Jake Blues (played by John Belushi in the 1980 classic movie “The Blues Brothers”) was covered in mud after a burst of gunfire from his former fiancée (played by the late Carrie Fisher) while he was trying to explain to her why he left her at the altar.
“I ran out of gas. I got a flat tire. I didn’t have change for cab fare. I lost my tux at the cleaners. I locked my keys in the car. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT!…”
Sometimes, we look for excuses or scapegoats when things do not go our way. Since our charter conversion and name change two years ago, a few of our members would say after not getting the answer they wanted, “Service was better before 1st Nor Cal took over our Credit Union.”
As we explained in numerous communications to our members before, during, and after the conversion that we were not taken over by a larger credit union or some out of town corporate entity in which we know neither their names nor faces. If that were the case, the Board of Directors would have been replaced, and I certainly would no longer be here. Most of the staff would have been paid a small incentive to leave or laid off altogether.
Nevertheless, here we are, two years later. The Board is intact, and I am still the President and CEO. All of our staff stayed, save a few subsequent terminations, which is normal for any business. In fact, I am very proud of the fact that even in my 26th year at Contra Costa/1st Nor Cal, there are still eight staff members who have more seniority than I. That is highly unusual and almost unheard of for an organization of our size. The low turnover rate is a testament to the high quality and loyalty of our staff. It also means members are being serviced by the same people as before the name change.
We made it a point to keep everything as much the same as possible, but change, which few people like, is necessary. We changed our name to be attractive to our members’ neighbors and local companies they do business with in Solano and Alameda Counties. Later this year, we will be closing our Pittsburg branch, which we inherited after acquiring the Pittsburg Employees Federal Credit Union, because members complained the lobby was too small and our Antioch branch because the members complained the surrounding neighborhood has changed for the worse. In its place, we are constructing a larger branch at the Century Plaza Shopping Center right next to Target on the Pittsburg/Antioch border that will more than accommodate members visiting the two current offices.
There will be other changes as well. We are looking at an office in Brentwood that is slated to be our first “1st Nor Cal Express” that will have most of the same services as the other branches. These smaller outlets will allow us to build more physical presence in the three-county East Bay Area.
One thing that has not changed since the Credit Union was founded in 1949 is our superior member service. We do everything we can to give members the financial services they need but admit we do not make every member happy all of the time. However, we promise to try to find a suitable solution to enhance our members’ financial lives. We also promise no locusts.