Consolidated Community CU’s New Branches, Technology Enhance Member and Employee Experience

Consolidated Community’s new “café branch” in Northwest Portland.

Step into Consolidated Community Credit Union’s newly remodeled branch on Sandy Blvd. in Portland and you’ll swear you’re in a place too hip to be, well, a financial institution. But this is 2016, and in case you haven’t heard yet, credit unions are hip, especially this one.

You’ll see a terrific example of transparency on a large flat screen where the $194 million-asset sized, 13,559 member credit union’s financials are displayed in all their glory. There are touch screens where members can order electronic brochures, sumptuous flooring and a staff that’s clearly proud of the place. 

There’s also a swag store where Consolidated sells its “gear” including hoodies, backwards hats (if you don’t understand this term, tell no one), water bottles and logoed growlers. All of the proceeds of gear sales will be donated to Credit Unions for Kids, according to Larry Ellifritz, the credit union’s youthful CEO.

Emerging from the recession in sound financial shape, the credit union found itself with an antiquated headquarters and branch in a shared space where there’d been no improvements in 40 years.

“Not real impressive,” Ellifritz said.

Not so anymore. Consolidated’s recent conversion to a community charter was another invitation for change, so in 18 short months, Consolidated remodeled the Sandy Blvd. branch, relocated its Northwest Portland branch to open a “café style branch” and opened a new branch and admin facility in the Lloyd District.

While exquisitely modernized for staff efficiencies, the building maintains some of its original industrial features. The employee break room looks like the HGTV dream kitchen, but make no mistake, all of this work was done on a budget.

“We wanted to be thrifty with members’ money,” Ellifritz stressed. “So it’s not opulent. We really shopped hard and tried to be smart, and spent money where it really mattered.”

Larry Ellifritz, CEO of Consolidated Community CU.

Where it mattered was a new and efficient workspace for the credit union’s 52 employees, and the ability to offer best in class services to the members. For example, each branch will have a mortgage loan officer on site.

“I realized right away we need to be good at certain things. At 200 million, we’re not going to be good at all things, but you know, try to have really good facilities, technology, and then be good at commercial loans and mortgages.”

While opening and remodeling branches, Consolidated Community CU also took on a new website design, and just last week rolled out a suite of online and mobile banking services for their members.

“Are we done yet?” might be a question from the less intrepid, but there is one more branch in the works. In an important nod to its original trucking industry field of membership, Consolidated will finally open a branch at Daimler Trucks’ flagship offices on Swan Island by year’s end.

What else is coming?

“We need to get through this year and take a breath,” said Ellifritz who is grateful to the staff and members for partnering in the credit union’s transformation.

Visit the NWCUA Facebook photo album for a virtual tour of Consolidated Community Credit Union’s new digs.

Questions about this story? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225, lheider@nwcua.org.

Posted in Article Post.