2013 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Barb Cutillo

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cutillo-1-15col.jpg Barb Cutillo (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

"We wanted to build a sustainable business that could withstand the ups and downs,” said Barb Cutillo.

Ups and downs is a mild way to describe the mortgage business over the past decade. But the company Cutillo co-founded, Stonegate Mortgage, has done more than just weather the storm. It has become one of the fastest-growing privately owned companies in the United States for three years straight (according to Inc. magazine) and topped IBJ’s list of fast-growing private firms in Indiana.

When Cutillo and her husband Jim (its CEO) launched the company in 2005, the focus was on jumbo construction loans on the north side of Indianapolis.

“During those first few years, it was difficult to grow rapidly because we weren’t doing subprime loans,” recalled Cutillo. “And difficult to recruit people because we weren’t doing those kinds of loans. But we did find a few people who believed in the industry and we built a foundation on those folks.”

That foundation proved stronger than most. Cutillo watched other companies with different philosophies go out of business when the economy turned. She’s not ashamed to say she took an opportunistic approach during that time.

“There were a lot of people who were displaced who had great experience,” she said. “We were able to hire from a great talent pool that was available all of a sudden.”

Stonegate survived—thrived, in fact. With revenue of $84.2 million in the first half of 2013 (nearly triple the same period a year earlier), Stonegate launched an initial public offering in October. It now does business in over 30 states.

Holding on to the talent she has acquired is a high priority for Cutillo.

“We’re kind of a family-based business,” she said, “and we know that everyone has to take care of their family. And not just with a paycheck. We’ve always been as flexible as we can with work schedules and making accommodations for people.”

Among those accommodations: a compassionate PTO policy where employees can donate hours to other employees. She also allows employees to work remotely, when appropriate, which she sees as helping with morale and with balancing work and family life.

Leading Stonegate’s philanthropic activities, Cutillo has tied fundraisers into work life and aligned the company with Horizon House, Habitat for Humanity, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Pets for Vets, and others. The playground by IPS School 105 was built in part by Stonegate staff. And when employees are wearing jeans to work, that’s a sign they’ve donated money to a charity for that privilege.

“It’s just a part of the company culture to help others,” she said, pointing out that the very business she’s involved in, helping families purchase homes, is a stabilizing factor for communities. “These are the people we see in our neighborhoods—in the baseball fields and in the churches.”•


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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.