John Parks has had a major impact on Sioux Valley Community Credit Union’s operations, but perhaps his greatest contribution is his effect on staff.
“I can’t imagine working with someone other than John Parks,” says Katie Johnson, director of operations. “He’s a great coach and mentor, and his positive personality is addictive.”
In 2011, Sioux Valley Community—which serves a 12-county area of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota—lost its CEO, who was killed in a roadside accident. The economy was weak, and a large meat-packing employer had closed and laid off 1,400 workers.
Membership was in decline, lending was slow, and investment earnings were next to nothing. "That made it tough trying to keep three branches running,” recalls Johnson.
Parks arrived in March 2012, having previously served as branch manager for two other area credit unions. His accomplishments since then are impressive.
He added a debit card program, which helped the credit union bring back previous members and gain new ones. Next came user-friendly online banking with free bill pay. He increased advertising to communicate the credit union’s willingness to lend.
Parks completely rewrote loan policies, allowing greater flexibility to lend to those who qualify or need a second chance. Sioux Valley’s delinquency rate has stayed under 0.5%, and the credit union now promotes buy-down interest rates for loans financed elsewhere. Sioux Valley’s loan portfolio increased from $5.3 million to $9 million between March 2012 and August 2013.
“Our board and staff are engaged in the community, working with local schools and businesses,” he says. “Our staff does an excellent job researching needs and implementing their findings. Our board helps with everything from joining parades to celebrating staff victories.”
The credit union has partnered with Siouxland Community Action Agency to offer individual development accounts with matching funds from the Iowa Credit Union Foundation.
Parks is in his fourth year as president of the Northwest Iowa Chapter of Credit Unions.
His passion for credit unions has grown with his involvement, starting with his first visit to a credit union shortly after college. “I opened an account and was hooked because of the great service,” he recalls.
“Working for credit unions, I’ve received tremendous support from directors, staff, and professionals at all levels,” says Parks. "The people have made it easy to get involved, to learn, and to grow.”