August 7, 2012
Northwest Community Credit Union and UFCW Northwest Federal Credit Union last week announced plans to join forces, continuing the recent trend of credit union mergers in Oregon and Washington.
UFCW Northwest’s lone branch, located at 12650 SE Stark Street in Portland, Ore., began operating as Northwest Community Credit Union as of Aug. 1, and the transition of membership accounts will take place Sept. 15.
The Stark Street branch marks Northwest Community’s first branch inside the Portland city limits since moving from a location in Portland’s Lloyd Center to a shared branch with Unitus Community Credit Union in suburban Beaverton, Ore., approximately 11 years ago. Northwest Community President and CEO John D. Iglesias explained that expanding direct access for members and being able “to continue to have a strong presence in Portland” were primary benefits of the merger.
“Our shared goal with UFCW Northwest Federal Credit Union is to continue to serve all our members throughout the state who benefit from expanding services in the Portland market,” Iglesias said.
For UFCW Northwest, the merger represents an opportunity to provide their membership with an instant array of expanded services and options, such as a full-service mortgage department offering first-time buyers’ programs; auto loans on location at participating dealerships; a broader package of deposit account offerings; and enhanced consumer loan products—not to mention instant access to Northwest Community’s 16-branch network with locations throughout Oregon.
“We began looking at the possibilities of a merger several months ago,” UFCW Northwest Federal CEO Trisha Baker said. “As we are facing difficult times in our country, small credit unions are finding it increasingly difficult to thrive by managing things the same way they have in the past. Our board of directors recognized that in order to serve our members to the best of our abilities, we needed to find ways to strengthen our organization.”
UFCW Northwest Federal Credit Union members voted to approve the merger with Northwest Community Credit Union on Monday, July 23. Members have received notification by mail. In a prepared notice to UFCW Northwest Federal Credit Union members, the UFCW Northwest Federal Credit Union board echoed Baker’s comments and explained that a difficult economy had compounded the need to strengthen the organization to serve its membership’s needs.
“After extensive research…our evaluations showed that [our] two credit unions share similar views toward member service, staff development, and a sense of community,” read the notice of a members’ special meeting to vote on the merger.
UFCW’s situation is far from unique, as the merger is the fourth involving a Northwest-based credit union in just the past couple months. Harborstone and Prevail Credit Unions, each based in the Puget Sound region of Washington, announced merger plans in July. Horizon Credit Union also successfully merged with Montana First Credit Union in Missoula, Mont., and Kitsap Credit Union, based in Bremerton, Wash., announced a merger with nearby Quimper Community Credit Union in early June.
Iglesias said these particular merger talks began very organically and moved quickly and smoothly.
“Trisha and I were able to have a frank conversation about it,” Iglesias said, “and, boy, it just made a lot of sense.”
“By combining our credit unions,” Baker said, “we are providing our members with access to a partner with the resources to enable members to equip themselves for navigating the ever-changing financial services arena.”
Current UFCW Northwest Federal Credit Union employees have been retained as Northwest Community staff. Baker will take on the role of branch manager and business development officer for Northwest Community following the merger.
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