LOWELL, Mass. -- You could say Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union President/CEO Paul R. Mayotte was "born" into credit unions.
A loyal member from a young age Mayotte says he's literally been a member since birth and has worked in banking all his life.
"It sounds like the standard line but truly I've always been committed to helping people and to me it is fun and the best part of my job," said Mayotte. "It is what credit unions are all about--making life better for our members and it is something the banks lost sight of long ago."
After leading the credit union for some 17 years, Mayotte has recently announced his plans to retire in December.
"Announcing my retirement is bittersweet," said Mayotte. "I have enjoyed my many years with my JDCU family and will miss them all dearly. On the other hand, I've worked hard and I am looking forward to spending quality time with my family as I enter my golden years. I've had the pleasure of watching the credit union grow in leaps and bounds while never losing sight of the importance of our members."
He joined the credit union in April 1983 as an assistant treasurer, was appointed president/CEO in 1991 and has enjoyed serving JDCU members ever since.
With over 30 years of banking experience, Mayotte helped JDCU grow from a $172 million institution to one with more than $610 million in assets serving over 45,000 members.
"I get really embarrassed talking about all the great things we've done. I mean we started out with no branches and were open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.," said Mayotte. "We now, as one of the third or fourth oldest credit unions in the country, have been able to bring JDCU into the 21st century. Our membership encompasses four counties and only 19%
of them are having face-to-face interactions with us. From our world class Web site and online banking to our facilities and community education efforts we're able to help so many more people."
He adds that the challenge now like many community credit unions is breaking down the public's perception that they have to work at a particular company to be part of a credit union.
"It's interesting. We constantly conduct focus groups with nonmembers. Our reputation with them is superb so many say to the moderator 'Oh I wish I could join' and we tell them 'You can you live here' and they get so excited," said Mayotte. "It is an ongoing challenge but something we as community credit unions have to constantly deal with by building awareness."
He credits JDCU's success to the staff and board, who despite any growth in numbers or services remain focused on being "member-centric."
"We've been fortunate to attract some really top notch people and it's really true if you hire the right attitude you can teach the skill sets," said Mayotte. "We're employee and member-centric so by focusing on service and taking care of people the smiles come naturally. Our strategic planning comes from the bottom up and it goes a long way in terms of employee motivation and morale. They tell us what they think we should be doing it's not something that is being driven from the top. It makes for the type of culture where we all work hard and have a good time doing it."
Some could say that dedication to service is Mayotte's driving force. Ready to lend a hand locally, Mayotte also devotes dozens of hours each month to a number of organizations in greater Lowell that are focused on enhancing the quality of life among area residents. He is a corporator and trustee of Saints Medical Center in Lowell; a trustee of D'Youville Senior Care Center in Lowell; a director of the Lowell Day Nursery; and a Knight of Magistral Grace of the Order of Malta.
In addition, Mayotte has played an influential role within the credit union industry. He is a former director with U.S. Central Credit Union and Eastern Corporate Federal Credit Union, both founded to serve the liquidity and investment needs of credit unions throughout the U.S.
Mayotte says he doesn't see himself slowing down much in retirement and has already been approached by several organizations to share his expertise.
"I will not only miss the staff and board but also the members and helping them. It feels great to be able to talk to them and tell them we can fix this," said Mayotte. "So once I leave I'll find ways to continue to make a difference whether it is consulting or something else I just want to help others."
As for other retirement plans, Mayotte is headed south and is building a house in Fort Meyers, Florida, where he'll be only a few miles away from where the Boston Red Sox hold spring training.
"I told my staff I'll be swapping the snow and ice for alligators," said Mayotte. "There is still a lot to be done from now until December but the time is right for me to do this. I will be 64 this year, the credit union is doing great and I think it is time for some new blood."