CRYSTAL LAKE – Inside their Crystal Lake headquarters along Route 176, the roughly three dozen employees at Exemplar Financial Network work to ensure their clients’ customized financial plans succeed decades later.
The reputation has helped the network attract thousands of customers in the years since President David Hubbard founded the financial services company in 1990. Outside of the office, Exemplar employees have developed another reputation over the years, usually on display in a nonprofit organization’s board room or a community event sponsorship.
Never required but always encouraged, volunteerism within the Exemplar organization has become an instinctive activity, like the numbers employees crunch daily for commercial clients, individuals and their families.
“The hardest part about volunteering is getting into it. People don’t know where to turn. So, you give them an opportunity to do that through the business or during work hours, then it expands outside of work hours,” Exemplar financial adviser Cameron Hubbard said. “It’s a culture that has been created here.”
Volunteerism at Exemplar helped the company secure the overall Commitment to Community award and the Workplace of the Year award for midsized employers during the Northwest Herald’s Commitment to McHenry County awards program last month.
The program recognizes numerous businesses and nonprofit organizations that have demonstrated a consistent pattern of improving the quality of life in McHenry County.
Growing up in Crystal Lake, Cameron Hubbard and sister Devon Hubbard, Exemplar vice president of business development, saw that workplace culture take root through the numerous community roles their dad – David Hubbard – fulfilled over the years
A recognizable name in the city, David Hubbard spent nearly 20 years on the Crystal Lake District 47 school board, volunteered at the Crystal Lake Jaycees and helped develop Leadership Greater McHenry County, along with various other volunteer activities.
He carried the civic pride to his work, joining his dad’s small life insurance agency in the 1980s, ,and expanding its services through the Exemplar Financial Network after an illness forced his dad out of work, Cameron and Devon Hubbard said.
“Being a part of a community like Crystal Lake made me want to give back, and my dad has always given back,” Devon Hubbard said. “It’s been one of the core values – as part of his business – to help the community.”
Exemplar and its employees actively participate each year in community events and roughly 20 nonprofit organizations, including Big Brothers, Big Sisters of McHenry County, the United Way of McHenry County and the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Shaun Tessmer, Exemplar manager of adviser services who nominated the company for the Commitment to McHenry County awards, serves on the Big Brothers, Big Sisters board and volunteers as a Big, mentoring children in the county.
Before joining Exemplar in 2007, Tessmer said he didn’t have the drive to volunteer his time to community organizations.
But his attitude changed once he started working with David Hubbard, who encourages employees to seek areas they are passionate about and remains flexible if their volunteerism conflicts with work, Tessmer said.
“People get into their bubbles, and they don’t like to leave their bubbles,” he said. “Since being at Exemplar and seeing the staff, people here have expanded their bubbles and given to charities or volunteered.”
The Hubbards’ longstanding presence within the Crystal Lake area now goes back seven generations, and the family’s history has helped employees at Exemplar embrace a culture built around philanthropy, said Jennifer Johnson, executive vice president who has been with the company 17 years.
As more employees see others volunteer their time, it helps strengthen the organization and also the community, she said.
“It’s great to give back but also creates a great opportunity for leadership development for our staff because they are involved in volunteering on boards or projects going on,” Johnson said. “We hopefully give something but also gain something.”