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We write about our own experience scaling a professional services firm. Learn from our successes and failures. 

How to Build Company Culture and Surviving the 08/09 Financial Crisis with Jeff Russell of The Pango Group

Posted by Ben Isley on Jun 16, 2020 8:00:00 AM

In this episode, we're joined by Jeff Russell, President of The Pango Group, a title and escrow company. Jeff has lots of experience in building culture, managing people, and coaching others in business as he has helped grow The Pango Group to 250+ people since 2000.

Why Start The Pango Group?

Jeff and his business partner are very close friends. They met at a young age and always kept in touch with regular meetings about their businesses. They knew they got along and had similar visions. At the time, Jeff was involved with a small tech company and his partner was operating an escrow business with 25 people. In 2000, Jeff moved over to the escrow business and began looking to grow.

Jeff and Scott, his partner, were big readers and learners. Their reading led them to the montra "working on your business instead of in your business". From there, they just sunk into working on the development of the business. Scott is the CEO and makes high-level decisions. Jeff comes in an helps fine tune ideas and determine how the ideas can actually be applied.


"If you don't have a culture or don't think you have a culture, you're wrong. The culture builds itself... We discovered what our mission vision was and then we let the company decide what would help us with our values."

No matter when The Pango Group does, they're looking to enhance the lives of the people and communities that they serve as their mission.

"It's creating an experience for whoever walks in the door."

Many companies develop mission statements and values but don't pay it thought once it's up on a plaque on a wall. It's difficult to manage to that mission and values, but it must be done actively. This ultimately brings a much more positive atmosphere to the company.

Setting Expectations

First, you must set the expectations clearly. After the expectations are set, you must continuously follow up on the results and give all variety of feedback. The follow ups are very important to seeing things through to completion. With good employees, they need initial direction, and then you need to get back in their way every so often to check in and follow up. This is with direct feedback. Personal development plans are also important. You need to give employees a clear road map for their growth in a way the lines up with the interests of the employee and the company.

There are tough conversations if expectations aren't being met. In these situations, Jeff likes to acknowledge the good and point out the bad. When pointing out the bad missed expectations, Jeff directly asks if there's anything he should know and if the employee still enjoys the position. If everything is all good there, Jeff will ask if there's anything that the employee needs from him to be successful. This check in conversation is had once a month.

"Everyone deserves to be treated fairly, but not everybody deserves to be treated the same."

If you're asking someone about fairness, it's not about right or wrong, it's relative to the mind of the individual. Everyone should always be treated with dignity and should see that energy is being pointed in their direction for training and mentorship.

Biggest Challenge

In the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007, The Pango Group was beginning to realize the economic crisis as the foreclosure market hit hard and residential business dropped in half. The business just wasn't there and Jeff had to lay people off. This is a pretty horrible time. Reflecting, Jeff thinks they should have made decisions quicker.

Learn more about Jeff and his work:

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