Doug Page Takes the Helm as President/CEO of Great NorthWest Federal Credit Union

“If we treat members with respect, exceed their service expectations and provide the products and service they want, the credit union will continue to succeed into the future.” Doug Page, president/CEO of Great Northwest Federal Credit Union

It was a rare day when Doug Page felt like he was helping anyone financially.

Page had gone to work for a finance company in Spokane after graduating from Eastern Washington University. As part of a management training program – first in Spokane, then in Kennewick – he was learning all aspects of running a branch, including lending, collections, production goals and more. And he knew that the training was invaluable.

But he also knew that there had to be more. And so in 1994, he joined the team at Great NorthWest Federal Credit Union in Aberdeen.

“I was somewhat familiar with credit unions, due to having my first car loan at a credit union. However, like many members, I didn’t know what made credit unions different from other financial institutions. I only knew that they had great rates,” Page says. “Coming from a finance company, it was refreshing to me to see how credit unions have their members’ best interest in mind before profits.”

He’s been at Great NorthWest ever since. And on Jan. 1, Page became the credit union’s new president and CEO, replacing Karen Burkhalter and taking the helm of a financial institution with nearly 13,000 members and more than $113 million in assets.

As he prepared for his new role last week, Page sat down with Anthem to reflect on his nearly 20 years at Great NorthWest, and to talk about what he sees in the credit union’s future.

Q: Your degree from EWU is in finance and economics, and you’ve said that the management training you received early in your career was worth the two years you spent at the finance company. How did you put all of that together at Great NorthWest?

A: I worked on a wide variety of special projects, such as developing a merchant program and a construction lending program, creating a loan underwriting model, expanding our field of membership and deploying ATMs. In addition, I was underwriting loans and working with the collections department. I later held the positions of vice president of operations and vice president of lending before becoming executive vice president in 2002.

Q: What are your personal and professional passions outside of the office?

A: Outside of the office, you can find me in the great outdoors, usually with my wife and 2-year-old daughter. Professionally, I enjoy being a part of the credit union initiative to teach kids about using money wisely. Currently, Great NorthWest provides a “real life” budgeting simulation for several local high schools, as well as other age-specific presentations for younger kids.

Q: What are your priorities as CEO? What do you tackle first in 2014, and what are the biggest challenges you foresee?

A: I plan to pick up where Karen Burkhalter, our previous CEO, left off. There are several projects that we started in 2013 that will be completed in 2014, including a rebranding project that will give the credit union a fresh new look.

The challenges that we face are much like those at many other credit unions:  shrinking margins, an excessive compliance burden and slow loan demand.  However, we are well positioned and we will manage through.

Q: Describe the Great NorthWest of the future – where do you hope to take the credit union?

A: Great NorthWest Federal Credit Union has always done well by sticking to the basics and keeping things simple. If we treat members with respect, exceed their service expectations and provide the products and service they want, the credit union will continue to succeed into the future. We have an excellent staff that carries out this mission on a daily basis.

Q: When you look back years from now on your tenure as CEO, what do you imagine your legacy will be?

A: Our current mission statement is: “Great NorthWest FCU provides a safe and sound comprehensive range of financial services to our family of members.”  As we continue to grow and new technology is implemented, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain the “family feel” that the credit union enjoys today. So looking back on my tenure as CEO, I would like to feel that we did everything we could to make sure that our current mission statement is still relevant.  

 Questions? Contact Gary Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

Posted in Federal.