With a childhood nickname of “Larry the Lender,” he was destined to work at a credit union.
“Lending has always been in my blood,” acknowledges Larry Ellifritz. “When I was a kid, I’d lend my birthday and Christmas money to my brothers and instead of charging them interest I’d have them do my chores.”
Ellifritz started at Consolidated Community Credit Union (CCCU) in Portland, Ore., 21 years ago as a consumer loan officer and eventually worked his way up the ladder.
He’s now president/CEO of the $205 million asset credit union.
Just as he was as a kid, he remains a big proponent of sharing and collaboration, working with 20 credit unions in four western states to process mortgages.
“This is my soapbox: There’s no reason for all of us [credit unions] to reinvent the wheel,” Ellifritz says. “Many of our lending and marketing programs are an amalgamation of several successful credit unions’ programs.
"It just never made sense to think I could create a perfect program from scratch," he continues. "Visiting and talking to other lending and marketing professionals is invaluable. Learning from their success and failures is the key to building a great product. It may sound a bit corny, but we are all much stronger as an industry if we work together.”
And inside the credit union, Ellifritz says success stems from a passionate, driven team.
“We reach ‘success’ when employees and members never want to leave the credit union,” he explains. “I had an employee tell me he was moving and that he had to give his notice. He was commuting three hours a day, and he just couldn’t make the drive anymore.
"I had never had anyone get that emotional when giving notice. It was sad to have this employee leave the credit union, but it also made me feel good that he enjoyed working here that much. We kept in touch over the next two years, and with the aid of some technology, he’s now working remotely and doing a great job.”