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DOUG BLANKENSHIP says he was “flabbergasted” when he learned he had been nominated as a Credit Union Magazine Rock Star.
It’s easy to understand why: In little more than a year at $50 million asset Cove Federal Credit Union in Edgewood, Ky., Doug’s people skills and insights into human nature have helped the credit union greatly streamline its lending procedures.
“Working as a team, we’ve been able to improve our loan turnaround time to better serve our members and their lending needs,” says Blankenship, Cove Federal’s senior underwriter.
He arrived at the credit union with years of retail experience. “One insight I brought with me was knowing there’s more to a lending decision than just looking at what others do when they decide whether to approve a loan.”
For one thing, it’s easy to get stuck in habits, he says. “Human beings are creatures of habit. When I came here, I put myself through an educational program that involved learning about our collections department and detecting any patterns in defaults or bankruptcies.”
What he learned has helped him spot details in members’ financial affairs that will help Cove Federal reach safe yes/no lending decisions.
Still, he says, you can bring all your experience and intuition to the table but they won’t guarantee the soundness of a loan. “You can’t see the future—which could include a borrower’s loss of a job or even incarceration. You can have an A+ caliber member who has an unexpected ‘uh-oh’ moment.”
Of course, different types of loans have different risk levels. Blankenship says that’s what makes the job interesting: Each loan has an intriguing element of novelty. “Every time I receive a loan application, it’s something new.”
Blankenship’s desk job gives no hint of what he’s like during off hours. Once an avid motorcyclist, he has ridden more than 40,000 miles. That’s the equivalent of crossing the U.S. west to east and back again almost seven times.
These days he no longer rides motorcycles, except for an occasional spin around the block.
“I’ve cut myself off from them,” he says. “What changed me was three kids. My life with them is Little League, gymnastics, and diaper changes. No time for bikes.”