George Matthews, a 28-year veteran of the mortgage industry, honed his competitive edge as a young man by playing as a shutdown safety on the high school football field.
“No one got past me on the field,” Matthews said with a laugh. “It literally did not happen.”
Matthews’ old teams enjoyed three undefeated seasons, helmed by a coach he described as “a perfectionist” who instilled an attitude of persistence from start to finish.
“He was phenomenal,” Matthews said. “One of the things I think he instilled in us is, he would always tell us, ‘Hey, guys, if you’ve finished second or last, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. The only thing that counts is being first.
“That’s kind of how I grew up living and practicing. The only games we lost were two state championships. But that’s where I got a winning mindset of working hard to be the best.”
It’s a mentality that Matthews has carried with him to the professional sphere as business-development officer of Fairfax County Federal Credit Union in the Washington, D.C., metro area. The approach has served him well — last year, Matthews closed 846 loans, good for fifth overall on Scotsman Guide’s Most Closed Loans list. Overall, his 2018 body of work yielded a dollar volume of $102,675,499, including nearly $43.8 million in home equity lines of credit, placing him second on the Top HELOC Volume list.
Not that he hasn’t seen his share of challenges. His team identifies the ongoing evolution of regulations and lack of housing supply as some of the biggest industry hurdles of late, with competition ever fierce. Again, however, Matthews looks to his football years for inspiration when things aren’t easy.
“It was kind of a wake-up call when I went to college,” Matthews said. “I went to JMU (James Madison University). I played for a year and they were a losing team. We had some adversity there because we were losing and I wasn’t used to that.
“But I think that just only makes you more aware of what you have to do to win,” he added. “I think it comes with, obviously, hard work, but guys have to be prepared. A lot of preparation. It takes more than just working nine-to-five.”
His colleagues say preparation helps set Matthews apart from the field. Bill Cook, Fairfax’s vice president for processing and administration, lauded Matthews for his all-encompassing knowledge of the company’s niche and product catalog, as well as his exhaustive understanding of the industry as a whole.
“And everybody knows George,” Cook noted. “Every time we go out to events, meetings and presentations, you just see him out there and he knows everyone. He’s got great contacts. He’s just the kind of guy who’s out there, meeting people and being a big part of the community.”
Matthews credits the Fairfax team for getting the best out of one another and keeping origination volumes stout.
“I think the leadership is extremely strong,” he said. “The teamwork is excellent. In a lot of companies, you have sales operations and processing. They don’t talk to one another on a consistent basis. But what I found here is that everyone is a cohesive unit. You don’t find that in a lot of companies, and I’ve seen a lot of cultures. We’re a close-knit team.”