While expanding into underserved communities.
Started by a handful of teachers in 1934, STCU has reached a milestone of 250,000 members from all walks of life and in all 50 states.
[july 21, 2022]
“Growth is vital to meeting the needs of members, keeping up with technology, providing staff opportunities, and being a pillar of support in the community,” said Ezra Eckhardt, President and CEO. “We are particularly happy to serve a growing number of rural Inland Northwest communities that might otherwise lose access to a local financial institution.”
While 85 percent of STCU members live in Spokane and Kootenai counties, geographic expansion within Eastern Washington and North Idaho has been a significant tool in the credit union’s growth, and to its mission of being “here for good” in the community. Since 2019, STCU has acquired branches in nine small communities where other financial institutions were departing: Medical Lake, Ritzville, Othello, Coulee City, Coulee Dam, Creston, Omak, Brewster and Republic.
Just last month, a similar acquisition from Banner Bank gave STCU its first three branches in Stevens County, which was already home to 4,300 STCU members. Also included was a Hayden location that is STCU’s sixth Kootenai County branch. In all, about 9,000 Banner clients became STCU members.
Geographic expansion is a vital growth strategy given STCU’s already strong presence in Spokane County. STCU’s share of the Spokane market increased from 25.9 percent of households in 2011 to 45.8 percent last year.
“Our focus remains steadfast around serving our communities.”
While STCU will continue to welcome each new member in Spokane County, that strong market share leaves little room for additional membership growth. Therefore, STCU is focused on deepening its relationship with current members everywhere, while adding new members outside Spokane County.
Mergers and acquisitions are an efficient way to provide a physical presence and gain a ready-made membership base in far-flung communities, Eckhardt said. STCU will continue to seek those opportunities in Washington and Idaho within a 200-mile radius of Spokane, he added.
Why growth matters.
Its strong growth has allowed STCU to offer a wide array of products and services, and launch initiatives to keep pace with members’ high expectations for service to members and the community.
That includes a “One STCU” initiative to ensure that members experience the same high level of service, whether they’re met in person, through digital tools, or through the credit union’s local contact center. In addition, STCU has significantly expanded its Business and Commercial Services capabilities, its real estate team, and its digital access to accounts.
In recent years, STCU has added a continuous improvement team, which leads efforts to identify and correct inefficiencies and service gaps, all in an effort to improve member service. STCU’s HR team has been expanded to include a compensation analyst to ensure consistency and competitiveness for the credit union’s total compensation package.
The credit union’s community relations team has gone digital with many of its free financial education workshops and classroom tools, and is now reaching more consumers than ever before.
“Our focus remains steadfast around serving our communities,” Eckhardt said. “We want to meet each of our 250,000 members where they want to be met, while maintaining their trust, listening to their needs, and helping meet their challenges with great products and service.”
Founded in 1934, STCU is a not-for-profit cooperative with $5 billion in assets and a quarter-million members. Nearly 900 STCU employees enjoy competitive salaries, generous benefits, tuition reimbursement and leadership training opportunities at all levels.