“We attract individuals who are interested in a financial institution that has retained that small town friendly service.”
~ Lisa Briggs, CEO, Geauga Credit Union
I would venture to say that most of us are more familiar with banks as a place to house our money safely than we are with a credit union. In fact, I have to admit that I knew virtually nothing about credit unions until researching for this feature. And I bet there are many others who would have to admit the same. Learning about what the Geauga Credit Union (GCU) has to offer has been a very eye-opening experience for me and I think it will be for you as well.
Number one: GCU is not affiliated with any labor unions!
Now that we have severed all thoughts of that idea, let’s learn about what credit unions really are, especially our local one.
Members Own a Credit Union
A credit union is a member-owned financial cooperative. These institutions are created and operated by its members, and profits are shared among the owners.
Back in 1956, Geauga Credit Union started as Geauga School Employees’ Credit Union. Now, anyone who lives or works in Geauga County can become a member with a minimal $5.00 deposit and take advantage of all of the services. Once a member, always a member, as long as that $5.00 minimum is maintained.
GCU is a state-chartered, federally insured credit union. “We must adhere to all federal and state regulations,” Lisa explains. “We are examined by both state and federal auditors. In addition, we contract an independent CPA firm who audits GCU monthly and performs a year end opinion audit.”
Whereas banks are either closely held corporations and/or have shareholders which may sell stock on the market to attract capital, there are no stockholders at a credit union – so they cannot be sold!
According to their website, “We have never participated in sub-prime lending which leaves us strong, safe and sound. We are well capitalized and ready to lend money at reasonable rates to our members. We are federally insured. Your deposits, up to $250,000, are federally insured through NCUA, National Credit Union Association. We follow the Credit Union Philosophy: Not for Profit, Not for Charity, But for Service.”
“Geauga Credit Union members elect our Board of Directors,” says Lisa. “Our directors are all local and serve without earning any compensation. We are always looking for interested individuals. All our employees are from Geauga, Trumbull, and Portage counties. Geauga Credit Union strives to offer financial services to all members, not just individuals with excellent credit scores.”
Geauga Credit Union is a non-profit business operating as a 501c(14) corporation.
“We offer competitive rates and other benefits such as no origination fees on loans or a penalty for paying off a loan early,” explains Al Wargo, Senior Loan Officer. “We incur many of the same expenses as local banks. Because our field of membership is limited to those who live or work in Geauga County, we operate on very thin margins.
“Interest earned on loans is our primary source of income. We also earn income from our investments and through various program fees. Net income is usually very low. We reinvest this back into our business and reserve a portion for our capital reserve requirement.”
Any money earned pays for normal business expenditures with some set aside for the support of community events.
GCU is Community Oriented
The Geauga Credit Union is a close-knit staff of nine employees who live in the community and whose children attend local schools. They are involved in the Great Geauga County Fair, 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Geauga Fair Housing Commission, among other community projects. Whether it is collecting for the local food pantries or helping Geauga Job and Family Services ensure foster children have a great Christmas, community outreach has always been important. They also collect old cell phones to help purchase phone cards for our soldiers.
- online banking
- bill pay services
- e-statements option
- different levels of checking (share draft) accounts depending on the member’s need
- VISA credit card program
- student savings accounts
They welcome the opportunity to work with schools at the elementary level to promote savings through their Saving for the Future program. Staff is ready and willing to help members navigate through all these services.
Help for Small Businesses
“We recently started to offer commercial loans to smaller businesses that the bigger banks may not be able to service,” says Al. “We would like to expand into other products for businesses in the future. We have staff that can visit a business owner to discuss their needs. In addition, we can visit their employees at their workplace and discuss what GCU has to offer. We can offer payroll deduction to their employees as a means to build savings as well as paying a loan or setting up a club account. This can be done with hardly any cost to the business owner.”
GCU Small Town “Exclusives”
When GCU speaks of small town friendly service, they mean it!
“On July 3  we did a meet and greet event so the community could stop in and find out what GCU has to offer,” shares Tabitha Weatherholt, Marketing Manager. “We shared free hot dogs and burgers to anyone who stopped by to say hello! We also contacted local businesses and set out their flyers to help promote their business. We will do spur of the moment “member appreciation” days throughout the year. We also offer accounts to the local PTO’s, 4-H Clubs, and Girl Scout Troops with little or no fees.”
Everyone loves choices! Learning about what the Geauga Credit Union is and what they have to offer their members has now expanded your field of choices. If any of this information has piqued your interest, give them a call. They would love to sit down and talk to you about starting your personal account and can even provide a Switch Kit to make the transfer easy.
And if you are a local small business owner, or looking into starting one, you already know and believe in the value of supporting local establishments! It would be well worth your while to have a chat with one of their staff! Give them a call today.
Geauga Credit Union, Inc.
14499 N. Cheshire Street
We want to be your Credit Union.
Become a Member. Experience the Difference!
For more information on joining as an individual or to sign up your company,
please call Sue Fisher, Business Development, at (440) 834-4327 x108.