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Special Employee Spotlight: Meet Andrew Fraone

Company News
Posted on 
June 3, 2024
“I try to have an open door where not only can you walk in and tell me anything, but you can tell me however you'd like to tell me, with a very limited filter, and understand that we will work through it the best we can.”

This month, we're please to spotlight...

Andrew Fraone, Managing Director, Commercial Mortgage

Andrew’s made a few stops on his path to Apex Commercial Capital. “I was a Penn State graduate, in the leadership development program through Penn State Smeal College of Business. I ended up joining PNC through their leadership development program and was there for roughly seven years, strictly in a business banking capacity. And then, from there, I ended up meeting with Matt Hein, who is here at Firstrust [now]. He scooped me up and brought me over to Santander in a management capacity. I managed the Greater Philadelphia market for small business relationship managers, which was quite a large territory, both branch and direct report wise. I ended up leaving there – I saw the writing on the wall coming before they disbanded their division – and went into a credit function over at Citizens Bank for a few years. Then, I ended up transitioning again, via Matt, to meet with Andrew [Tauber]… and I came over at the onset as Vice President of Subsidiary Management, assisting in several different places. And then Andrew felt the best place for me would be to spend my time with Apex and the Commercial Mortgage division.”

Can you describe your experience working with and for Apex Commercial Capital?

“Apex is my first go-round working for a smaller institution. All other employment has been at larger organizations. It is very different than the normal ins and outs and black-and-white spaces I've worked in before. This is a small family and everyone shares their input which is critical to the success of the company since each employee truly owns their day to day tasks. It is very different from the normal corporate ladder and the distance it creates. So, it's very interesting from that standpoint.”

What are your responsibilities as managing director of commercial mortgage?

“As managing director of commercial mortgage, I’m responsible for any part of the business line within commercial mortgage. So that involves the initiation of conversations between sales and brokers or direct borrowers all the way through to the final part of booking and funding. In between, there is the borrower’s journey that includes the collection of documentation, the underwriting processes, and post approval processing(getting it to the closing table), all while ensuring that we have the right process, efficiencies and people in place to execute consistently.”

How would you describe your leadership style?

“I would say that, from a leadership perspective, I'm definitely more of a macro manager. Each person can certainly develop a process within their means to get to the end result – and that can be sales, that can be underwriting, that can be processing. There's a little bit more liberty in the sales standpoint. But overall, we're looking to develop the right processes and procedures from a high-level standpoint, so that customer satisfaction is achieved through each interaction, albeit slightly differently, but having the right bones across the board.”

What are your current goals for the business line?

“To make sure that we've got the right people in place and the right process in place, and then from there to do everything we can to make sure that the Apex brand is known, to make sure that we're able to spread our reach and get in front of more brokers and build a deeper local connection. And most importantly, achieving budget and growing our portfolio – safely, of course, with appropriate risk.”

Who do you look to for inspiration or advice and mentorship in your role?

“That's an interesting question. Surface level, obviously, Andrew is a great person to have. His experience far outweighs mine in a lot of different aspects. Being able to have a conversation with him is great. Internally, Andrew’s a great leader and a great person to leverage. Externally, though, thinking a little outside the box, I would say that the greatest building block that you can have for work doesn't necessarily need to be work correlated. It's just a foundation and a process. So, for me, that starts with the right physical and mental routines. I looked at someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who built that framework and guidelines, not only from a diet and from a physical perspective but also from a mental perspective. He's got a lot of interesting insight, given the path that he has taken – from nothing to a bodybuilder who utilized that to pivot to a movie career and then leveraged his spotlight into a tenure in government, and I think there are a lot of things that you can take from him at a high level that allow you to build the right foundation for yourself. And again, for me, that kind of starts with just being mentally fit and physically fit and feeling good, because it certainly can control the tone of the day and the impact that you have on others throughout the course of your day. If you're in the right mindset, you can help guide others to the same spot and tackle anything.”

How would you say you continue learning and growing as a leader?

“I think always try to balance internal and external influences because I think viewpoints are very important. And when I say viewpoints, I mean I'm always listening – probably to a fault – and taking everyone's viewpoints into account. I try to have an open door where not only can you walk in and tell me anything, but you can tell me however you'd like to tell me with a very limited filter and understand that we will work through it the best that we can. So, from an internal standpoint, I listen to everyone and everything. Reading a few books doesn’t hurt either!”

“Outside of work, I actually think that my family really helps me grow. Being a dad and balancing the three kids and my wife's work schedule and her health issues and everything else… there's a lot that comes into play of being even-keeled in that at home scenario, You know, those lines blend very easily between a leadership capacity at work and a leadership capacity at home.”

What advice do you have for people in leadership positions?

“Within reason, you need to learn to trust your gut. At a certain point, your experience guides you to the places that you're at. And if you are in the right role and you are doing the right things, the right outcomes will typically follow. But you need to trust your gut and be confident.”

What would you say are the most important traits that you look for when hiring a new employee?

“As a general piece, the first thing is that you've got that 30-second impression. So when you're interviewing someone, there's a 30-second elevator pitch… and whether you're in sales, trying to sell, or whether you are in an interview, trying to sell yourself, whether you realize it or not, you've got 30 seconds to make that impression. And that impression that someone tries to make on you is the most important thing. So, what I'm looking for is presentation, listening to the energy level, and listening to the sincerity. And then, depending upon the role, there are certainly things that I'm looking for, more specifically in each capacity. Sales is different from credit. Processing is different from sales. Each piece is a little different, but that initial interaction is the most important part to me, because otherwise, it's an uphill battle from there.”

What would you say is the most important risk that you've taken throughout your career and why?

“That's an interesting one. So… let's go with leaving sales to step into management. And some people might look at it and say, ‘Why is that a risk?’ But for me, I was in a great spot. I had built a great network of people. I was a top producer where I was. I was well respected. Things were going very, very well for me. And while the position I took on was a promotion, it was definitely at a less stable organization to step into a role that I hadn't done yet. Not that there was a lack of confidence in being able to master that role, but with every change you make in life, work, or elsewhere, there's always risk, and risk versus reward.”

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

“Of course, it's my kids. I've got three boys, so I live to be a Boy-Dad. I can remember the moment when I found out that my wife was pregnant with our first, and we found out before everybody else to do the gender reveal. And I ran around like crazy once I found that it was a boy – screaming up and down the street. And it was amazing. I probably, almost to a fault, am with my kids as much as I can be. But that's it. It's sports, it's baseball, it's basketball, it's soccer, it's learning to ride bikes, kickball in the yard, and now that summer is here, pool-pool-pool. It is kids first and foremost. And when I can find that hour, hour and a half, in the morning to get up to go to the gym for me, independently, that's it. Go to the gym. Clear my head. Get myself in the right physical space, and at the same time, get myself into the right mental space to start every day.”

What are you most proud of?

“My family. Without a doubt. I’m married to an amazing woman who works harder than anybody. She's had a ton of physical, mental and emotional challenges but has been able to push through them all. I’m super proud of her. I'm super proud of how my kids have developed and what we've been able to do as a team. It's not easy. I'm just proud that we've been able to push through the hard days and find time to enjoy the special moments we’ve been blessed to have thus far. We’ve created a bond that no one can break and will only get better and stronger!


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