“Our goal, whether we’re talking about today or tomorrow, is to exceed member expectations. To do that, we can’t lose sight of what members love about us, and their ideas are what fuels our innovation,” said Olan Jones, CEO and president of ECU.
Significant achievements and project starts that occurred in 2017 and early 2018 are indicators for what lies ahead for the organization, he said.
NEW KINGSPORT BUILDING
With growth in members and in the services offered, he said one of the most visible changes Kingsport residents will see is the construction of new administrative office space. ECU operates 25 full-service branches in Tennessee, Virginia, and Texas, and has also incorporated technology that allows members to manage their finances from anywhere
“You can’t have growth like we’ve encountered and not have people behind the scenes doing a lot of work,” Jones said.ECU has about 500 employees in the greater Kingsport area.
The new 10-acre site on Wilcox Drive, set to open in early 2019, will also accommodate the construction of a second 60,000-square-foot building to accommodate our office space needs into the future. The support staff facility is to house about 200 employees in close proximity to the nearby Eastman headquarters on MeadowView Parkway.
ECU’s growth has been efficient as ECU has heavily utilized information technology and process improvements. To support growth, ECU has worked smarter (not harder) to maintain our cost advantaged position while offering faster better services to members, Jones said.
NEW NORTON MORTGAGE CENTER
ECU also opened a new Mortgage Lending Center in Norton, Va. in February 2018, which is the first of its kind for the organization. The Mortgage Lending Center will bring quality mortgage services to these markets. He said pricing and service will give consumers a better set of choices when shopping for a mortgage product.
“We do a lot of research and planning when forecasting full-service branch expansions and that takes time, as it should. We think the new Norton office offers a much faster way to enter a new community than we’ve had in the past. We look forward to monitoring the success of this office,” Jones said.
DETAILS OF ECU, ITS HISTORY AND FUTURE
After reaching $1 billion in assets in 2001, ECU has grown to be a $3.8 billion financial institution. Originally formed in the 1930s to offer financial services to Tennessee Eastman employees, not Eastman Chemical Col, in 2005 ECU expanded its reach to include everyone in several counties in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Texas.
ECU today serves about 190,000 members, a number that has more than quadrupled since 2000. Eastman Credit Union recently announced a $13 million extraordinary dividend for 2017 — the largest annual payout in its history. ECU’s total payout to members will reach $105 million in 2018.
As for smiles, in 2017, ECU members returned the highest-ever results in the happy member survey conducted by an external market research firm. In addition, ECU achieved the highest rating when compared to peers for exceeding member service expectations in Mystery Shop results.
But happiness doesn’t end in ECU branches. Last year, ECU returned more than $1 million to 150 community and charitable organizations in its service areas, totaling about $6 million given back in recent years.
“We find that if the people in our communities are better served, have adequate resources, and are healthier, then we all do better. Our volunteer board of directors is very supportive of programs and initiatives that will have long-lasting, positive impacts,” Jones said.
MEMBERS ARE NO. 1
Community support is important to ECU’s board, management, and staff, but members remain our first priority. That’s why in late 2017 the board of directors approved the highest-ever Extraordinary Dividend payout of $13 million, bringing the total returned to members to $105 million since 1998, he said.
“Empowering members and giving them the technological and educational resources they need to be good stewards of their finances is part of providing value-adding products and services. At the same time, we must determine the safety and security of new technology,” Jones said.
ECU introduced online account opening. This technology makes it easy for individuals to open accounts, and apply for loans 24/7 in as little as 15 minutes via an online, secure environment.
Another new member offering provides members with instant control of their card accounts using ECU’s mobile app. Last year, ECU introduced a CardControl service that lets members turn their debit and credit cards on and off with a single touch, set preferences, receive real-time transaction alerts, and more.
Member feedback on ECU’s online banking services resulted in a December 2017 recognition from Magnify Money. ECU’s mobile banking app is ranked second in the nation among the top 110 banks and credit unions.
SOCIAL MEDIA, WEBSITE USED
To share information faster, ECU launched Facebook and Twitter social media platforms. Keeping members informed also includes offering financial education. ECU offered a record number of seminars in 2017, and a full slate of topics is set for 2018.
As the year came to an end, ECU celebrated as membership exceeded 200,000 and assets reached $4 billion.
“The milestones reached in 2017 were related to providing the best possible experience for our members. Members love us for the service and for the extraordinary difference we provide just because we care about them and their futures,” Jones said.
To kick off 2018, ECU launched a new website that looks good and works well on smart phones, tablets and computers improving members’ experiences 24/7.
While ECU has announced the construction of infrastructures needed to support the ever growing membership, Jones said you can rest assured that management and staff are constantly evaluating new products, services, and technologies. Alongside the commitment to providing the best quality and convenience, members can expect a few things will continue: exceptional service, great rates on loans and deposits, value adding products and services, additional locations, new ATMs, integrated technologies and big smiles.