MADISON, Wis. (10/16/13)--Dick Ensweiler set off for college to become a basketball coach, but got sidetracked. After taking a summer job at State Central CU in Milwaukee, Wis., he was hooked on credit unions.
Credit Union Magazine is celebrating the credit union movement's rock stars--those ordinary people who manage to pull off the extraordinary--in honor of International Credit Union Day, which is Thursday.
This is the second of five credit union rock stars News Now will highlight this week.
"The treasurer/manager and I hit it off well to the extent that he promised me a position when I got out of college and the military," Ensweiler said. "I took him up on it and he created a first-ever management training program. It paid off, and 18 months later I became the treasurer/manager of the Harley Davidson CU."
It's almost 50 years later and, in a way, the Cornerstone Credit Union League CEO did become a coach--employing traits such as consensus-building, perseverance and adaptability in the face of difficult circumstances.
The most recent of the many credit union milestones he's experienced is the merger of the Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas credit union leagues.
"Leagues were facing shrinking numbers and finding it more difficult to provide full services," Ensweiler said. "We saw value in a larger organization with broader reach. It took four years to get through all the questions, answers, and considerations, but once interested parties remained at the table, it took less than a year to come to an agreement. The merger is everything we hoped it would be. We're more relevant now than before. With 650 credit unions, we have a bigger voice with potential partners, vendors, regulators, and national associations."
Ensweiler also came to credit unions' aid in 1974 when disintermediation caused savings rates to skyrocket from 6% to 22%. "Credit unions could not meet members' withdrawal requests and I was appointed to a task force of league presidents to find a solution," he said. "We proposed to the Credit Union National Association a new financial and support system--and created the corporate credit union network."
Honoring credit union rock stars is just one way credit unions and more than 196 million credit union members in 100 countries are preparing to "unite for good" with activities to celebrate the credit union difference and demonstrate the value of credit unions on ICU Day.
This year's theme, "Credit Unions Unite for Good," builds on the Credit Union National Association's Unite for Good campaign, which has rallied credit unions to work to remove barriers, create awareness of the good credit unions do for members and their communities, and foster service excellence to encourage Americans to choose credit unions as their best financial partner.