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Tell Our Story: Caprock Federal Credit Union
Friday, April 10, 2015 6:45 AM

Tell Our StoryCaprock FCU

Caprock FCU at 2015 Annual Meeting
Caprock Federal Credit Union Annual Meeting 2015. Back row: Marcus Davis, Amanda Barrera, Hanna Dimas, Gloria Resendez, Jazmine Olivas, and Dale Hansard. Front row: Teresa Uresti, Cynthia Vela, Brittany Lovington, Trish Rose, and Jill Hernandez. Not Pictured: Thelma Perez, Linda Scott, and Nora Juarez.

Back in the sixties, the Dawson County public employees came together under a common bond that included county employees and elected officials. All members were employed by the City of Lamesa, the Lamesa Fire Department, Lamesa ISD, Dawson County, and the State of Texas in Dawson County.

On May 5, 2965, with 42 members and $470 in total deposits, those public employees formed Caprock Federal Credit Union in Lamesa, Texas. This year, Caprock Federal Credit Union is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

James McCallister was one of the earliest members and an employee at City Hall. Current Caprock Federal Credit Union CEO/President Dale Hansard, Jr. said, "The credit union was so small in the beginning that McCallister would simply flip a placard on the front door that said 'CU open at 3:00.' Then right at 3:00, all the city employees would show up to apply for loans. They operated literally out of a desk drawer at City Hall."

The credit union remained small and informal for 23 years, relocating from City Hall to a new office in 1979 and a second time in 1986. Then in 1989, Caprock expanded to include Medical Arts Hospital Employees; and over the following 18 years, the credit union welcomed 55 new select employee groups.

Caprock FCU Linda Scott and Blaine Middleton
Caprock FCU employee Linda Scott and her brother Blaine Middleton enjoying the Capstone Annual Meeting.

"We were always about helping members," Hansard said. "The neatest thing about us is our cohesiveness and what we're willing to do for our members. We like getting everybody in the office on the same page about how we can work to better our member's lives."

But Hansard thinks maybe the credit union helped some of their members too much. "Back then, the credit union made a lot of loans and lost a lot of money. They didn't suffer the charge-offs though because we eventually recovered the monies through diligent collection efforts. The members didn't take their obligations to the credit union seriously. We had to change that mindset."

When Hansard came aboard in 2006, the credit union was falling apart, primarily due to a lack of leadership. It wasn't that they didn't care; they did. But the board was fragmented and had considered merging into another credit union.

"The vision was always there," Hansard said. "It just wasn't being executed well. They knew they had to reorganize and look at new strategies for success."

Henry Land, who had been Caprock's chairman since 1991, led the board to completely refocus on solutions and credit union philosophies.

Hansard recalled one story where the board met with one of the members who complained about being denied a loan. He had demanded to see the board because of it. The member had terrible credit, but he told them, "I always pay the credit union. I just don't pay anything else."

Caprock FCU Board Members
 

The board considered his request but stood firm on the larger philosophy of contributing to their members' well-made financial decisions. They knew if they were going to reach into the community and expand into community charters, they also needed to be about teaching people financial responsibility. Hansard said, "We always look out for the good of the member, not just in giving the easy answer."

The member they turned down for a loan is still a credit union member, and he's in much better financial shape as a result.

Today, that same sense of community and financial responsibility is the board's backbone. They want to be a partner in the member's financial success while remaining financially strong as well. Sometimes that means having hard conversations with members and advising them to move in healthier directions toward long-term solutions.

In the last 50 years, Caprock Federal Credit Union has gone from those initial 42 members to about 3,420. When they regrouped in 2006, they started with $10 million in assets. In 2015, they've tripled that and show about $30 million in assets.

Hansard notes that the credit union has been through a lot but has remained resilient and come out on top. "We're in the middle of rural west Texas," he said. "If we don't take care of ourselves, nobody else will."