Paul Trylko hasn’t given any thought to the historic credit union fact that he is the first chairman to oversee the newly formed Cornerstone Credit Union League. The country’s largest league, which launched July 1 following the consolidation of leagues in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, represents nearly one-tenth of the nation’s credit unions.
Perhaps Trylko hasn’t had much time to contemplate the enormity of his new role because he knows there is so much work to be accomplished in order to meet the expectations of 570 member credit unions that the new entity will be stronger and better moving forward.
“It’s a real honor to be chosen from among my peers to serve in this role,” said Trylko, president/CEO of the $626 million Amplify Credit Union in Austin, Texas. “The rest of the board and I now understand that there is a lot of work to be done.”
In an interview with Credit Union Times, Trylko shared what he, the board and the administration plan to achieve in the first year of CCUL’s operation, as well as what the member credit unions across the three states can expect in the years to come.
“During the first year of the league we’re focusing on making sure that we get the word out in every state to ensure that everybody understands our structure and everybody understands what products and services are available to them,” he said.
During the last four weeks, CCUL staff members have been meeting with credit unions in road show presentations in each state. CCUL has two remaining road shows on Sept. 17 and Sept. 20, in Amarillo, Texas and Houston, respectively.
Credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas understood consolidation was inevitable because of mergers that have occurred in their states and across the industry. And more mergers are likely to occur over the next several years. With fewer dues-paying members, it is becoming increasingly difficult for leagues to keep up with rising costs and deliver the products and services credit unions expect.
When the CCUL board met for the first time in early July, it selected Trylko to lead the organization into the future, and for very good reasons. He’s one of the most successful credit union executives in the nation, having been recognized as CEO of the Year by NAFCU for 2013. Last year, he also was named one of Austin’s Best CEOs by the Austin Business Journal.
In addition to its strong advocacy arm, CCUL will be focusing on helping credit unions grow. And if there is anyone who knows how to make credit unions grow, it’s Trylko.
A few years after he landed the CEO job at the IBM Texas Employees FCU in 1998, he recognized the credit union’s future prospects would be limited by simply maintaining its SEG-based field of membership, according to a profile article published in the Austin Business Journal.
So in 2004, the credit union opened its membership to five counties. Two years later, the credit union changed its name to Amplify and opened six branches from 2006 through 2010. Since the cooperative launched its expansion campaign nearly 10 years ago, membership has grown from 29,475 members in March 2004 to 45,706 by June 2013.
Not bad for a guy who launched his credit union career as a teller in 1979.
Next Page: The Big Focus
Beyond this year and based on feedback he’s gotten from credit unions, Trylko said he expects the league to develop an aggressive campaign to raise public awareness about credit unions that will help increase their business and membership opportunities.
“That will be a big focus,” he said. “We’ve had some successes in each of the three states. Our job will be to put all of that together and make it into a robust program that will really help get the word out about credit unions and how we serve our members.”
Another big focus will address the growth challenges of small credit unions, and there are many of them in all three states.
The league has a small credit union department with a dedicated staff. In addition to a committee that will make recommendations to the CCUL board on how to help small cooperatives, small credit unions will have a strong voice on the board as well.
Of the 18 board seats, six are occupied by credit union executives who represent institutions with fewer than $50 million in assets. Three more board members come from credit unions with assets from $59 million to $90 million. Eight board seats are occupied by midsize cooperative executives with shops between $103 million to $626 million in assets. Just one board seat is held by a billion dollar cooperative executive, President/CEO Michael Kloiber from the $3 billion Tinker FCU of Oklahoma City.
CCUL also expects to enhance its products and services, particularly those in compliance and ALM where credit unions need a lot of support, Trylko said.
The new league will maintain advocacy offices in each state capital: Austin, Oklahoma City and Little Rock. Because there were no layoffs after the consolidation, staffing levels have remained the same in each office.
Reta Kathley, former president/CEO of the Arkansas Credit Union League, and Gary Jones, former president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma, are managing the advocacy offices in Little Rock and Oklahoma City, respectively.
“Now we have the strength, the depth and the resources provided by a larger organization…for credit unions in Oklahoma,” Jones said. “I am very proud to be a part of that.”
Kathley declined to comment for this article.
Despite the fact that CCUL is the largest league organization in the U.S., employing approximately 120 people, membership dues won’t increase.
With the consolidation, credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas “overwhelming approved a dues formula that results in no increase for the vast majority of credit unions,” according to a prepared CCUL statement.
Trylko said he expects the CCUL board to meet quarterly. The board is scheduled to meet in September during the league’s first leadership conference Sept. 5-7 in San Antonio, Texas, and will meet again in December.
In the fall, CCUL will send a survey to member credit unions to gauge their awareness of league products and services, and to what extent they are using them.
“We also want to use the survey to get a sense from member credit unions about how we are doing so far and what may be the things that we don’t provide that credit unions may want us to provide,” Trylko said.