Red Wing Credit Union working to help community thrive
At first glance, the lobby of the Red Wing Credit Union looks like a tornado hit it — flooring is torn up, ceiling tiles are gone, gaping holes rip through several walls.
However, it is not the scene of a disaster, but a sign of success.
"Things have been going well for a number of years," said CEO and president Aaron DeJong. "This summer we were at 100 percent capacity. We needed to add people and had no place to put them."
The renovation, which started in November and should be finished in April, includes new roofing, new HVAC, new and restructured office space, and a redesigned lobby.
"We have been adding staff, and adding services as we need to," DeJong said. "It has been nice, steady growth."
Steady growth is a welcome situation, DeJong said, and he identified some reasons for it.
"We are a local financial institution," he said. "When people want to talk to somebody that is a decision maker and get to somebody that can help them, this is us. We are right here in town. Many of our staff have been here for years, and customers know they can trust those people."
The credit union, which now has 7900 members, opened for business in 1954 as the Red Wing Shoe Employees Credit Union. Members had to be employees of Red Wing Shoes, but now, anyone can have an account.
DeJong said there is an important difference between a bank and a credit union: ownership. Banks are owned by stockholders, he explained, and people can own stock in a bank without having an account there.
"Our ownership structure is different," he said. "Every one of our members is an owner. That's why we call our ownership a share account. That is their voting rights in our organization. When we look at how to price things like fees and rates, we do that based on serving our owners who are our members."
Red Wing Credit Union recently won the Chamber of Commerce Business of The Year Award in the Employment Service, Financial, Insurance, Legal, and Real Estate category.
"We are very proud of that," DeJong said. "This is the third year in a row that we have won that. I give all the credit for that to the people who work with our customers every day. It's humbling to win this, yet there is a great deal of pride, because I know with what they do every day, they earn it."
Developments in banking technology in recent years have helped move Red Wing Credit Union forward.
"There are very few things that a big bank offers from a technology standpoint that we can't do," DeJong said. "The technology really levels the playing field for us."
DeJong said Red Wing Credit Union is constantly looking at new ways to help people with personal loans, auto loans, commercial and business services and other opportunities.
"We want to help the local community grow and thrive," he said.