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Tell Our Story: C-E Federal Credit Union Celebrates 75 Years
Monday, March 16, 2015 7:00 AM

Tell Our StoryC-E FCU

Back in 1940, Emsco Derrick and Equipment Company was an oil-industry supply business in Houston. When its employees learned that with a cooperative financial they could have a place to save for their future and make small personal loans when needed, they set about to make it happen.

On April 30, 1940, they received a federal charter for the Emsco Houston Employees Federal Credit Union. Out of 150 employees, nine were charter members. Minimum membership deposits were $0.25, and personal loans were available up to $25. Apparently loans were a brisk business, because the treasurer occasionally had to ask 3-5 "wealthy" members to make large deposits so that they could approve loans. 

In 1957, the credit union changed its name to Continental Emsco Federal Credit Union to allow membership eligibility to all Houston area employees, not just employees of the plant in southeast Houston. In later years, the name was changed again to C-E Federal Credit Union.

C-E FCU Groundbreaking
1978 groundbreaking for a new C-E FCU office building. Pictured are directors and the credit union manager (holding shovel). Gentleman on the far right is Elbert Palmer, who gave 48 years of service to the credit union.

Located in the south Texas oil region, C-E FCU's success, its managers discovered, would depend greatly on the economic success of the oil industry. The slump of the late 1970s and early 1980s demonstrated that diversity in their field of membership would be key to the credit union's survival. So they expanded their charter to include other companies and moved the C-E plant site to a neutral location where all the select employer group members had easy access to the credit union.

The economic struggles of the '80s helped motivate the credit union leaders to expand their membership into still new areas, such as the hotel and restaurant industries, construction, a Houston auto auction, fresh produce supply companies, and others. As they expanded their field of membership, their assets grew along with the services they offered.

C-E FCU SignageOver 75 years, the credit union evolved from the old 6/12 structure for dividends and loans to their current aggressive, risk-based lending and market-based deposit rates with a full array of services like checking, IRAs, share certificates, debit cards, credit cards, courtesy pay, online banking, bill pay, ACH and ACHO, account aggregation, and nearly every consumer loan type in-house, except real estate.

Currently averaging $16.5 million in assets, C-E FCU serves the financial needs of more than 3,700 members spread all over the globe. They manage that worldwide membership through the technological avenues of email, fax, the Internet, and their core processor's online products.

C-E FCU Office Building
Current office building for C-E FCU in Houston, Texas.

Mark Wright has been president and CEO of C-E FCU for 15 years. He says it was Elbert Palmer who hired him. Palmer is pictured in the 1978 groundbreaking photo here, far right in the leisure suit. Palmer passed away on Dec. 7, 2014, at the age of 93, after serving in every position on the board and various committees for 48 years.

"He was a huge driving force. An amazing man who lived and breathed service for his fellow man—first in his church, and second in the credit union," Wright said. "He served continuously as board chairman from the late '80s until 2008, when he had to give it all up for health reasons. He was a wonderful man, hired me here, nurtured me as a father/mentor would, and gave me this fantastic opportunity to serve here." 

Today, C-E Federal Credit Union operates only a half mile down the road from the original C-E plant, where the office has been since 1979.

"For 75 years," Wright said, "C-E Federal Credit Union has served its members with pride and compassion; stayed strong in the face of adversities; and continues to be a financial resource for our members."