Movement’s difference drives growth

Ben Bauer believes in cooperation among cooperatives principle.

September 25, 2020

Sometimes a test drive isn’t just a test drive. It’s an audition.

Ben Bauer was working at a transitional job at an auto dealer when he met Darlyne Keller, chief administrative officer at $287 million asset Simplicity Credit Union in Marshfield, Wis.

When Keller told Bauer he “didn’t seem like a car salesman,” Bauer told her he had recently moved on from his co-owned print and graphic design company. Keller mentioned the credit union was looking for a marketing director.

“I told her I didn’t think a job at a bank was right for me,” Bauer recalls. “I was lucky she gave me the best elevator speech about the credit union difference.”

And that made all the difference to Bauer, who joined the staff in 2016.

An integral force in Simplicity’s 33% growth in memberships and assets from 2016 to 2020, Bauer’s marketing team has received CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Diamond Awards every year since 2016.

In 2018, the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry recognized the credit union as “Firm of the Year,” an award Bauer had set out to help achieve.

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He’s also become a strong advocate for the credit union movement.

A development educator, Bauer raises funds for local food pantries. He gets his hands dirty in a local community garden, which Simplicity staff plants, maintains, and harvests. The garden provides more than 1,200 pounds of fresh produce annually for those in need.

This is nothing new to Bauer, who credits his work ethic to helping out his father’s agricultural supply business, beginning at age eight.

“I did everything from cleanup to working on the production line.” he says.

Putting the principle of cooperation among cooperatives into action, Bauer played a key role in founding Exclamation Services, a credit union service organization that provides back-office support to small credit unions, as well as nonprofits and small businesses.

A member of the Filene Research Institute’s i3 program, Bauer believes in weaving innovation into the fabric of credit union operations.

“If we are to continue to grow as a movement, we need to continually ask ourselves, ‘What does it really mean to serve our members?’” he says. “There are so many moving parts, not just from COVID-19, but fintechs and other disrupters. We can’t settle.”

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