Mike Tucker worked alongside staff and board members to build eight Habitat for Humanity homes in the area around Parkersburg, W. Va., nailing up siding, doing roofing, and installing drywall.
“You wouldn’t want me building your house, but I’m a pretty good helper,” says Tucker, CEO at West Virginia Central Federal Credit Union.
But he’s done a bang-up job of building a credit union and its surrounding communities through compassion, financial know-how, and an enthusiasm for people and the credit union movement.
Tucker, a 40-year credit union veteran, joined West Virginia Central Federal in 1994 as CEO. He took a select employee group-based credit union with 3,000 members and $19 million in assets and transformed it into a federally chartered institution with 23,000 members and $295 million in assets.
“I’ve been truly blessed to get into something I love,” Tucker says. “It’s a passion.”
Community outreach is one of the pillars of West Virginia Central Federal’s philosophy, and it will designate $325,000 to address community needs in 2022, including a $200,000 donation to Discovery World on Market, a regional STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) destination.
The credit union’s growth took place against a background of economic hardship. More than 65% of its members are low-income, but the credit union provides both dignity for members and products to serve their needs.
West Virginia Central Federal consistently has some of the lowest auto loan rates and the highest savings rates of any area financial institution. The credit union recently refinanced an auto loan from another institution, reducing the interest rate from 27% to 4.5%.
“We know our members want to be treated with compassion and understanding because it’s tough to come in and talk about where you’re struggling,” says Tucker. “It’s easy to give loans to people with 850 credit scores, but we want to serve all of our members.”
Low auto loan rates are possible because of the credit union’s strong profitability and capitalization, according to Tucker.
Staff training allows the credit union to more effectively communicate with low-income members to learn their needs, Tucker says. “We consider ourselves professional problem solvers, and our job is to listen and learn.”