Fifty years and counting: We are still committed to our roots!
On June 6, 2013, we will be commencing with the celebration of our 50th anniversary. It is very humbling to be leading SeaComm during this momentous occasion. This milestone is a concrete way for us to look back and appreciate all of the hard work and dedication that has been accomplished since those very early days.
The story goes like this…It all started with a tool box (which is iconic for us today and can be seen in the lobbies of our branches), $50 and a shared vision of then ten Chevrolet Foundry workers, who each wanted to improve the financial lives of not only themselves, but those who they worked with. That vision is no less important today than it was back on June 6, 1963.
Earl Jackson, one of the original 10 as I like to call them, is still an active member of the Credit Union today. He reminds me when we speak about those early days, how SeaComm has become so very much more than they had ever dreamed. That is a great testament to all those who have built upon that very foundation which he and those other men believed in.
As Arthur Ashe, Jr., once said, “Success is journey and not a destination.” Today, we celebrate our 50 years of shared success. That journey is continual, as we work each and every day to improve the financial lives of our members and the communities in which we do business.
In 2010, we opened our sixth retail branch in Ogdensburg, NY, and I had remarked at that grand opening that it was the first time that a SeaComm branch was being opened without a presence of a GM plant in operation. Even though, we no longer have that physical reminder, it is no less important.
We have made a commitment through our continued actions to those who believed in the cooperative model and started this fine institution, by holding an annual Charter Day every year on the very day we were founded. This helps to solidify for us what we know is the key to our success; never forgetting our roots by continuing to fulfill our unwavering mission of taking care of our members, by doing the right thing for them every single day.
Operating a credit union is a bit more complicated than it was back in 1963. Processes were done manually and much of it based upon the honor system.
Since those humble beginnings, there have been significant changes that have emerged in how financial institutions operate, most of it due more recently to the 2008 economic downturn caused by the catastrophic failures of Wall Street banks like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. Those failures were the direct result of sub-prime mortgage products, which adversely affected the housing market and in turn the national economy. This financial crisis was the worst since the great depression. Those changes have also been driven by legislation such as Dodd-Frank and the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Although, we didn’t have any sub-prime exposure, we of course were not completely immune to broad economic pressures as a result of the downturn. Therefore, we had to be proactive in managing the balance between loan demand and share deposits and have considered it fiscally prudent to adjust our rates to keep in line with the economy.
As a result of good planning guided by our Board of Directors, solid management, talented staff and commitment of our membership, SeaComm has not only been able to withstand the economic instability, but grow during those years.
Our financial position today remains solid. Year-end assets climbed in excess of $460 million, an annual growth of more than 7% from year-end December 31, 2011. At the same time, our net operating expenses YTD were at 1.44%, well below our goal of 2.95%. We finished the year with a net income of $7.5 million, garnering us more than $56 million in total equity to-date. Capital remains a key component to our financial health as it is necessary to maintain regulatory capital ratio and adequate reserves for loan losses as our assets continue to grow. It ensures that we are able to withstand any uncertainty like we encountered during that time and be viable well into the future.
Over the past few years, we have not only been growing our membership at three percent on average, but have been recognized repeatedly for outstanding financial performance, employee engagement, as well as fulfilling our mission as a federally chartered Credit Union as honored by NAFCU in 2012.
This past fall we were honored for a third year in a row with the distinction of being given the Crystal Performance Award for Excellence by Raddon Financial Group. In a letter to us, Raddon said, “Despite challenging economic conditions, SeaComm Federal Credit Union was able to perform at the highest levels.” He added, “Outstanding performance. Congratulations to the team!” This award is based on certain performance indexes, including a balanced scorecard measurement of growth, income, efficiency and margin management. More than 500 credit unions across the country were measured for this award.
In mid-January, we received notification that we had been chosen for a third year in a row as one of the Best Companies to Work for in New York for 2013. We were in the top 10 in 2012. Our selection as one of those small to mid-sized companies was based upon a survey in which our employees were asked to participate, along with requested criteria we had to provide. A few of the focus areas included: leadership and planning, corporate culture and communication, role satisfaction, work environment and relationship with supervisor. We are extremely proud to be included within this privileged group.
Even with all that has been said about all of the successes we have enjoyed; nothing compares to what we as a credit union do for our thousands of north country members in providing a safe harbor for their savings and giving them a place to borrow when they have a need.
Therefore, we will continue to stay the course and focus on the following key priorities:
Increasing satisfaction of not only our members, but employees as well;
Continuing to strategically grow our retained earnings so that our capital keeps pace with our asset size;
Balancing our ever increasing regulatory compliance with that of service to our members; and
Making available more products and services which will improve the financial lives of our members
As we recognize our 50th anniversary and our continued mission of “people helping people” it is an incredible privilege and responsibility that our Board of Directors, management and dedicated staff has to carry on with such a rich history of continuing the journey that was started by those 10 men a half of a century later.
We are grateful to our members who have put their trust in us and we will continue to work diligently to remain strong in order to be able to serve well into the future. On behalf of the Board of Directors, management and staff, I would like to thank everyone who has made SeaComm what it is today and for allowing us to continue to serve your financial needs. We look forward to working together in 2013.
Scott A. Wilson
President & Chief Executive Officer
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