Retiring CEO Takes Pride in Serving Blue-Collar Workers
'We want to be known as the institution that helps you.'
JEFF GREEN HAS SET A STRONG BEAT since becoming the CEO of GROhio Community Credit Union 15 years ago.
And in the past four years, the credit union moved to new headquarters in Mansfield, Ohio, changed to a community charter, and more than doubled its assets from $4 million to $9 million.
He credits much of the growth to serving the lending needs of members—45% of whom have D and E credit scores and would be shunned by most other financial institutions. In fact, auto dealerships and area banks regularly send customers who they can’t help to GROhio Community.
“We want to be known as the institution that helps you,” says Green, pointing to the start of the credit union movement in the 1930s. Credit unions at the time helped people, including many blue-collar workers who couldn’t get loans anywhere else. GROhio has about 4,500 blue-collar workers within half a mile of its headquarters.
“They are our best members,” Green says. “They know that if they make their payments on time, they can get other loans here.”
It’s a win-win situation for the credit union, which enjoys a loan yield rate of 9.8%, according to Green.
He recommends that other credit union leaders similarly help blue-collar workers, which is still one of the biggest differences between credit unions and banks. “Credit unions have an opportunity to attract members from the banks who aren’t serving them.”
Green expects to teach that philosophy to his successor before retiring in six months and expects to share that philosophy as a credit union consultant after retirement.
He adds that serving members in the future will mean providing the technology for payments and other financial services that members expect.
“We’re going from a cash to a cashless society,” Green says. “We have an opportunity to provide members with the technology to satisfy their interest in continuing with a credit union or in moving from a bank. Unless people need to change something with their account, they don’t come in to a branch to get cash anymore. We have to meet their needs.”
Meeting the needs of members is something that Green takes pride in, though he is also quick to credit his associates: “They are the backbone and the front line of the credit union. I thank them every day. They make the credit union what it is.”
As a leader, Green has made numerous contributions to his credit union, but he says he takes the most pride in serving members.
“In the past 15 years, I have helped a lot of people with loans that they couldn’t get elsewhere,” he says. “I hope members remember me as the one who helped them.”