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Southland FCU Embraces Change; Finds Success
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 5:55 AM

When an organization sets a new course, it can be unsettling.  But change – rather by choice or necessity – can also mean even greater opportunities for an organization.  That has proved to be the case for Southland FCU.  

Southland FCU opened its doors in 1963, serving the workers and family members of the Southland Paper Mill in Lufkin.  By the end of its first year, the credit union had reached just over $3 million in assets and was serving a couple of hundred members. 

Over the next 40 years, the credit union continued to grow in assets and members.  However, in 2003, the credit union learned that the mill would be shutting down.  According to its current president and CEO Jonathan Matthews, the board of directors at the credit union was acutely aware of the effect the paper mill closing would have on the credit union’s future.

In October 2003, the credit union expanded its field of membership and became a community charter.  The following year, the credit union took in Houston-Trinity County Teachers FCU, and once again expanded the field of membership to include anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in and businesses and other legal entities located in Houston and Trinity County.

With additional points of service now available, Matthews – who joined the credit union in 2008 - says membership continues to grow. 

“In 2012, 654 people joined our credit union, bringing our total membership to 5,192,” says Matthews. “In addition we approved 1,456 loans last year, funding over $14 million.  On top of that we grew over $3.2 million in deposits, bringing our total assets to $26 million.” 

“We are excited that we have provided services for several generations of our credit unions members,” adds Matthews.

As the credit union looks ahead to the next 50 years, Matthews says some exciting changes are coming.  In January, for example, the credit union became part of the CO-OP network.

“This is a new service benefit for our members who have a debit card with us.  Our members will not be charged an ATM service fee when they use one of the over 28,000 CO-OP ATMs nationwide,” notes Matthews.

Later in 2013, Matthews says the credit union will go through a core system conversion.  This change will mean that the credit union will be able to offer bill pay, mobile phone banking, and an ARU (audio response unit) service that will allow members to call in to check their account balances.

In 2014, Matthews says the credit union plans to move their debit card to “real time” services. And in 2015, Southland FCU expects to become part of the nationwide credit union shared branching network. 

With a lot of changes in store, Matthews says one thing will never change – their commitment to the membership.

“We will continue to offer our members competitive savings and loan rates and good quality member services from our knowledgeable, friendly staff,” says Matthews. “People helping people isn’t just a slogan for us - it’s our value in everything we do.”