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Credit unions plan rebranding, new branches

A new name, Volt, comes with a cultural shift, and the market leader takes on high-traffic property

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Executives of Community Financial Credit Union announced at the late June annual meeting they’re changing the name and brand identity in a distinct cultural shift at the 80-year-old financial outfit.

The new name: Volt Credit Union.

“There are over 1,000 credit unions in the U.S. that have ‘community’ in the name,” said President and CEO Loretta Roney. “We’re looking to be a little disruptive, to add life and energy and moxie to banking.”

Roney said about 350 members who attended the June 23 meeting at University Plaza Hotel were first to hear of the rebranding, which will debut beginning in July.

“We’re starting a campaign. Our trademark is going to be Revolt Against Banking as Usual,” she said.

Other taglines will follow during the campaign, she said. The CFCU board of directors has been working with Frank & Maven on the rebranding work, which she said will include the tags: Revolt Against Suits and Ties and Revolt Against High Interest Rates and Fees.

“Our new culture will have our staff dressed in Volt T-shirts and tennis shoes every day,” Roney said. “Most are working class and working hard. We want to remove any barriers of judgment.”

The new logo, designed by Frank & Maven, emphasizes a lime green tone and incorporates a lightning bolt in the letter V. It’ll be prominently displayed on a new credit union building under construction in southwest Springfield.

Officials are investing over $2 million, she said, for an 11,000-square-foot office at 2624 W. Republic Road. The credit union currently operates one branch, on Tampa Street downtown, after vacating the 1220 E. Walnut Lawn St. branch to make way for Kum & Go’s recent convenience store expansion.

CFCU has some market share to regain after slipping a spot on Springfield Business Journal’s 2018 Largest Credit Unions list to rank No. 6 with $64 million in reported assets last year. With 7,242 members as of April in its nine-county footprint, the credit union’s membership was down 3.3 percent from the prior year.

Roney said the credit union’s seven-member board and five-member executive committee has worked on the new brand concept the last two years. They also created five culture codes for internal and external relations: learning, serving, resourcefulness, togetherness and humanness.

“We ditched the mission and vision statement and went with the five culture codes of how we work and function,” she said.

“We’re putting our stake in the ground. It’s not just a name and logo change. It’s a way of life we are starting.”

Making waves
While CFCU converts to Volt with a new swagger, the market’s top credit union has pegged vacant property on the busy South Glenstone Avenue corridor for expansion.

BluCurrent Credit Union is planning a first-quarter 2019 opening for a new branch at 3216 S. Glenstone Ave. Craig Tabor, the credit union’s president and CEO, said design plans are making their way through the city now with the aim of starting construction in 60-90 days. He said Base Construction & Management LLC expects the project to be completed in six months after breaking ground. The opening is slated for February or March next year.

Adjacent to a Central Bank branch and a Hampton Inn hotel, the site is across the street from Corwin Ford of Springfield. Tabor said BluCurrent entered a build-to-suit, land-lease agreement with property owner Kendall Combs for the roughly 2,500-square-foot planned branch.

“We are hoping and expecting to get some growth off of this location,” Tabor said. “The strategic plan is calling for growth.”

BluCurrent ranked first on Springfield Business Journal’s list this year of the area’s largest credit unions. The company reported 2017 assets of $178 million, deposits of $159.2 million, loans of $155.4 million and 21,790 members. Its member count more than doubled that of Assemblies of God Credit Union, which ranked second on the list.

Construction of the new branch is estimated at $500,000, Tabor said, noting the figure does not include land or site work costs. Buxton Kubik Dodd Design Collective is the architect for the project, which would make four BluCurrent locations.

Tabor added the branch would bring business back to South Glenstone. The credit union sold a location near Glenstone Avenue and Seminole Street around five years ago.

BluCurrent isn’t stopping at Glenstone.

Tabor said the credit union purchased property at the northeast corner of Campbell Avenue and Weaver Road for a new operations center and possible branch. BluCurrent’s operations are currently housed next to the credit union’s 1770 W. Sunset St. branch, Tabor said, noting the staff has outgrown the space.

“It’s amazing how quickly we have done that. We’ve done that in seven years,” he said. “We thought we had space for quite a while.”

Tabor said the new operations center likely would take two or three years to come to fruition. Within five years, BluCurrent plans to open one or two more branches, he said.

Brand moves
Roney said Volt Credit Union decided to make a splash with the name by signing on as presenting sponsor of 417 Magazine’s Ladies Who Launch networking event July 19 at Hickory Hills Country Club. Another promotion is slated for social media through the hashtag #417original.

The new south-side branch – also a Buxton Kubik Dodd project – is designed with an area to showcase homegrown businesses and people, from coffee shops and bakeries to musicians and artists. Roney envisions appearances by the featured locals to get to know the staff and customers.

“I went to Las Vegas to tour Zappos’ headquarters to help generate ideas for the internal design of the building and for creating a great workplace culture,” Roney said.

The idea is to create a social media push around the hashtag, she said, with the hope of replicating the viral #HotelVandivortBathroomSelfie phenomenon. Key to that, she said, is a “417 Originals” blog in development for the credit union’s new website by Hook Creative.

Inside the branch, the lobby will be outfitted with teller pods and dialogue towers to congregate around, as well as a coffee shop and play area for kids.

“We’re really trying to take away the traditional bank environment,” Roney said.


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