MOUNDS VIEW, Minn. - Stan Hollen is back in the credit union industry and back in the corner office. The former CEO of the $4 billion The Golden 1 CU has been named president/CEO of Liberty Enterprises. Hollen, who left The Golden 1 in January of this year, assumed the Liberty CEO position on Sept. 23. Staying in the industry was on the top of Hollen's wish list when he left The Golden 1 CU. Even though he's on the vendor side, he feels he's found a company that is truly married to credit unions. "While it is a vendor, Liberty is so unique in that it's such a credit union company. I'm not leaving the fold so to speak. Liberty's been so involved with the credit union movement and so supportive," said Hollen. In Hollen, Liberty gets one of the best known credit union CEOs in the country. Interestingly, Hollen's former CU was not a Liberty customer, and that may be one area Hollen can help Liberty, that is in attracting Top 100 CU clients. Liberty, with some 5,000 CU clients for checks, has about 74% of the credit union check printing market, yet it has less than 10% of the Top 100 CUs by assets as check clients. "One of my focuses will be to help show our value, strengths and uniqueness Liberty brings as a supplier. We're more than our core product of checks. We're different than Deluxe, different than Harland," said Hollen. Under Hollen's leadership, credit unions can expect to see Liberty get involved in more alliances and strategic partnerships. "We're going to be looking at alliances and joint ventures. At Golden 1 we put together coalitions of big credit unions and formed companies. That is similar to what can be done at Liberty." Hollen noted that Liberty is already in the plastics arena as a supplier (through a third-party vendor), and more activity in plastics could be a prime candidate for a Liberty alliance. Hollen was a sort of entrepreneur at Golden 1. Under his tenure the credit union started CU Direct, an indirect lending CUSO that has gone on to become the biggest such CUSO in the country with multiple CUs now as members. He was also a key player in forming the shared branching firm Financial Service Centers Corporation. As for growing Golden 1, under Hollen the CU went from $295 million in assets in 1984 to $4 billion in assets today. Key to that growth was getting 22 community charters in California and the ability to serve all state employees. Hollen is also a recognized guru in payments systems. He once chaired CUNA's payments systems committee and was on the renowned BITS (Banking Industry Technology Secretariat) Council. Under Hollen, The Golden 1 also turned a $150,000 investment in EFT network Star into $30 million when it was sold to Concorde EFS. Hollen said POS debit cards really started out in California, so he understands that aspect of payments systems very well. Payment systems expertise may be just what Liberty needs now as a recent Fed study, though it includes commercial accounts, shows check usage, if not declining, has stopped growing. Liberty Enterprises seems to be prepared as it has diversified over the years, getting into data processing with the acquisition of FiTECH, and online banking with the acquisition of Cavion Technologies. It also offers MCIF, Web site development, and creative marketing. For Liberty founder and chairman Dave Copham, Hollen is exactly the kind of candidate he was looking for. While Copham said he went into the search hoping to get someone from the credit union industry, his first priority was someone with CEO experience. "Until you have been there, you never know how you're going to act in the position of CEO. I was not comfortable in taking an experiment with somebody," said Copham. "We are now a premier provider for credit unions that now has a CEO from a credit union background." Copham, who founded Liberty in 1985, will continue on as chairman, and Hollen will assume a board slot as well. Up until early 1995 when Bob Anderson stepped in as Liberty's president/CEO, Copham was accustomed to being in charge of the day-to-day operations of the company. Copham admitted it wasn't easy letting go, and it became more difficult because of philosophical differences between he and Anderson, which ultimately led to Anderson's departure in September of last year. "We're stronger now. We've formalized our governance. First time around on the transition between Bob and myself it was like young people getting married. The odds aren't always in your favor. We were a much younger company," he said. Anderson went into the job with management experience, but not CEO experience. Copham said Hollen doesn't have to worry about seeing him in the office day-to-day. "My goal has to be as a responsible primary owner. I will continue to be on our board. There are relationships that I have with credit union leaders that I really enjoy doing, but my goal is to have more freedom, more time off to pursue some other interests," he said. During an interview with Credit Union Times, Hollen, 52, and Copham, 58, found out they both have more in common than Liberty board seats - they both share an Oct. 4th birthday. "We're both Libras," joked Hollen. The executive search to fill the position was a long one, starting back in February. Copham said the outside search firm (Spencer Stuart) collaborated with an internal search committee to find the new CEO. Copham said there was an aggregate list of about 1,200 people; which was whittled down to 20. Liberty actually interviewed about 12 and it came down to three finalists. Copham said Liberty was very far along in the process of hiring another person, when Hollen's name entered the picture. -firstname.lastname@example.org
Hollen returns to credit union industry as president/CEO of Liberty Enterprises
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