March 13, 2013

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CEO of the Year

Effective leaders often credit their team members for successes and achiev...Read More

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CEO of the Year

By Heather Stewart

March 13, 2013

“It was a sales position,” he says. “Every day you had to wake up and make things happen. You had to meet new people and help people solve problems. It provided me such a wonderful training background to be able to grow a business.”

Zitting co-founded Primary Residential Mortgage in 2000. That year, the company closed 321 mortgages for a loan volume of $35 million. In 2012, the company’s loan volume was nearly $5 billion; it now has more than 200 branches and 1,500 employees throughout the country.

“The mortgage industry has been through so many changes, so many new regulations … as these new regulations came out, Dave just dove right into each one of those regulations and he led the way for the company, which really put us ahead of everybody else,” says Steve Chapman, CFO for Primary Residential.

For his part, Zitting credits his team for much of the company’s success. “When an idea is owned by a group, by a team of brilliant people who have the freedom to challenge you, and you have the freedom to challenge them, some really miraculous things happen…some answers tend to come as a result of that collaborative effort.”

Zitting is proud the company nearly hit the $5 billion mark last year, but he is not ready to coast on the success. “Whenever I’ve dreamed of a goal and hit it, then the goal only got bigger in my mind,” he says.

DREW PETERSONCEO, Veracity Networks

Drew Peterson has spent his entire career in the telecommunications industry. He first worked for Access Long Distance, eventually becoming head of the sales department for the Western region. That company was acquired by McLeodUSA, where he moved into a new management position and opened up the Utah, Idaho and Montana markets. In 1987, he launched Off Campus Telecommunications, which through a merger and a few name changes evolved into Veracity Networks.

Although telecommunications has been his chosen profession, Peterson says it’s not the industry that is his passion—it’s the ability to serve clients. “The reality is, I’m a service provider, and I’m really, really passionate about providing exceptional service to customers. The vehicle I happen to use is telecommunications to provide that service,” he says.

Peterson has an “extra sensitivity” for both customers and employees, says Randy Christensen vice president of sales and marketing for Veracity Networks. Peterson strives to help his employees grow and succeed, notes Christensen, because he has a vested interest in their success.

“His passion is very contagious and we all catch a piece of that, and you just want to perform well for him because he’s putting it out there every single day 100 percent, and it just makes you want to do the same,” says Christensen.

That passion has propelled Veracity Networks to 500 percent growth in the past six years. Last year, the company expanded its high-speed internet and phone services to more than 100,000 residents and businesses in the downtown Salt Lake City area. It also began offering services to 17,000 businesses in Bountiful, Cottonwood and Kearns.

Peterson negotiated with Provo City for Veracity Networks to become the city’s only provider of its city-owned fiber-optic network. In 2012 the company began offering free fiber-optic portal installs to Provo residents, helping both the company to expand and residents to increase their internet speeds.

Peterson says that, for him, it’s more than just a cliché to say that it’s the people who make a business successful. In fact, he says he took a pay cut so he could invest more into top-notch people.

“It’s exciting that I get to bring people in that I get to learn from [and] that they get to learn from me. And it really is a partnership, and we’ve been able to create a phenomenal executive team that really builds upon each other, helps each other grow. We all have the same philosophies, and [it’s] that team effort that allows you to be successful,” he says.

For new entrepreneurs, Peterson says his best advice is to not spend forever trying to perfect the product or service. “It doesn’t really matter if you have the best product in the world, as long as you have a good product and the right people and you execute on the business plan, you’re going to find success,” he says.

JEFF JOHNSONCEO, Progrexion Holdings

Jeff Johnson spent three decades amassing an abundance of experience and knowledge while working for “very large, very professionally managed companies” in consumer products and banking.  He served as president and CEO of Ally Bank, The Prudential Bank & Trust Company, Equifax Secure and Franklin Credit Management Corp.

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