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American Equity Mortgage

Company: American Equity Mortgage, St. Louis, Missouri
Company Description: With a loan volume over $2.4 billion in 2004, St. Louis-based American Equity Mortgage is one of the leading mortgage bankers in the country. Operating 43 branches and closing loans in 23 states, the 600-employee company’s reach spans from Washington and California to Florida and Maryland. American Equity has received numerous awards for customer service, entrepreneurship and community service.
Nomination Category: Company, Office & Product Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best Overall Company

Nomination Title: American Equity Mortgage

   1. Tell the story about what this nominated company achieved in 2004 (up to 500 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

Founded in 1992, St. Louis-based American Equity Mortgage is one of the leading
mortgage bankers in the country. 2004 was a banner year for American Equity,
bringing expansion across the country and a loan volume surpassing $2.4 billion.
While the mortgage banking industry was down by approximately 40 percent in
2004, American Equity was up 13 percent.

At the beginning of 2004, American Equity operated 26 branches and closed loans
in 16 states. By the end of 2004, American Equity operated 43 branches and
closed loans in 23 states. The company’s growth was achieved through expansion
and acquisition. American Equity added second branches in Milwaukee, Denver,
Seattle and Minneapolis and opened new branches in Nashville and Memphis,
Portland, Baltimore, West Palm Beach and Las Vegas. In June, the company
acquired Columbus-based Integrity Mortgage Corp., which added seven branches in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Louisville and Indianapolis.

The formula behind American Equity success is the “three Is” – integrity,
intensity and impeccable customer service. The company’s corporate culture is
ingrained in employees from day one, starting with a weeklong training session
learning the company’s philosophy. Subsequently, weekly training sessions with
managers and annual continuing education courses help loan officers stay current
on industry developments. All employees – from receptionist to IT staff – take a
Mortgage 101 course to ensure that everyone understands the business. American
Equity’s highly successful business model uses 12-person branches in which
employee performance is closely monitored. American Equity almost always
promotes from within and has a refined manager-in-training program. The company
also has an extensive rewards program for productive employees.

Another key reason for American Equity’s success is its focus on customer
service. Consumers in Atlanta, the company’s largest market behind its
headquarters, selected American Equity as their preferred debt consolidation
company as part of the Consumers’ Choice Award program for the third consecutive year in 2004. “Impeccable customer service” includes being personally greeted by a loan officer upon arrival and closing with the title company at American
Equity’s offices.

American Equity’s commitment to the public extends beyond its customers. Deanna
Daughhetee Vinson, president and CEO, believes strongly in giving back. In 2003
and 2004, she was co-chair of Old Newsboys Day, an organization that raises
money for 250 St. Louis children’s charities. In 2004, she and volunteers raised
more than $750,000. She also commits her company’s resources. The company
recently added a community relations manager to oversee all community service
activities. American Equity has dedicated multiple phone book covers to
promoting organizations like the James S. McDonnell USO, Old Newsboys Day,
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Metro St. Louis, Girls Inc., Loyola Academy
and Women’s Support and Community Services. American Equity also partners with sports organizations to support programs like Children’s Miracle Network and the St. Louis Blues Fourteen Fund. Employees participate in programs like Race for
the Cure, Walk for Diabetes and Walk Far for NAAR.

American Equity believes in accountability to its employees, customers and the
community, making it an excellent candidate for Best Overall Company.

   2. List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that support the claims made in the section above. IMPORTANT: List each link on a separate line, begin each link with http://, and enclose each link in square brackets; for example, []:

   3. Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader of this nominated company:

President and CEO Deanna Daughhetee Vinson opened American Equity Mortgage in 1992. Deanna oversees American Equity’s day-to-day operations and spearheads all expansion plans. She was named CEO in 2002 after serving as president for 10 years. In 2003 and 2004, she served as co-chair of Old Newsboys Day. Deanna serves on boards/committees for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Metro St. Louis, St. Louis Social Venture Partners, the Regional Business Council, UMB Bank, Maryville University and Eastern Illinois University. A CPA, Deanna holds an M.B.A. from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and a B.S. in business from Eastern Illinois University.