Throwing mud at the wall
Chris Warren has high expectations, for himself and others.
Terry Shoemaker, manager of $18 million asset State College (Pa.) Federal Credit Union, has a nickname for board member Chris Warren: Cat 6, as in Category 6 hurricane.
“He comes into the office like a whirlwind, firing ideas at us left, right, up, and down,” Shoemaker says of Warren. “It’s everything I can do to absorb all that he shares with us, and then before you know it, he’s back out the door.”
Warren can only laugh and acknowledge he’s a classic Type A personality. He’s a busy guy who, above all, sets high expectations for himself.
He teaches a class called construction technology at a local high school. “I teach kids how to build a house from the ground up,” Warren says. In his spare time, he builds and remodels homes himself. He’s also involved with state and county builders’ associations.
As a builder, he’s worked with banks, and before he was asked to serve on State College Federal’s board, he understood that credit unions stood for something different.
“They value personal relationships,” Warren says. “They know your name. They know your family.
You’re not going to get that at bank.”
As a teacher, Warren also understands the value of taking people out of their comfort zones. He calls it “throwing mud at the wall.
“Everybody has great ideas they might be hesitant about sharing,” Warren says. “When you have a good team, like we have, the best ideas come when everyone shares.
“And from a leadership standpoint, that’s more my leadership style: bringing that positive energy and encouraging everyone to try something new.”
Shoemaker credits Warren’s leadership as a major factor in helping the credit union improve its net income to $109,000 in 2017 from a negative $276,000 in 2013.
“He helped us rebuild our board,” Shoemaker says. “There’s no rubberstamping of anything. I don’t have to come up with all the ideas anymore. His two favorite words are ‘What if?’”
For his part, Warren advocates the team approach. “It’s all about getting everyone on board,” he explains. “Once everyone’s willing to work as a team, good things will happen. I’m just fascinated by the process of bringing people together.”