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<p>ATLANTA – A word to the wise: Don’t scoff at any suggestions Georgia FCU’s new president/CEO Warren Butler says he going to try – that will only get him to work that much harder at his endeavor just to prove he’s can do what he sets his mind to do. Like the little train that said `Yes I can,” Butler’s philosophy of being able to do anything a person puts their mind to do, drives his professional and personal life. Weekdays, Butler can be found getting up to speed as president/CEO of the seventh largest credit union in the state, a position he’s held since January 2 when former president Mike Ivey retired. Butler was formerly GFCU’s senior vice president. His day typically starts at 7:30 a.m. – an hour-and-a-half earlier than when the credit union opens for business – and ends about 12 hours later. It’s a long day, but, “You do what you have to do to get the job done,” says Butler. Come the weekend, though, Butler sheds his professional suit and tie attire and is more likely to be found involved with one or more of his hobbies. The 48-year old Butler is an avid bow and arrow hunter – he’s won more than 40 archery tournaments over the last 15 years. But the sport he considers his primary hobby is trap shooting – he’s won three Georgia and two Alabama state championships and participated in the 2001 World Championships. Butler also races go-carts at speeds up to 55 mph and does motorized hang-gliding. He quips that in his spare time he tries his hand at “normal, regular sports” like golf. “I don’t like being laughed at,” Butler admits. “If I tell someone I’m going to try something and they laugh, that makes me want to succeed at it all the more.” Butler says he’s always been active and just loves the outdoors. On the weekends, he and his wife love to be outside and “simply have a blast,” he says. “Life is too short to simply sit around and not have outside interests,” says Butler. He considers himself a risk taker. “I like to be the underdog and do things people say I can’t do,” he says. Butler takes that attitude of taking risks with him to the credit union and applies it to his work ethic. He says the worst answer someone can give him when he asks why something is done a certain way is, “”Because that’s how it’s always been done.” That attitude has been evident in the nearly two months Butler has occupied the president/CEO’s seat at Georgia FCU. He’s spent most of that time traveling to the $267-million credit union’s 10 branches throughout the state, meeting with senior managers and talking with them about quality service. “The direction has to come from the top,” says Butler. One morning at a meeting at one of GFCU’s branches, he invited a member who had written the credit union with a complaint about service at the CU, to participate by phone in the meeting and explain to the branch managers exactly what their complaint was. “It would have been one thing for the managers to hear about it from me, but it had a totally different impact when they heard from the member themselves,” says Butler. After the meeting, Butler discussed the problem with the managers and listened to their suggestions to remedy the situation. “You have to take the time and listen,” he stresses. Another idea “outside the box” Butler has is for GFCU to expand its car sales to include things like recreational vehicles, campers and jet skis. “Our members don’t typically look at us as a place to go for a loan for these types of things, but why shouldn’t they?” he asks. About eight years ago, when Butler was director of operations in charge of GFCU’s lending area, a member wanted to finance the purchase of a hot air balloon through the credit union. Butler recalled others in the credit union were reluctant to approve the loan, but Butler was willing to take the chance and approved it. “Credit unions have to come up with unique ways to compete,” says Butler. “Credit unions are basing their strategies too much on what others are doing, rather than looking at what their members need. They need to think outside the box and look at getting into things like construction loans and interest-only home equity loans. All members may not want these types of products, but it’s important to give them options and let the members choose and decide what’s best for them.” “You have to be willing to think outside the box and take chances, that’s how you improve and progress,” says Butler. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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