558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Mid Oregon Credit Union celebrates 55 years of service
Mid Oregon?Credit Union began in Prineville and now serves more than 21,000 members
Prineville Mid Oregon Credit Union staff, left to right: Jenny Sherman, Kaity French, and Meagan Kelly.
November 26, 2012
Earlier this month, Mid Oregon Credit Union celebrated 55 years of helping members with their financial needs and goals.
Now with over 21,000 members and five branches in Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes counties, the institution maintains its original charter as a full-service, member-owned financial cooperative.
But few know that the credit union’s birth was actually right here in Prineville.
The original “organizational certificate,” which hangs on the wall in the Prineville branch, dates back to 1957 and lists eight founding members of the “Tri-County Teachers Federal Credit Union.” The name was changed in 1961 to Mid Oregon Federal Credit Union and more recently to Mid Oregon Credit Union.
The founding members included Harry Steingraber, Mary Howden, Malcolm Browning, James Browning, Marguerite Boyce, Jay Heaney, Gaylord Kampa, and Olen Shroyer. Six lived in Prineville, the other two in Paulina and Ochoco Lake.
Each paid five dollars and received one share, becoming an owner, in the credit union.
“It was five dollars to join in 1957 and it’s still five dollars today. The money is deposited right into your account,” said Kyle Frick, Vice President of Marketing and Community Involvement.
The 1957 charter limited members to “those having the common bond of being employees of the public schools or employees of the credit union.”
While the credit union’s core membership remains teachers, employees of the school districts including Central Oregon Community College, and government workers, it’s also open to “persons who live, worship, work, attend school, work for a business, or are a legal entity in Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes counties.”
It’s this all-encompassing membership philosophy, combined with diversified risk management that kept Mid Oregon growing throughout the “great recession.”
“There were credit unions that failed for the same reasons that banks did, their risk management was not adequately diversified, and the simple answer is that we didn’t invest in speculation — we weren’t out being land developers, because that isn’t our mission,” said Frick.
Mid Oregon has benefited from bank customers switching to credit unions.
“We’ve been growing significantly over the past few years, in part due to people that have moved away from banks to credit unions,” added Frick.
Mid Oregon was not unaffected by the “great recession” however.
“We were impacted as well. We had members that got hurt in the recession,” said Frick.
Credit unions are different than banks in that each member is a shareholder — one member one vote — and the members have the power to direct policy through their Board of Directors. This is different than for-profit public companies (most banks) whose stockholders vote according to the number of shares of stock they own.
Credit unions also emphasize customer service and community involvement over the pursuit of profits.
Kaity French, Member Service Specialist and Team Leader at the Prineville branch, believes that their recent growth is due in part to personalized service and trust.
“People are looking for someone they can call and talk to, especially someone they know. I hear a lot of new members say things like ‘I called my bank and I can’t talk with anyone, certainly not anyone that I know.’”
French’s team values their relationships with members.
“Here in Prineville, members get very attached to their loan officer or teller. I’ll frequently hear people say that they really like dealing with the same person each time they contact us.”
Perhaps another reason Mid Oregon Credit Union has grown steadily is local community involvement.
The Prineville branch sponsors the Stick Horse Races at the Crooked River Round Up, the Picnic in the Park free concert series each summer, and regularly sponsors financial seminars for the community.
In fact, a free workshop on Identity Theft will be held at the Prineville branch on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 6 p.m.
For Mid Oregon Credit Union, it all comes down to relationships — both among the employees and with their members.
“I love that I can make a phone call and talk directly with our President, Bill Anderson. It’s like a second family here at Mid Oregon,” said six-year employee Katie French.
Kyle Frick attributes Mid Oregon’s success to hiring the right people.
“One of the things we measure is our employee turnover, and it’s very low. We have a pretty stringent hiring and training process, so we tend to find the right people.”
With about 60 employees in five branches, Mid Oregon is on course for continued growth and expansion. Plans include more branches, but details are not yet available.
Reflecting on Mid Oregon’s consistent performance, Kyle Frick said, “We’ve been here just doing our job all these years.”