‘I’m a Player’: West Virginia CEO on CU Merger Quest
The CEO of a $133 million Charleston, W.Va. credit union which this week took over a $6.5 million competitor, laid down the merger gauntlet Friday, saying he has eyes on at least three small CU prospects in his field of membership.
“I’m on the NCUA list and I’m a player,” vowed C. Dana Rawlings, the president of Pioneer West Virginia Federal Credit Union, which has won final regulatory clearance to consolidate the struggling MAC FCU of South Charleston, as he made reference to the agency’s national registry of potential CU suitors.
The Pioneer WV CEO stressed that his goal “is not simply asset growth” but to provide real product and service advantages to members outside his Charleston base by opening branches in growth areas in outlying communities.
He declined to name the three merger candidates but said he has talked to board members at all of them in three counties: Putnam, Fayette and Kanawha.
Including the 1,250-member MAC FCU, which served hospital employees, all four of the CUs “share much in common since we have an educational base,” said Rawlings, whose current FOM encompasses six counties.
Rawlings said he would seek to expand Pioneer WV's reach when he took the job last July after serving as chief operating officer at the $470 million Smart Financial Credit Union in Houston.
Being able to expand in key communities surrounding Charleston “with those strategic partners where we have a fit” represents a win-win condition for those CUs which seek to offer more high-tech products and escape the heavy compliance burden.
There are “so many credit unions” that simply find it impossible to operate in the current environment and a merger is an expedient avenue, said Rawlings.
The Pioneer WV CEO, who took over the Charleston CU following a stint as chief financial officer at $470 million Smart CU in Houston, said his CU is prepared to “go outside of West Virginia” to expand.
As for MAC FCH, it has made great progress in recent months “since it used to be a Camel 4 and now is a Camel 3.” The CU did show net profit of $55,000 during 2010 after losing $209,000 in 2009. It eked out a miniscule income gain in the first quarter.
Pioneer WV will not be a CU “stuck in a box,” but intends to serve its members and potential members with online and other high-tech services “that consumers demand,” Rawlings said.