While, overall, assets among local credit unions were up this year from 2008, Red Crown Federal Credit Union showed the largest increase.
Red Crown’s assets for 2009 are at $115 million, up 32.1 percent from 2008’s $87.6 million in 2008.
Membership at Red Crown is up as well, with the credit union showing 19,007 members in 2009, up 45.2 percent from 13,093 in 2008, also the highest increase reported by local credit unions.
Red Crown’s president and CEO Marsha Schmidt said credit union assets are up across the board because “of the economic cycle we’re in.”
“People are saving more money, they’re not spending as much money, and the other thing is, they want to keep their money somewhere safe. So where some people might have been putting their money in the stock market, now they’re putting it in their bank or their credit union,” Schmidt said.
But the credit union’s growth in membership, she said, is due to active steps the company has taken to expand its presence in the Tulsa MSA and in Mayes County.
Effective July 1, 2008, Red Crown Federal Credit Union merged with the Mayes County Federal Credit Union in Pryor to form Red Crown Federal Credit Union-Mayes County Branch.
Schmidt said the merger, while good for Red Crown’s growth, also expands the services offered to Mayes County residents, providing them with credit cards, home equity loans and access to credit union service centers, which they didn’t previously have.
In August of 2008, Red Crown opened a branch in Broken Arrow at 3101 W. Kenosha St. in an existing bank building.
“We’ve gone from having three locations to five locations in one year,” Schmidt said.
“It was a good, challenging year,” said Wendy Pivarnik, assistant vice president and marketing coordinator for Red Crown.
The credit union’s other locations are at 5001 E. 91st St., 509 S. Boston, Ste. 3, and 2738 E. 51st St., Ste. 140.
Mayes County Good Fit
Schmidt said Red Crown chose to merge with Mayes County Federal Credit Union because of the demographics of the credit union’s membership and also because it is the only credit union in both Pryor and Mayes County.
“Our field of membership went as far out as Rogers County, and Mayes County is the next county over, so it made a good, contiguous field of membership,” Schmidt said.
She credits two-thirds of Red Crown’s increase in assets and 8,000 of its new members to the merger.
She said Red Crown expanded into Broken Arrow because of customer demand.
“Our members expressed a desire to have a branch in Broken Arrow,” she said. “An existing part of our membership lived over there and wanted to see us there. It’s a growing area, so we also felt like it was a great area.”
She said the move was accelerated by the fact that there was an existing bank building, complete with a drive-thru, available for purchase.
“That sped up our process. We actually did it sooner than we thought we would. The bank building was exactly what we needed and in a very nice location, so it was an excellent opportunity. It’s done very well,” Schmidt said.
She acknowledged that financial institutions might typically hesitate to take on such rapid growth in a time of national economic uncertainty, but she said many of the events that took place in 2008 to allow for such growth were planned and in the works before the financial crisis hit.
“We certainly didn’t stop what we were doing because of the economy. But locally I think the economy has been very strong, so, I have to say, we haven’t seen the ill effects of the recession,” Schmidt said.
Getting the Name Out
Because Red Crown originated in 1938 to serve the members of Stanolind Oil & Gas and Amoco (before its merger with BP) and has only been available to all citizens in the Tulsa (and now Mayes County) MSA since 2001, Schmidt and Pivarnik recognize a need to grow membership and inform people in the area of its existence.
Pivarnik said Red Crown has increased its marketing effort in the past three to four years.
“We just felt we need to get Red Crown’s name out there. You hear a lot of times, ‘Well, I’ve never heard of Red Crown.’ You still get that, but there’s more people who have heard of us,” Pivarnik said.
Schmidt said that, since Red Crown grew so rapidly in the past year, she’s not projecting much growth for next year.
“We actually grew more than we anticipated, so we’re not necessarily anticipating more asset growth,” she said. “But we do anticipate growing more members. And we can do that without changing assets. We have money to lend. We can take on some more loans.” ?′