NFM Lending is a full-service multistate mortgage lender operating 34 offices across the country that employs 324 people, including more than 150 in the Baltimore region.
Despite its large scale, the company doesn't feel big to employees who touted its family-like atmosphere in explaining why NFM has earned top workplaces honors for four years running.
NFM's leaders seem set on mass-producing the same raw enthusiasm that helped them will get their tight-knit family operation off the ground nearly two decades ago.
"The executive team wants to keep that family feel," explained Bernadette Pearson, director of human resources for the Linthicum-based company. "We don't want to be the biggest out there. We want to be the best out there in the industry, but we want to still maintain that small mentality."
Before the top workplace plaudits came along, before the company opened its expansive corporate headquarters, and before Refi and Tabby — the office cats — moved in, NFM was a tiny brokerage office in Baltimore.
CEO David Silverman founded NFM Lending in 1998 with his wife, Sandy, and four loan officers. Seventeen years, a couple of recessions and a nationwide housing bust later, NFM has not only survived — it has thrived.
Despite its robust growth, employees say that NFM still navigates the same course that Silverman first charted 17 years ago — a culture defined by the camaraderie and compassion in their relationships with clients, colleagues and, especially, within the community.
For years, the company has hosted a number of annual charitable events, such as food drives and "Support Our Troops" drives, and has worked with charities such as Ronald McDonald House, the SPCA of Maryland and Habitat for Humanity. In August, NFM employees held their first-ever back-to-school drive and sent 50 backpacks full of supplies to Anne Arundel County public schools.
"We're corporate America, but we are also very creative and very family-oriented," Pearson said. "People really love the culture here. It's what makes people stay here. We make things fun."
Within the company's headquarters in Linthicum, the ethos is instilled from the top down. NFM President Jan Ozga is proud to be on a first-name basis with every employee, and the interactions extend beyond mere workplace pleasantries. The company's management team maintains an enthusiastic open-door policy, and all employees are encouraged to share their ideas and concerns, regardless of where they may fall within the corporate hierarchy.
"If anybody has any issues they can come in and see any of the executives, or the president or the CEO," said Matthew Glyder, NFM's chief financial officer. "It's pretty much an open-door policy."
Employees also describe a passionate and overwhelmingly positive atmosphere within the office, and not just because of the free snacks and beverages.
"There is so much room for growth," said one employee. "NFM really sees that you work to your full potential and they reward you accordingly. I also have a really, really awesome manager [who] really pushes us to be our best and he's always there if we need him."
Employees also added that the job itself is personally rewarding, and many relished their ability to help families nationwide achieve their dream of owning a home.
The company actively works to limit the stresses of the job and promote healthy living through events such as a September health fair, at which employees were treated to free massages and received flu shots at the corporate office. The staff also receives a generous benefits package, including a medical plan that carries no monthly premium for NFM employees.