Robby Glore is the CEO at Combined Employees Credit Union in Warner Robins, Ga. He’s also the administrative assistant, collector, electrician, roofer, painter, and plumber at the $13 million asset institution.
“That’s the beauty and downfall of a small credit union,” he says. “We wear a lot of hats.”
Glore didn’t always have so many hats. He’s worked at financial institutions since 1974, someone who “starts in the mail room and works their way up.”
When retail banking became more income driven, he moved to the credit union movement in 1991.
“Credit unions were right in my wheelhouse,” he says. “It was a breath of fresh air. It was like, ‘This is what I love to do. This is helping people.’”
Being a CEO was on Glore’s bucket list, but taking the reins at the struggling Combined Employees posed stiff challenges. Still, Glore felt he could turn the credit union around and accepted the job in December 2016.
“It was scary to start,” he says. “It took every bit of knowledge I’ve acquired to turn the financials around.”
While the worst part of the turnaround was trimming staff, Glore also restructured lending, visited select employee groups, analyzed expenses, negotiated new vendor contracts, and reinvigorated the credit union’s “people helping people” philosophy.
It took time for the changes to pay dividends, as the credit union endured four years of losses. During the 2019 exam, an examiner told Glore, “I can see everything you’ve done here. It will work. It’s just going to take more time.”
That became the knot at the end of Glore’s rope. He held on to it, and the credit union’s financials started to turn around in August 2020.
The Combined Employees team turned a $44,000 deficit halfway through 2020 into a $5,000 loss at year’s end. In 2021, the credit union posted $53,000 in income for the year.
That year, the credit union received the Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Award, and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions named it Credit Union of the Year for institutions with less than $100 million in assets.
Glore, who enjoys bowling, golfing, fishing, and spending time with family, likes to tell members, “You own this credit union, so help me build it.”
Employees and members have Combined Employees moving in the right direction, but it still faces the same challenges affecting all small credit unions.
“Succeeding takes credit unions coming together and helping each other. That’s how we’re going to survive,” Glore says. “I love my credit union, I love what it stands for, and I love that we help people.”