POLAND – Brothers Isaac and Luke Schuster say they’ve always been outspoken, but they took that label to new heights when they launched a podcast to address issues in Poland.
On the day, Isaac, 27, and Luke, 42, are both mortgage officers for Nationwide Mortgage Bankers, but you wouldn’t know that just by looking at them, or even their office.
The Schuster brothers don’t fit the typical molds of mortgage officers when dressed in their work uniform of backside baseball caps, athletic shorts, and t-shirts that show off the tattoos. Luke’s Star Wars.
âYour classic bankers are in suits and ties, and we pride ourselves on being everyday guys you can relate to,â Isaac said.
A large print of a Lord of the Rings balrog, a replica of “Lucille the Baseball Bat” from the popular TV show “The Walking Dead” and a flag from their alma mater, South Range, all hang on their walls. At first glance, you might mistake these items for various decorations, but each artifact represents a side of it: the self-proclaimed “cheesy” side, the hometown pride side, and the media consumer turned creator. Nothing in their office says “ordinary” and they like it.
While their day jobs aren’t out of the ordinary, at night they transform into podcast hosts for The MLO Bros. Isaac came up with the idea due to the lack of business they and other local businesses experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.
The idea snowballed into a hard-hitting and popular show that has so far attracted nearly 4,000 Facebook subscribers and nearly 2,000 listeners every Tuesday and Thursday evening. They knew they couldn’t take advantage of their suddenly much bigger platform, so they decided to use it for good.
âIt snowballed into ‘holy crap, we’ve got our say on something’ and we have to use this platform for good because people care what we think; they listen to our opinion, âsaid Luke.
Luke noticed a lack of communication between local government officials and the people they serve, as well as a lack of accountability, so now they are broadcasting council meetings, council meetings, and have held candidate forums for the next elections. They also run community Facebook pages such as Everything Poland, Ohio, where residents can voice their concerns and mingle with each other.
A podcast with such an audience will certainly bring some cash flow, but the brothers haven’t kept a dime. Part of their mission with the podcast is to give back to local businesses and people in need in the Mahoning Valley. They have sponsored sports teams and individual players, and they estimate that they have donated close to $ 16,000 to various charities and organizations in the area over the past two years.
During the last Thanksgiving, the brothers distributed 500 turkeys to all who needed them. In typical Schuster brothers fashion, they turned the event into a spectacle by dressing in pilgrim and turkey costumes. there are only a few hours left in the day. He remembers it as his favorite memory so far.
While their dedication to improving their community may suggest that they were born and raised in the village, the brothers grew up in North Lima and frequented South Range. Luke graduated in 1997 and his name still appears in the school’s football hall of fame, while Isaac graduated in 2012 with years of basketball and football under his belt.
Luke attended Westminster College and Isaac attended Youngstown State University. Luke moved to Poland in 2007 with his wife, Maggie, a teacher at McKinley Elementary. They have three sons under 10: Lucas, Cameron and Ben.
Isaac followed suit nine years later in 2016 and lives in the village with his wife, Shelby, and their dachshund, Marshall. Isaac pointed out that Marshall won the weiner dog race at the Canfield Fair and that the trophy sits proudly in the corner of their unusual office.
Isaac is the youngest and Luke the oldest, with two sisters in between. Their 15-year age gap never raised a problem between them, but it did raise a few eyebrows. The couple are often mistaken for father and son or uncle and nephew, but the two have said their relationship can no longer be brotherly. In typical younger brother fashion, Isaac did everything his older brother did, but maybe he followed a little more than some.
Luke started his mortgage loan agent career 20 years before Isaac, and he hired Isaac to work in his Nationwide Mortgage satellite office once he moved to Poland in 2019 after bouncing back from different banking jobs. He said he never quite matched the suit and tie banker character and wanted to be his own boss. At the office, Luke is Isaac’s boss, but after hours of recording the podcast, they say they are partners, but even the partners argue every now and then.
âWe always got along, but we clash, I mean it’s hard to work with your brother,â Isaac said. While their fraternal relationship sometimes creates an unusual working dynamic, the two say they balance each other; Isaac is the dreamer and Luke is the go-getter.
The brothers’ involvement in the community grows with each podcast and event, and they hope to continue to benefit the village they now call home through their donations and advocacy, all with a little bit of benefit.