Cowlitz Credit Union Announces Plans to Merge Into Red Canoe Credit Union

“We have always shared a kinship with Cowlitz Credit Union, and we’re more than happy to have them join our family.”
– David Spaulding, president/CEO of Red Canoe Credit Union

Cowlitz Credit Union announced today that it will merge its operations into Red Canoe Credit Union later this year, creating a Longview-based financial institution with nine branches, more than 59,500 members and total assets of more than $627 million.

The consolidation is expected to be completed before the end of the summer.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with new regulations and the fast-paced technological developments in our industry,” says Larry Anderson, chairman of the board at Cowlitz. “The board unanimously agreed that turning back to an old friend made the best sense for our membership.”

Cowlitz Credit Union was established in 1957 as Cowlitz County Employees Credit Union. During its early days, the credit union was managed by Red Canoe (then known as Weyerhaeuser Credit Union), although the two credit unions kept their assets separate. As Cowlitz grew, it hired its own CEO to oversee operations, but Red Canoe “has always been a strong local partner and friend,” Anderson says.

In a letter to Cowlitz members, Anderson says that growth at the credit union has remained “fairly flat,” and that its ability to keep pace with the ever-changing regulatory and technological environments has been challenging.

“The consolidation of assets will result in more-efficient operations and capital management, which is a better use of our members’ money,” Anderson says. “Plus, we will be able to offer a wider array of products and services, including technology conveniences that can be cost-prohibitive for smaller credit unions to offer. Overall, this is a win-win for both credit unions.”

David Spaulding, Red Canoe’s president and CEO, will retain those titles after the consolidation and says that all 15 Cowlitz employees will keep their jobs. Cowlitz also will keep one seat on Red Canoe’s board of directors.

“We are excited for the opportunity to serve the Cowlitz Credit Union membership,” Spaulding says. “The burden of heavy Wall Street reform and regulation has had an unintended impact on Main Street financial institutions. It comes with the hard cost of employee time and capital resources. It makes good sense for our organizations to come together to better serve both of our memberships as one financial cooperative.”

An intent-to-merge application currently is being processed by the state Department of Financial Institutions. Following regulatory approval, Cowlitz members will vote on the proposed merger. That vote is expected sometime this spring, according to Amy Davis, Red Canoe’s vice president of marketing, and the consolidation should be complete by September.

With more than 4,500 members and assets of more than $42 million, Cowlitz Credit Union is open to anyone who lives or works in Cowlitz County or is employed by any qualified school district in Washington. Red Canoe Credit Union serves more than 55,000 members who live, work or worship in Washington; the $585-million credit union operates branches in Longview, Kelso, Castle Rock, Federal Way and Puyallup, Wash., and in Albany, Ore.

“We have always shared a kinship with Cowlitz Credit Union,” Spaulding says, “and we’re more than happy to have them join our family.”

 

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

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