Spotlight: Rick Wieczorek

CUs can be ‘a far larger part of the financial industry landscape.’

May 17, 2011

Who: Rick Wieczorek
What: President/CEO,
Mid-Atlantic FCU
Where: Germantown, Md.

What it means for my CU to be a local nominee for the national Jefferson Award for community service: It really is an honor—this award is referred to as the “Nobel Prize for community and public service.” It’s great recognition for our employees, our board of directors, and our supervisory committee who give so much back to the community. It’s rare for any business or organization to meet such ambitious goals for volunteerism. We contributed more than 1,200 volunteer hours in 2010, and we were really able to make a difference in others’ lives. I’m immensely proud of our whole team.

We’re part of an elite group: Only about a dozen organizations in the Washington, D.C.-area were nom­inated for this award. Our nomination is especially impressive when you think of the many very large businesses in the community.

Volunteerism is an ongoing endeavor for our CU: We’ve been setting volunteer goals for the past four years. Our employees, board of directors, and supervisory committee have all embraced the effort. They make it happen, and they keep improving it.

Our CU is unique in our market because: It doesn’t have a charter for one specific type of member. Washington is a highly competitive market. Some credit unions in the area, for example, focus on public sector employees or the military. They already have a ready, willing, and targeted membership base. But our charter allows us to serve anyone who lives, works, worships, or conducts business in Montgomery County, Md. So we have to compete with many other institutions, while at the same time marketing ourselves to everyone.

Similarly, we have the ability to show members how we’re truly different from other financial institutions. We’re sharply focused not only on why credit unions make sense for traditional services like checking and savings accounts, but also how we can offer everything large corporate banks do, including mortgages, business loans, and investment management services.

How my professional goals have changed in the past five years: I want all people in the industry to envision credit unions as a far larger part of the financial industry landscape. We recently rewrote our vision statement to express the goal of becoming “a billion-dollar credit union, focused on service, innovation, and community involvement.”

How my personal goals have changed: I want to make a difference in my community and be active in my family members’ lives. On a more specific level, I want to “beat the bus” during this year’s Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile run. If you can’t keep a certain pace during the race, a bus picks you up and takes you to the finish line. My goal is to finish on my own! This is the first year I’ve run this race (or any race for that matter).

The most important skills for a CU CEO:

  • Have a plan and stick to it—no matter what;
  • Aggressively listen to members and employees;
  • Communicate—at every opportunity and with all interested parties—the big picture and the important roles people play.
  • Keep a laser-like focus on what your organization needs to be in the future (not what it is today) to create “member value.”
  • Encourage and reward creativity.

I have plenty of support because: Most of my immediate family lives in this area, except for my brother, Jeff, who lives in Roanoke, Va., where he works at Member One Federal Credit Union. Most of my extended family lives in the Detroit area.

A story that few colleagues have heard: I have the “fastest couch” in northern Virginia! Every Fourth of July my neighborhood sponsors a race in which we put wheels on couches and race them down a hill. This year I plan to use the event as an opportunity to raise money for a good cause.

A good description of my personality: Works hard, plays hard, cares about others. Makes a positive difference. No sitting on the sidelines!

A new hobby I’ve discovered recently: motorcycles. I ride a Harley, which my wife allows me to enjoy “only in the neighborhood.” It’s a blast, and allows me to feel like a real “wild hog.”