Virtual Utilities Employees CU Carves Another Membership Niche
Shale industry workers in Pennsylvania who spend a great deal of time traveling for work, is one group Utilities Employees Credit Union, a cooperative that operates strictly online, wants to court.
The $1 billion credit union in Wyomissing, Pa., recently went down that path by implementing new marketing strategies to enhance company recognition and business partnerships in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marcellus Shale is an organic-rich black rock traditionally used as a source for conventional oil and gas reservoirs in the Appalachian basin.
UECU said like many professionals in the energy and utility services industries, Marcellus Share workers are often dispersed among rural locations, which may be distant from their hometowns. A virtual credit union like UECU with around-the-clock nationwide access might be a logical strategy to serve their financial needs, the credit union said.
UECU’s business development representatives recently spent several days in shale country, building partner relationships with local businesses that cater to the industry and attending the Marcellus Shale Southpointe Tradeshow in Washington County, Pa., according to the credit union.
“We had the opportunity through the tradeshow to hold discussions with industry attendees who were receptive to the services UECU has to offer and we hope to also further develop relationships with other vendors we met who serve the shale industry,” said Erica Kunkel, UECU business development specialist.
UECU’s representatives also traveled the region to provide materials about the credit union’s membership benefits and special financial offers for the shale industry, to local merchants, energy companies, and training programs, for distribution to the shale workers and trainees with whom they regularly interact. The group reported a successful first visit to the area.
“There are some regional hotels and businesses that reported 60% of their income came from shale industry workers last year,” said Janene Naugle, UECU business development representative.
“They serve a great deal of traveling workers who they recognize would be well-served by a virtual credit union,” she said.
“Many businesses were very happy to spread the word to customers in the shale industry and to family and friends in energy and utility careers who would benefit from UECU membership,” Naugle added.
Marcellus Shale and other energy and related-industry workers who take advantage of free membership in Energy People Connect, a professional association for energy professionals and trainees, are eligible for UECU membership, according to the credit union.
In February, UECU expanded its membership to include the 400 employees of Sunflower Electric Power Corp. in Hays, Kan.
In 2012, the 740 employees of the Alliance of Indiana Rural Water in Franklin, Ind., and the 700 employees of Groundwater and Environmental Services Inc., in Neptune, N.J., also became eligible for UECU membership.
The credit union, which serves more than 44,000 members, said its virtual model helped it reach $1 billion in assets last year. UECU said it has operated without a branch since its founding in 1934.