Guardian Mortgage is starting the new year with a new leader in Russ Anderson, who is taking the helm of the company as former CEO Marcia Phillips retires and takes a spot on the Board of Directors as Vice Chairman. We know that Anderson has several success stories in the industry, but we wanted to go beyond the surface to find out what he has planned during his tenure as Guardian’s chief executive. And, of course, get a wine recommendation or two from this oenophile!
It was an absolute joy to interview Anderson and welcome him to his new post at Guardian Mortgage. Jump to find out more about this smart, thoughtful leader!
CandysDirt.com: Welcome! We’ve interviewed a lot of the Guardian team over the years… but never the CEO! Great to meet you. How are you liking your new home at Guardian?
Russ Anderson: I am enjoying it very much. Great customers, great colleagues, and a smart and supportive ownership group.
CD: How does Guardian stand out from other organizations you’ve worked for? What makes it different in your eyes?
RA: Until Guardian, I worked for some of the largest entities in the banking and mortgage industry. I am loving the opportunity to influence change and create a direction for the future of Guardian.
CD: What do you see for its future? Any big changes under your leadership?
RA: Guardian has had a great legacy over the past 50 years of providing great customer service. There are many examples of families coming back to Guardian for their home financing needs time after time. We also have examples of the children of our customers coming to us for their home financing needs when they get to that stage in their lives. The last thing I want to do is change that culture. My goal is chart a course for the company that ensures it thrives for another 50 years. My goal is to leverage that legacy with a growth strategy that will expand our ability to help more families throughout Texas and the southwest for starters, and nationally over time.
CD: 2015 was a big year for you. In addition to taking on a new job at Guardian, you also moved across the country from sunny Los Angeles. How has that transition been? What are the biggest adjustments you’ve had to make?
RA: My family has been blessed to live in a number of great cities throughout the United States: Charlotte; Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis; Los Angeles; and now Dallas. We lived in Los Angeles for the past 13 years. As you stated, we loved the weather and had some fabulous friends, but the traffic was oppressive. I laugh and tell colleagues at the office how great the traffic is in Dallas. I still have a daughter that lives in Los Angeles and another that is in school but still considers Los Angeles home. As a result of my youngest daughter’s recent graduation from high school and my other daughter staying in Los Angeles, I think the biggest adjustment has been becoming true empty nesters. My wife of 31 years and I have promised to eat at a different locally owned restaurant each time we go out.
CD: How are you liking DFW? Any favorite places to eat, shop or go out for fun?
RA: The early votes on Dallas are very positive. We have found all the travel, shopping, and eating opportunities we could have hoped for. Since we have not gone to any restaurants twice, I would say we have focused on the restaurants around Preston Hollow and the Park Cities, and have found some terrific choices.
CD: Speaking of fun, we hear you’re a big wine connoisseur. How’d you get into that?
RA: My wife cautions me about talking about my wine collection. I am not a collector for investment purposes. I buy wine to enjoy and share with friends and family. I got into wine and collecting while living in D.C. My weekly golf group decided to forgo golf one Saturday per quarter to learn and buy wine, and I was hooked. I am in the process of building a wine cellar in my new Dallas house.
CD: Have you been out to any of the Texas wineries? Fredericksburg is full of them!
RA: Sadly, my weekends have been tied up unpacking boxes and traveling to fulfill family commitments. I look forward to visiting the Texas wineries.
CD: Finally, as I’m sure readers will want to know, what is the best wine you’ve ever had? Any favorite brands or years you’d recommend?
RA: My experience has been that my favorite wine generally involved a great dinner event where the food, the company and the wine all came together to create a great experience. I have had some high profile names that left me underwhelmed but lesser wines in the right setting are spectacular. I am sure given my past address no one is surprised to find out that my largest concentration of wines are California Cabernets and Pinot Noirs. It really comes down to drinking what you enjoy and matching it with the food you like to eat.