow as well.