A lot can change in a few decades. In fact, at NavyArmy Community CU, a lot can change in just the course of a day. On average, the credit unions says they are welcoming almost 1,500 new members each month. And with every new face comes new and exciting challenges for this homegrown success story that opened its doors in 1955.
Originally created to serve only Navy personnel, the credit union opened its membership to the public in 2003 and has since grown an incredible 187 percent to reach 118,000 members. They have become one of the top 10 fastest growing credit unions in the country and number two in overall performance.
This credit union has come a long way from the days when it was strictly open to the military. But those military roots are evident in their commitment to serving the public and of course their name. You even get hints of their past in their forward moving blue and yellow chevron design which has become so recognizable throughout South Texas. NavyArmy now has 12 branches covering the State from Beeville to McAllen and is the largest financial institution in the counties served.
Ask the new NavyArmy President & CEO Sarah O’Brien why they have seen such impressive growth, and she says, “Simple, it’s our people and our culture.”
“NavyArmy has a history of serving their members, their employees, and their community. And we do it with very little fanfare letting the results and strong customer loyalty does most of the talking,” she adds.
As a not-for-profit cooperative, NavyArmy, like all credit unions, belongs to the people who use it. Member-owners share equally in the control of their cooperatives. That’s the spirit and philosophy in which NavyArmy has prospered. In a time when banks have burdened customers with rules, regulations, fees and indifference, NavyArmy has stayed true to the cooperative values. According to O’Brien, every loan is decided by the local branch representative, not by a computerized decision engine, as is the norm. NavyArmy now finances one of every three vehicles on the road in the Coastal Bend.
Worth noting, NavyArmy returned $3.1 million in bonus dividends to members in 2012 and has the highest CD rates and lowest loan rates in the Coastal Bend.
“This customer-centric, cooperative model has proven to be the right thing at the right time for over 100,000 everyday folk who want an honest financial partner,” continues O’Brien.
NavyArmy’s reputation and investment in the communities they serve establishes them as leaders in those communities. As a consumer based organization they feel it is very important to be an excellent corporate citizen with donations and also volunteer man-hours. In 2012 staff members volunteered over 2,774 hours, directed primarily to children’s health, education and welfare. They also donated over $350,000 to these causes. Organizations such as the Texas State Aquarium, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, March of Dimes, American Heart Association and many others derive valuable support from NavyArmy.
NavyArmy employs over 300 people across South Texas and is proud to have a culture of promoting from within. In fact, 70 percent of their managers began as a teller or service representative. That’s why the top leadership team has an average of 21 years of experience with NavyArmy. The credit union knows that staff is vital to their success and stress excellent and friendly customer service. To ensure this excellent service, NavyArmy has a robust training program using in-house webinars, online tools, consultants and conferences. And a unique in-house leadership and management program paves the way for success within the organization. They have created a fun, energetic and positive work environment which is why they were named one of the Best Places to Work for five years in a row.
Planning for the Future
NavyArmy’s steady growth has fueled the construction of the credit union’s new headquarters located in South Corpus Christi signaling their commitment to South Texas. The new building is the single largest office building to be built in Corpus Christi in 20 years. It has a capacity for up to 160 employees and will help consolidate all administration roles under one roof to ensure efficiency for today and provide room for continued growth tomorrow.
The new J. Wayne Vann Administration Building, named after NavyArmy’s former president who retired June 30, 2013 after 25 years, is breathtaking, in its modern design and for the sheer size of the building. Built to “LEED-inspired” guidelines, it maximizes energy efficient practices in design and construction. But, while impressive, this building is anything but lavish or over the top. It is built for work. Every square foot has been designed with efficiency and service in mind.
As construction comes to an end, a new chapter begins in the NavyArmy success story.