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Hometown hero

Nick Hellmich aims to keep members in good standing.

August 21, 2019

Nick Hellmich joined the credit union movement because “it’s an industry that aligns with my morals.”

After nearly four years of working in Oregon credit unions, Hellmich is proud of all the credit union does for its members and community.

“I’m proud of the way we help with the financial education and outreach to children, teaching them about credit cards and credit management, and interest rates,” says Hellmich, who after nearly four years at First Tech Federal Credit Union in Hillsboro, Ore., has moved to $248 million asset Wauna FCU in Clatskanie, Ore., as a member service manager.

A military veteran, Hellmich worked on jet engines in the U.S. Navy. “I don’t miss the smell of jet fuel at all and never want to go near a jet engine again,” he says.

That unsentimental view did not stand in the way of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, when it named Hellmich a Hometown Hero last March.

Hellmich attended several complimentary home games where he had the opportunity to tell fans about the credit union and encourage them to apply for a Blazers-First Tech credit card.

He’s not at all afraid to take bold steps to publicize credit unions. To help raise money for children’s hospitals, Hellmich volunteered to have his hair shaved off until he was wearing a tonsure—the Friar Tuck style of a ring of hair surrounding a completely bald top of the head.

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He wore it in public for a month, even attending a wedding in it, until his high school sweetheart wife lovingly told him to knock it off.

Hellmich also is a skip tracer, using an investigative technique to locate someone’s whereabouts, a skill he brought with him from his previous work experience.

He considered himself the last line of defense for First Tech in his role as recovery solutions senior collector.

His gift of gab helps him cold-call various companies and organizations for donations to good causes.

“I’ll even talk up the credit union industry at a bar, or anyplace for that matter,” he says. “I’m a walking example of the credit union movement.”

Inside First Tech he coached and educated employees in all departments via the credit union’s intranet and locates assets, such as motor vehicles and RVs.

“My job is to keep members in good standing by being able to say, ‘You’re not in good standing now, but my job is to get you there.’”

Outside of work, Hellmich whittles spoons and bowls—which he describes as “addictive and cathartic”—enjoying the calm and thoughtful moments that come when hand and brain are working together.

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