Integrity is a word not taken lightly in the Bazzell family. Rob and Diane Bazzell have spent the last 25 years building up Integrity Mortgage of Missouri into a business that is known for its exceptional and honest service.
“It’s a highly competitive business, but I think we’ve stayed out of the fray of promising things we can’t do,” said Rob. “We chose the name Integrity due to its use throughout the bible and it’s how we were raised. We have a responsibility that we abide by our name.”
Integrity is a way of life for the couple who was born and raised in St. Charles. Rob and Diane met at St. Charles High School in 1974 when Rob played basketball and Diane was a cheerleader.
“Actually the first time I met him I was watching a baseball game at Blanchette Park and some irritating little guy was kicking dirt on me on the bleachers, right behind me—it was him (Rob),” said Diane. “That’s how young we were. He was being goofy.”
Rob got her attention that day and the couple has been married nearly 40 years. Diane credits humor as one of the secrets to their long-lasting marriage.
“And a commitment to one another,” said Diane. “We don’t look at marriage as having options. We committed to one another and we have a family and a business and responsibility to one another.”
“We make fun of each other all the time. We don’t take each other too seriously,” said Rob.
The Bazzell’s have been married since August 1978 and have four children: Ryan, 38; Jamie, 37; Robbie, 32; and Alex, 27; and five grandchildren Nick, 18; Will, 6; Max, 3; Skyler, 2; and Ella, newborn.
“I think in life and in business, if you keep God first, your spouse second, family and friends third and fourth, you’ll usually make the right decisions. And if you faltered, you’ve probably changed up that order,” said Rob.
The couple hasn’t always worked together. Diane has a background as a dental assistant and office administrator. Rob started his career working at Citicorp, first as a collector and quickly moving his way up to area sales manager over multiple states. Citicorp rolled out auto papers, and Rob started talking to all of the dealers in town. Lou Fusz ended up hiring him away from Citicorp in 1987, to become a general sales manager for Toyota. He was on his way to running his own dealership when his brother Roger approached him to open a mortgage company together—a dream the brothers had from years ago.
“It was a huge risk because I had a really good job, with a really good income, with a possibility of making more and growing in that company,” said Rob. “But it was something that we always wanted to do—to do something on our own.”
So Diane and Rob both quit their jobs, loaded up the four young kids and moved to Texas in 1993. Being born and raised in St. Charles, the couple was entrenched in the area and had a lot of support back home.
“Right when we moved down (to Texas) we had 20 loans from people in St. Charles in the first month. We really hit the ground running,” said Rob.
After 10 months, the company started getting business from Dallas, but Rob was still getting inundated with business from St. Charles. The couple questioned staying in Texas if all of their clientele was back in their home town.
“After 10 months we loaded the kids back up and moved back to St. Charles,” said Rob.
The couple opened Integrity Mortgage of Missouri after moving back in 1994. Originally the company started as a mortgage broker delivering mostly refinance business.
“We’ve both done everything—every day to day operation, sales, processing, preliminary underwriting, you name it,” said Diane.
The business has really grown into the purchase business.
“In the last seven years we’ve become a banker, which means we handle everything from start to finish,” said Rob. “We fund the loans; we don’t have to rely on someone in Phoenix to do the loans and get the loan papers from the title company. We can control it, to make sure the process goes really smooth.”
The company now has five employees, including son Ryan, and is looking to grow.
“We’re really picky about who we choose because it’s our name and we’ve worked really hard over the last 25 years for our reputation,” said Diane.
The couple also made a conscious effort to maintain the business at a level which would allow them to be very involved with their kids’ activities and events.
“We knew if we kept (the business) just between us, made a good living and took care of people then we would be more available to (stay involved with the kids events),” said Rob. “We’ve been blessed, continuously blessed.”
“Now that they’ve grown and they’re starting to have children of their own, it’s a good time for us to expand a little bit more,” said Rob.
Along with the dedication to their clients, giving back to the community is also important to the couple. In addition to being active members of their church, Immanuel Lutheran, Diane is a member of Little Black Book, a group of women supporting women in business. Once a month the group has a charitable commitment in the community.
“I really have enjoyed that group. Once a month there’s something that everyone can learn, whether it’s self-defense or helping one another in business or daily struggles we might have as women in business,” said Diane.
Diane is also a member of 100 Women Who Care, a nationwide organization that meets quarterly to donate funds to a local charity. All of the members kick in $100 each at each meeting, and three non-profits are given the chance to speak about their organization. The members vote for the most deserving non-profit who receives a check.
About 10 months ago, Integrity Mortgage of Missouri implemented the HERO loan program, which is offered to teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers, to name a few. Participants in the HERO loan program can choose a non-profit from Backstoppers, Community Living Inc. or St. Jude’s and Integrity Mortgage will donate $100 to the organization.
“It’s a way we can give back to the community,” said Diane. “For the nurses, doctors and military, they get a complimentary appraisal (too).”
For fun, the couple loves to golf, travel and attend sporting events and activities for the grandchildren. Some of their favorite trips included a two-week jaunt in Europe visiting Rome, Germany, London and Italy. But even when vacationing for fun, the couple is working for their clients.
“Our time is sporadic, because when we go on vacation we’re still working—we take a computer on vacation,” said Diane. “But we love it,” she said.
“We’re not the biggest, but we try to be tied for first with the best,” said Rob. “We take the utmost responsibility to take care of our name.”