| Award Recipient
Deanna Daughhetee-Vinson and Ray Vinson
American Equity Mortgage
If you listen
to the radio, chances are you've heard one of Ray Vinson's memorable
commercials. Vinson's voice and the company's phone number, 878-9999,
are easily among the most recognized in St. Louis.
Daughhetee-Vinson (left) and Ray Vinson
The ads are
apparently working and so is the company's successful formula
for providing mortgage loans to homeowners. American Equity Mortgage
now has 16 branches and makes mortgage loans in 10 states. Annual
loan volume exceeds $750 million and banks throughout the country
are knocking on the company's doors to lend them money.
extensive background in working for others in various phases of
consumer finance, Vinson started American Equity Mortgage (AEM)
in 1992 with his wife Deanna Daughhetee-Vinson. They founded the
company on the belief that they could provide superior customer
service and create an outstanding work environment for employees.
entrepreneurs need, "deep down dedication and devotion to
succeed and a willingness to go through the hard times."
He adds, "One of the best things about being an entrepreneur
is the recognition you get from others who know youÕve
paid your dues and have worked really hard."
As a husband-wife
team, the duo complement one another. Vinson is primarily responsible
for all marketing efforts and creating name recognition, while
Daughhetee-Vinson develops the company's infrastructure. As a
CPA, Daughhetee-Vinson's accounting background provides the expertise
to manage the company's finances for long-term growth. She also
has a degree and experience in management information systems
and is currently in charge of a $1.5 million investment in new
technology that will allow the company to process 40 percent more
of AEM's superior customer service practices was to insist that
title companies come to their offices for loan closings. This
was difficult at first since title companies did not typically
provide this service. AEM insisted and today this arrangement
is working well. Customers tell the Vinsons they appreciate not
having to go to two separate places to close their loans.
After eight years, Vinson still does the radio and TV commercials
for all markets, including writing and overseeing production.
He recalls getting a phone call from a voice analyst who told
him his voice needed a lot of help and he could work with him
to remove his "West Virginia twang." To that Vinson
replied, "I'm never one to argue with success. When you hear
my voice, you know it's American Equity Mortgage talking."