Mike Shafer is a very busy executive nowadays. He’s orchestrating the complexities of consolidating the operations of three credit unions following their merger believed to be the first of its kind in Ohio.
The merger of three credit unions – Members First, Powerco and Western all based in Columbus – was an historic first in the Buckeye State, Shafer said he was told by regulators.
The new credit union, Pathways Financial CU, born Aug. 1, has $187 million in assets and more than 25,000 members across four counties – Franklin, Delaware, Madison and Union – in central Ohio.
Shafer is Pathways Financial’s CEO and Greg Kidwell is its president. Kidwell had been president/CEO of Members First.
“We are tremendously excited about this merger, which we have been working on for the last three years as a strategic merger,” Shafer said, who was president/CEO of Powerco when he was approached by now-retired Western CU President/CEO Tom Furrey to discuss a possible merger.
They continued to talk informally and approached Members First about two years ago. The discussions continued until the merger idea formed into a tangible agreement at the end of last year when Furrey retired.
Because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay competitive for small to midsize credit unions to provide all of the products and services customers are demanding, Shafer said merging the strengths of the three credit unions made sense.
“Over the next year, we are assimilating all of our products and services that we brought to our members as individual credit unions,” said Shafer. “For example, Western CU has a strong mobile and text banking service that Powerco and Members First didn’t have.
“Members First has a big commercial and business services portfolio both on the lending and deposit side that Powerco and Western didn’t have, and Powerco has a much bigger mortgage portfolio and other strengths it brings to the table.”
Shafer estimated Pathways Financial will be able to offer a combination of 25 new products and services for members. With six branches and 60 employees, the new credit union is expecting to create new jobs including an IT manager, a compliance officer and a number of support positions, Shafer said.