Stearns Street Building Expansion Project 2015

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President & CEO
Scott A. Wilson on the Expansion Project

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MASSENA - SeaComm Federal Credit Union customers will get their first look at the organization’s expansion and renovation on Jan. 5.

President and CEO Scott A. Wilson said they’ll hold a “soft opening” that day, but will have a full grand opening on June 6 when they celebrate their Charter Day.

Mr. Wilson said it’s an exciting time for customers and credit union employees as they prepare to move forward with their new headquarters and its amenities.

Walking into the lobby, customers will be greeted by a receptionist, who will guide them to their destination, whether it’s to see Mr. Wilson or to meet with a member of any of the departments.

As they enter the building, Mr. Wilson said they’ll likely notice design enhancements that correlate to the wave on the SeaComm logo. Accent lighting also accentuates the design of the floor.

“There are lots of curves (in the design). We worked a little bit of a wave into the flooring and bulklhead to give it a sense of continuity with the branch,” he said.

A “Refresh Area” nearby will have coffee available for customers.

“It’s about relaxing and feeling like you’re part of SeaComm. Member service satisfaction is extremely important. We want to exceed members’ expectations for service,” Mr. Wilson said.

The first floor will be staffed by representatives that customers will be working with, such as member lending, card services, collections and tellers. The tellers will be using the latest in technology to increase the efficiency of the teller line - two cash recycler machines that will have the ability to count cash and record it.

That same feature will be found on an indoor ATM machine that will be located just inside the entrance and will be operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This is real time. They put cash in, it counts it and deposits it,” Mr. Wilson said.

The ATM machine also features a function that allows it to scan checks, he said.

The outdoor ATM will be relocated to the lane closest to the building on Monday. It will be inaccessible for most of the day on Monday for the relocation, and customers are asked to use the lobby ATM that day. The lobby ATM will be inaccessible Jan. 3 as it’s moved to the new branch, and customers are asked to use the ATM located in the drive-through lane that day.

A night drop capability, which can also be done at 79 Main St., will be up and running at the Stearns Street headquarters on Jan. 5.

Under the new configuration, six drive-through lanes will be available, with tellers using new technology that’s already used at SeaComm’s Ogdensburg branch.

Also on the first floor is the vault area and security deposit boxes, as well as a coin machine that will be integrated back into the facility. There will also be a “mother’s room,” which will allow a mother to feed a baby in private.

The second floor will house the administrative team, such as accounting and support departments.

The revamped credit union will also feature a community room that can be used for functions such as the annual meeting and on-site programs.

“We’ve never had that in the past,” Mr. Wilson said, noting their annual meetings have always been held off-site.

He said the downtown branch will close its doors in June to consolidate all operations, including all financial services representatives and the Mortgage Department, on Stearns Street.

“Our in-branch transactions have decreased considerably. We have less volume in the branches. People are choosing to do it at their convenience,” he said. “The same level of service will be offered here. We have ample staff.”

Mr. Wilson said he has heard concerns about whether the credit union would be able to integrate their services on Stearns Street without impacting customers.

“Absolutely. We’re not reducing the number of tellers. We don’t want people to feel they’re not being serviced because we’ve expanded,” he said.

The Call Center on Andrews Street, which averages 12,500 calls a month, will move to Stearns Street in May.

The Jan. 5 opening will signal the another milestone in a process that started a couple of years ago. Phase one was the site work parking, phase two was the current work and phase three will be work on the other side of the building.

“We started the process a couple of years ago. The senior leadership team asked what we were going to look like in 10 years. The idea was for everybody to gather information,” Mr. Wilson said.

Among the areas they looked at were how many positions and how much space they would need in the years ahead, and they also compared SeaComm to credit unions of similar size.

“I came up with a plan on how much space we would need and presented it to our Board of Directors. The business has grown considerably. We haven’t had space, so we couldn’t hire,” he said.

Their 2015 budget plans for the addition of five new staff positions, according to Mr. Wilson.

“We understand where we are today is not what we’re going to look like in five years. We also wanted to ensure we would remain financially viable,” he said.

They began working with P.W. Campbell, the project manager, and told them, “This is our vision. We want it to look like the current building they’re used to,” Mr. Wilson said.

When work began, it was with an eye toward local contractors, he said.

“Approximately 90 percent of the contracts were local,” such as flooring, painting and site work, he said. “The construction company was very cognizant that we like to work with local contractors.”

In addition, new furniture was also purchased locally, at Sullivan’s Office Supply, Mr. Wilson said.

While construction was ongoing, he said employees worked in “less than optimal conditions,” such as tellers who were located in pods to handle the drive-through lanes. But, he said, they continued to perform in an excellent manner.

“The staff has been exceptional,” he said. “The Board of Directors has been extremely supportive of the whole project. They’ve been meeting in a construction trailer since June.”

And now the end is in sight.

“By the end of June, everybody will be here,” Mr. Wilson said.


AT 12:30 AM

Elizabeth Myers trains teller Kristen Campbell on a new system at SeaComm Federal Credit Union as Branch Manager Lori Wilmshurst looks on. SeaComm will hold a soft opening on Jan. 5 for its Stearns Street location, which has been under expansion and renovation.



MASSENA - Nearly a month after they received approval from the village’s Planning Board, SeaComm Federal Credit Union officials broke ground Wednesday afternoon to start the first phase of the expansion of their Stearns Street headquarters.

SeaComm President and CEO Scott A. Wilson said phase one, which will take about 30 days and will not impact regular operations at the location, will be the installation of the new employee parking area on the west end of the lot, from SeaComm’s existing garage to the property lie.

The area will be graded for new and existing parking lots to connect; additional storm structures and piping will be installed along with new light poles; and asphalt pavement and line striping will be installed during the first phase.

“We needed parking for the staff,” Mr. Wilson said.

The initial phase of work that began this week will provide a site where construction materials can be staged, as well as needed employee parking during the other phases of construction.

“Phase one doesn’t really impact members today,” he said.

The work that will most impact customers will start with phase two, which will involve a shifting of some traffic patterns and the closing of some drive-thru lanes.

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY - SeaComm Federal Credit Union held a groundbreaking ceremony for their expansion project. Pictured are, row one: Gary Fuller, Rhonda Poupore, Wayne Duso, SeaComm President and CEO Scott Wilson, SeaComm Board Chairman Myron Burns, Keith Edwards, P.W. Campbell owner Jim Campbell, Theresa Raleigh, Sherry White and Michelle Patenaude; row two: Tammy Harrigan, Steven Rusello, Patricia Dodge, Ron Smith, Dean Giordano, Brian Midock and Lori Wilmshurst.

“They (members) will come in front of the building and loop around,” Mr. Wilson said.

Phase three will involve the closing of drive-thru lanes and the tearing down of the back of the building in preparation for the construction of the new two-story facility in that location. Portable drive-thru pods will be used to continue servicing members who want to use the drive-thru service. Mr. Wilson said members will still have access to all of their services, including safety deposit boxes.

It’s necessary to tear down and build up, he said, because the original 1978 construction of that portion of the building wasn’t designed to add a second story.

“From a cost perspective, it will not cost any more to tear it down and rebuild it,” he said.

As they begin phase one, Mr. Wilson said they want to ensure customers are aware of what changes will be taking place so they can plan accordingly.

“We want to make sure we’re going to have tons of communication,” he said.

Among their efforts is a handout distributed by tellers to customers, explaining what will be taking place during each phase. The phase one handout is currently being distributed to customers.

“That’ll happen in every phase,” Mr. Wilson said. “I feel communication to our members is extremely critical. We’ll have more information than they probably want. We want them to know what’s going on.”

The credit union’s website, www.seacomm.org, also links to a page that details the work that will be taking place.

“They can clock on a highlighted space and it will pop up and tell them what’s going on,” he said.

They soon plan to have a live webcam installed on the site so visitors can view the progress in real time, and the credit union is also using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to keep members apprised of the progress on the project.

Those who want to avoid the Stearns Street location during construction can still take advantage of the 79 Main St., Massena, branch, according to Mr. Wilson.

“We will staff that appropriately for additional business,” he said.

When the work is complete, members will find five drive-thru lanes compared to the current three, and each one will have video monitoring so that, no matter what lane they’re in, members will be able to talk with the teller who is waiting on them.

“We’ll have pretty state-of-the-art technology in the new building,” Mr. Wilson said.

The project is using local laborers, according to the credit union CEO. AJK Site Development, Waddington, is working on phase one.

Other contractors include S&L Electric from Colton, which is also working with NCC Systems and RSI Roofing, Gouverneur. HVAC work is being done by Hyde Stone, which has local employees working at SeaComm. Elevator work will be done by ThyssenKrupp, which has service representatives who live and work in Potsdam.

“The board of directors certainly wanted to use as many local contractors as possible. We’ll continue to add to that list,” Mr. Wilson said.

The project’s design firm is P.W. Campbell, Pittsburgh, Pa., which is providing on-site supervision of the work.

Mr. Wilson said he was appreciative of the village Planning Board’s April approval of their 15,870-square-foot, $5.4 million expansion of their headquarters. The total space will be more than 32,000 square feet at the conclusion of the project, allowing them to consolidate their retail branch at 79 Main St. and Call Center operations.

“We’re completely out of space. We needed positions to continue to grow our business. The village Planning Board was extremely helpful. They were very supportive of the project,” he said.



SeaComm Board Chairman Myron Burns, along with President and Chief Executive Officer Scott A. Wilson, today announced plans to consolidate its Massena retail operations, expand its headquarters  and break ground on a new building for the Malone branch.  The Massena consolidation and expansion will begin early 2014, with a conclusion date of mid-2015; whereas the Malone groundbreaking will commence in early 2016.

“Our membership has grown more than 20% over the past six years; however the number of transactions at our teller line has decreased,” states President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Wilson.  “Due mainly to technology and members using direct deposit or other electronic channels offered, such as NetTeller, Mobile App, ATMs, and soon to be added Mobile Deposit Capture, the merging of our Massena locations will allow us to be more efficient; whereby we can put those resources back into additional products and services, at no cost to the membership.”

The 30 Stearns Street building will receive an additional 15,870 sq. ft. to accommodate merging of the 79 Main Street branch, Call Center and the additional staff necessary to support the expanded service offerings and regulatory requirements.  

“Today, we do not have adequate office space necessary to support future initiatives,” states Wilson. “The benefits of this option will also enable all back office operations to be in one main location assisting us with an increase in communication and decreased travel time between buildings, which will allow us to grow internal staff more efficiently along with membership growth.”

The project will take the form of a two-story addition on the back of the building with a second floor addition to continue over the existing branch, providing a full two-story building all the way around.  The renovations will consist of expanded drive-thru lanes; adding of concierge and self-serve Kiosks; moving all member related services to retail space; expanded employee parking; provision of adequate office and conference space for growth and refreshing the main building.  The merging of the Call Center on Andrews Street and closing of the downtown branch location at 79 Main Street, will take place once construction at the headquarter building has been completed.  P.W. Campbell of Pittsburgh, PA, will serve as the credit union’s building design firm.

As part of our strategic direction, the Board of Directors, in conjunction with the management team, has recognized the necessity to expand our headquarters in order to accommodate the credit union’s overall growth,” states Board Chairman Myron Burns.  “This $5.1 million project approved by the Board of Directors is a testament to our commitment to Massena and our membership by ensuring we are providing exceptional state-of-the-art services and financial products for many years to come.”    

The 79 Main Street location was purchased in 1999 from Heritage Homes, which was used at the time as an extension for the now closed Mater Dei College.  The current ATM access at the downtown location will be available through mid-2015.  Discussions continue as to the probability of its relocation to an alternate area.

“It is important to know that SeaComm is still committed to the revitalization of downtown Massena and will continue to support the mission and on-going efforts of the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce and its related activities,” says Wilson.  Continued project updates will also be available regularly on SeaComm’s website, Facebook page and Twitter.  Mr. Wilson will also make himself available to the membership on Monday, September 16, 2013 from 3:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M., and on Friday, September 20, 2013 from 11:00 A.M. to noon at the 79 Main Street Branch to discuss any questions. 

Property purchase for the Malone branch relocation was finalized in May of this year and construction will begin in 2015.  The property is a 1.4 acre lot, located on Route 11 adjacent to Mo’s Pub and Grill, and in front of The Holiday Inn Express.  SeaComm is planning to construct a 3,000 sq. ft. building.  The current SeaComm branch is located in the Price Chopper Plaza under a lease agreement through mid-2016.  “Owning our own location adds long-term value to the organization,” states Wilson.  “This new venue will give us additional visibility in a high traffic location in an ever-expanding retail area.”  Rick Maloney, Malone Branch Manager will be part of the overall planning of the new location.

SeaComm is a member owned financial cooperative based in Massena with over 40,000 members and assets of more than $470 million. The credit union has branches in Massena, Potsdam, Malone, Canton and Ogdensburg.  Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in St. Lawrence or Northern Franklin County.


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