Two Washington Credit Unions Merge to Better Serve Members in the Future While Honoring the Past


Two Washington credit unions have merged to enhance services to members of both credit unions, while maintaining their individual names and legacy. Generations Credit Union has merged into Community 1st Credit Union, forming a new credit union with six branches, over 13,000 members, and more than $148 million in assets. Community 1st President and CEO, Bill Paulen, who is leading the newly formed credit union, described the merger’s nontraditional approach.

“The Generations name and legacy will continue; Generations will operate and serve its members as a division of Community 1st,” said Paulen. “We felt that this approach is a great alternative to the traditional merger model where a small credit union merges with a much larger credit union and slowly fades away into history.”

Paulen previously served as the CEO of Generations from 2014 to 2017, and recognized the importance of keeping its history and legacy alive.

“We’ll continue its commitment to member service, community involvement, college tuition scholarships, and special events with the original field of membership – all of the things that made Generations what it is,” said Paulen.

The biggest challenge the new Community 1st faces is the same challenge all credit unions face – competition for financial services that grows more intense with time. As the delivery of financial services becomes increasingly digital, Paulen sees technology as the solution.

“We have multiple projects underway to strengthen our digital delivery channels to complement our brick and mortar presence,” said Paulen. “It’s an exciting time to be working in the financial institution world.”

All former employees of Generations were offered jobs at Community 1st. The Board of Directors is comprised of 11 members, with four board members from Generations and seven from Community 1st. Additional plans include an updated Olympia branch with drive-through service.

The credit unions are also able to offer an expanded selection of products and services through the newly formed organization. The merger allows former Generations members to have access to more traditional products, such as mortgages, home equity loans and lines of credit, while Community 1st members can now access specialty loans, such as solar and HVAC loans.

In addition, the credit unions’ combined financial power will allow the organization to bring in new technology and continue developing innovative products to its membership. An updated marketing and branding strategy reflective of the combined memberships is also planned.

“As we approach the future, we must remember our past,” said Paulen. “While both credit unions expanded to statewide charters years ago, we are reinvigorating the relationships with the original sponsors that formed the credit unions in the first place.”

Community 1st was established in 1925 and was the first credit union of Washington state, created to serve Postal workers. Generations was founded in 1939 and was created to serve the Employment Security Department of Washington state.

Posted in Around the NW.