Family Time Sparks UNF Partnership
Partnerships begin in different ways. For the University of North Florida and Bank of England Mortgage, the connection began with sports. Area Manager Quinton Harris, after hiring several UNF grads for his new Jacksonville office, brought his wife and young children to UNF to watch basketball.
The family time quickly turned into something special when they had the chance to meet the players and coaches. “Everyone was so kind to our family,” Harris said. “At the time, my children were maybe five and six, and to them these guys were NBA players, giants. It was great to see them interact with the kids.” That first experience at UNF prompted Harris to reflect on the University, the community and giving back.
That was seven years ago. Since then, the Bank of England Mortgage has partnered with UNF Athletics, providing funding for LED scoreboards in the UNF Arena and the softball and baseball fields. That initial connection now has developed into a relationship with the Coggin College of Business and a new name for its career center: The Bank of England Mortgage Career Management Center.
For Harris, working with the Center is a perfect fit. In 2011, he hired all entry-level positions from area universities. His plan was to train the employees and have them build a culture together to end the "employee revolving door" of the mortgage industry. His plan worked. Many hired are still with the company today. "The hiring process really turned into a phenomenal system, and we developed roots into the University that I couldn't have imagined," Harris said. At last count, about 70% of 52 team members are UNF grads.
With the company’s gift, UNF will be able to totally renovate the Center. Director Derek Guffin said the goal is to create a professional-looking space. “When students walk in, we want them to realize that they’ve entered a place worthy of a nationally ranked business school, a place that offers expanded services so they can launch their careers.” The Center also will continue to host multiple employer events throughout the year to help in the hiring process.
“Making a connection with UNF has been transformative,” Harris said. The culture created by his team has led to the company being named by the Jacksonville Business Journal as “A Best Place to Work,” for the past six years. Since 2013, Harris’ office has ranked No. 1 of 172 lending locations nationwide.
The original Bank of England Mortgage opened in 1898 in England, Arkansas, thus the namesake. Depository branches remain in Arkansas with mortgage locations nationwide. Will Harris’ office stay in the No. 1 spot? With the winning attitude of his team, and his hiring connection with UNF, he has no doubt the Jacksonville office will stay at the top for 2020. “We are definitely hard to catch,” Harris said.