Stuart Crawford – My Story
March 21, 2022
I’ve always felt the most important things in life are friends, family, and laughter. Anything I’m truly passionate about will involve one of these three -if not all – to some degree.
I was born in Texas and moved to New Mexico when I was nine years old. I have a strong affinity for the southwest, and ending up in Arizona could not have been more perfect as it has elements of both states. After graduating high school, I attended Arizona State University. Though it had a reputation as one of the nation’s biggest party schools, it also had a very reputable business school, so the decision was easy.
After receiving my finance degree, I stumbled upon a job in the mortgage industry that was to serve as the pass-through until I found my “real” job. This was during a massive refinance boom, and the real estate market was heating up fast. This led to a series of employers and thoughts of leaving the industry until I found an opportunity at a private, family-held company called Waterfield Financial. The mentorship and guidance there provided me with the foundation needed to build a bonafide mortgage career. After a few years, the company sold to a much larger publicly-traded firm and went from 300 loan officers to 3,000. At the time of the acquisition, our branch was number one in the entire organization. Shortly after, the company went out of business and was one of the first large mortgage firms to collapse on the heels of the housing industry crisis. I’ve never forgotten what it felt like to witness so many people lose their jobs.
My mentor, Keith Teegardin, allowed me to join him and his best friend, Jay Barbour, in launching their own enterprise, VIP Mortgage. Without a clear path ahead of me, I trusted their vision and quickly jumped on board. The fifteen years that followed were both exhausting and exhilarating as we grew from a startup company with a handful of employees to an organization of more than 500 employees and multiple branches in several states.
During this time, I became an owner in the company and met my business partner, Ryan Madrid. As we started building our business together, Ryan and I became very close, almost like brothers. Our values and vision aligned with everything we did, and because of this, the Crawford Team emerged as one of the top-producing origination groups in the country.
Since I was young, I’ve dreamt about starting my own company. I wanted to build a business from the ground up with people I love and respect, creating opportunities for others, and leaving a legacy for my children, Colton (8), Ava (6), and Hank (3). My wife, Rachel, has been my rock and best friend since we were in high school. She has always encouraged me to chase after my dreams…with no regrets.
During the first COVID summer, I decided to take the family on an RV trip where we met up with Jeremy West, my best friend since high school, and his family. We had talked for years about how great it would be to go into business together ‘someday’. This particular encounter led to a much more real conversation about life and the limited time we have to take chances and change the trajectory of our lives. At this moment, I knew it was a now-or-never situation, and it was time to make this a reality.
The burning fear of waking up one day and regretting not trying was not something I wanted to experience. In conversations with Ryan over the years about rebranding and what our next chapter would be, the perfect storm approached, and it was time to lock horns and run straight into it.
Life is about embracing change and continuing to find passion and purpose. If we can do this with friends and loved ones, it is the ultimate experience. And I know there will be some great laughs along the way.