Chandler businessmen use corporate incentive trip to serve others in Guatemala - East Valley Tribune: Business

Chandler businessmen use corporate incentive trip to serve others in Guatemala

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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2012 8:59 am | Updated: 11:45 am, Mon Jul 23, 2012.

Rather than spending their corporate incentive trip on the beach, three Academy Mortgage Corporation businessmen from Chandler spent it serving others in Guatemala.

“A lot of people use these trips to run off a lot of steam, and as a manager, I was worried that for some people, it wouldn’t motivate them to achieve,” said Chad Melin, who works at the company’s Chandler office as a branch manager.

But that wasn’t the case at all, he said.

“The program rewards those who do well in the business with an opportunity to do good for a community in need,” the company stated in a press release.

Melin, as well as Ryan Nelson and Jason Spears, spent their time, not sitting on the beach or receiving massages, but lifting rocks and digging trenches.

The mortgage company plans to help the village of Secanquin, Guatemala, populated by about 200 indigenous people of Mayan decent, to become a self-sustaining community. As the first of a three-part project, the employees of the company worked side by side with villagers to build the first running water system in the village.

“It was way better than any workshop, working alongside of them,” Melin said. “It was an adventure, sleeping in tents and hauling rocks from a stream in a bag on our backs.”

More than a trip, the group made memories that extend far beyond a relaxing week in Mexico or Hawaii, two of the previous incentive trips awarded by the company, Melin said.

The team spent five days in the village.

“Spanish is their second language and we had interpreters there some of the time,” Melin said. “Day One felt a little weird. We gestured and called each other by the color of their shirt.”

But the hard work and villagers and Academy employees playing soccer and baseball together broke down the language barrier, he said.

“By Day Four, we were all buddies,” Melin said.

For those who received the rewards trip, they were able to bring a guest and Melin brought his 12-year-old daughter, Ellia.

“Over nine days, there was a lot of bonding with my daughter,” he said. “We had never spent time like that and it helped us get a closer relationship.”

Ellia also shared an important lesson about the trip with her father, he said.

“‘You don’t need to have technology to have fun,’” Melin quoted his daughter as saying.

More trips are planned, including one in November that will also include Brad Durrant, another employee from the Chandler branch.

“We don’t want to be known for just giving mortgages,” he said. “We want to give back to the community locally, nationally and globally … We want our partners to see we’re a great company with great people.”

The company plans to also build a health center and a school in Secanquin on future trips. Additionally, all of the employees in Academy’s Chander office played a role in the service project by helping the company to raise more than $100,000 to fund the construction of the water system, schoolhouse and health center. To learn more about the rewards program, visit

Academy Mortgage Corp. has four East Valley locations in Chandler and Gilbert and two in Mesa.

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