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ATLANTA – Don DeCinque, president of Atlanta Postal Credit Union with $1.23 billion in assets, started his career with the credit union just out of college. He began working as a teller in 1981, when the credit union had a mere $74 million in assets and less than 20 employees. With his aptitude for finances he was promoted to Controller in 1990, and eventually to president in 1999 (Atlanta Postal has eliminated the CEO position.). DeCinque is not only true to old school ladder climbing in his career but also to the pure credit union philosophy. “I would prefer it that every body work their way up that way.” he commented. “I don’t think you can beat service time.I don’t think any kind of advanced degree makes up for that.” DeCinque pointed out that he had done just about every job in the credit union. However, he lamented that he realizes people now are looking to hire someone with an advanced degree, including his Atlanta Postal at times. DeCinque, himself, earned an associate’s degree from Clayton State College in business administration and a bachelors degree in accounting from Georgia State University and personally prefers work and life experience to fancy degrees. At just 43, DeCinque said he plans to retire at his credit union unless “something bad, bad happens. Then I might leave the credit union but not the credit union community.” “I’ve been here so long, I can’t imagine anything else,” he explained. He said he enjoys his work and likes feeling good about the credit union philosophy. “The `people helping people’ philosophy is something we do here at Atlanta Postal Credit Union,” he said. DeCinque credits his work with former Atlanta Postal CEO Moses Spence, who had been with the credit union for decades, as helping him to develop his sense of the credit union philosophy, as well as Georgia credit union founder Moses Davis. “I learned from some really good credit union people. Just being with them, around them, helped me with my ideas and credit union philosophy,” according to DeCinque. While numbers and finance have always been “part of who I am,” he said he was not sure what exactly he wanted for a career before college, even though he had opened his first account at the former Eastern Airlines Credit Union. What first tipped DeCinque off to his passion for numbers was when he was a kid hiding under his blanket at night with a transistor radio and a flash light, figuring all the baseball stats for that night’s game after he was supposed to be asleep. The story of the credit union has some parallel to its manager’s career: it started small and climbed its way up. When Atlanta Postal was founded in 1925 with a $2,505 deposit, thoughts of becoming Georgia’s largest credit union were probably the furthest from the minds’ of its founders. Yet, as of March 2002, the state’s oldest credit union, and still a single sponsor, held $1.23 billion in assets. The credit union grew 11% from the end of 2000 to year-end 2001 to about $1.2 billion. Atlanta Postal currently serves more than 91,000 members. At present, the credit union has four branches up and running, as well as offering Internet banking, with no plans to open any more branches. DeCinque believes that much of a credit union’s profit can be eaten away by extraneous staffing, so the large credit union is run by 125 employees. “We hired good people that work very hard and get paid good salaries and good benefits.We ask a lot of our employees but they also get a lot,” DeCinque said. Consequently, he pointed out, Atlanta Postal is able to offer some of the best savings rates in the country. As postal employees, many of the credit union’s members do not hesitate to conduct business by mail, even with the introduction of a fully transactional Web site. Only about 50% of Atlanta Postal’s members are in Georgia. Additionally, less than 10%, though DeCinque said a “very vocal” fraction, take advantage of the institution’s Web banking, but that number is steadily increasing. Atlanta Postal offers the Minute Money Loan 24-hours a day, where members can get 90-second decisions on loan applications over the Internet. DeCinque said there are about 300 applications a month received online and the number is increasing. The credit union has also just begun offering online statement review and bill pay for Visa credit cards and the ability to transfer between one member’s account to another. Technological advances have their good and bad sides, DeCinque acknowledged. On one hand, he said he could not imagine trying to do business by hand, filling out ledger cards, which the credit union still has archived. However, he said it could make things a bit impersonal. “Technology can hurt you if you let it take you away from the personal. You just can’t let it doe that,” he explained. When someone calls Atlanta Postal, they are greeted by a human voice, not an automated directory, DeCinque said. DeCinque also serves on Atlanta Postal’s Board; the Board of Cooperative Services, Inc.; as a director of SWIRL, the organization that directs Georgia’s Credit Union Service Centers; and is a member of various state credit union committees. Additionally, he also is active in numerous state and national postal conventions and meetings each year. DeCinque has two adolescent boys, Anthony and Nick. He is a self-described “baseball nut” and avid Braves fan, as well as a supporter of University of Georgia and Georgia Tech athletics. He also is cultivating a collection of statuettes of the lighthouses he has visited. [email protected]

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