Dan Eisner defines himself by his career, which is perhaps why he’s done so well in it.
“I’m not much of a spiritual man,” he says, “I’m very career-oriented.”
Eisner is founder of True North Mortgage, which operates three mortgage firms in Canada – two in Calgary and one in Toronto. But despite his stated drive, these impressive career stats didn’t come easy to the 35-year-old businessman.
After earning his MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario in 2001, Eisner started out as a strategy consultant at Accenture in Mississauga. Unfortunately, in the wake of 9/11, Eisner, along with many of his coworkers, was laid off. As a fiercely career-minded individual, the layoff not only came as a financial blow to him, but a personal one, as well.
“Not having a place to work took a toll on me emotionally,” says Eisner, who took whatever odd jobs he could get for a year and a half in order to pay his mortgage and support his wife and newborn son.
Moving his family back to Calgary led Eisner to a job in mortgages. “It turns out I had a knack for mortgages and did well, even though I had never really thought about doing it,” he says. It was around this time that Eisner’s career started to pick up, or, as he says, “my luck just changed on me.”
Eisner says he realized most homebuyers didn’t seem to know they could get a better mortgage rate through a brokerage firm than from a bank. This led him to create a hybrid of the two that would offer the reliability of a bank, but the better rates of a brokerage firm, or even better.
Eisner opened his first True North Mortgage office in Calgary in 2006, and since then two others have followed. True North employees don’t work on commission, and the business operates as a “mortgage store,” with customers able to walk right in without an appointment.
The idea took off and, in 2007, Eisner appeared on CBC’s The Dragon’s Den, a series that evaluates business ideas, and was offered a deal. He ultimately decided to turn down the financing offered by the series in order to maintain ownership of his idea.
True North has been able to ride out, and even benefit from, the current recession by focusing solely on clients with good credit. The formula seems to be working. “Business has increased 400 percent over the past three years,” says Eisner.
In 2008, True North ranked sixth among Canadian mortgage brokers for volume of mortgages handled, and so far in 2009 has been the largest reseller of ING Direct mortgages in the country.
Despite claims of being completely career-focused, for the past three years Eisner has also volunteered with the Inn from the Cold Society, acting as the organization’s treasurer. “As a man with a young family, I like that Inn from the Cold keeps families together with their kids,” he says. “I also make money off housing, and here are people without hous-ing, so I feel it’s a really good place for me to give back.”
Eisner, who donates between five and 20 hours every month to Inn from the Cold, is also very proud of the fact the Society was able to triple its budget and pay for Calgary’s first permanent homeless-family shelter in 2008.
While his impressive career may speak for itself, Eisner humbly attributes his successes to circumstances and luck.
“I’ve had a lot of good luck,” he says. “I was born in the right place, to the right parents, went to the right school, had the right friends and I happened to come to the right idea at the right time.”
Why he’s the top: He has opened three walk-in mortgage stores, two in Calgary and one in Toronto, and is committed to helping homeless families find shelter through his work with the Inn from the Cold Society.
The key to his success: Eisner attributes his success to a winning combination of good education, good support and a dollop of good luck. “My luck just changed on me,” he says.