MADISON, Wis. – He would have been more than happy to travel the world with his wife of 52 years and spend longer hours on the golf course, but Richard `Doc' Heins laments `every time I try to get out, they keep pulling me back in.' This time around his expertise is requested in areas outside of the credit union periphery. The former president/CEO of CUNA Mutual Insurance Society (CUMIS) retired in 1996 and literally did not have much time to figure out his next plan of action. Fielding requests from friends and colleagues to act as a consultant on a myriad of projects, Heins, 74, made the decision to start his own company, Heins Business Group, L.L.C. weeks after leaving the post he held for eight years. "There were a lot of opportunities presented but I wanted to be able to pick the projects I wanted to work on," Heins said. "We've come across some interesting and challenging entities." Affectionately known as `Doc,' Heins got the nickname during his early days with CUMIS. In the late 1950s, CUMIS President Charles Eickel created the moniker because of Heins' full-time career as a university professor. "I think he mostly called me that to keep me humble," Heins recalled. "The old-timers still call me Doc." With a credit union career spanning 45 years, at several points, Heins juggled dual roles as a university professor and industry consultant. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in business administration and accounting in 1949, Heins went on to earn his master's and doctorate degrees in business administration, focusing on insurance. In 1952, he became the chairman of UCLA's department of risk management and actuarial science, a post he held for four years. He began consulting for CUMIS in 1956 at the same time he earned his law degree and became a professor at the University of Wisconsin. Over the next three decades, Heins had an influential hand in numerous corporate developments at CUMIS especially in the area of field operations. In 1984 when Robert Curry announced he would be retiring in two years as president/CEO, Heins became the chief operating officer, eventually taking the helm in 1986. He recalls one of the major challenges on the table at the time was CUMIS's limited insurance offerings. CUMIS sold the Fidelity Bond for criminal losses of which 95% of all credit unions had purchased plans. The other product was CUMIS's credit life and liability insurance plan, which covered borrowers and savers but was limiting because industry regulations resulted in only 3,000 units sold, Heins said. More significantly, Heins sought out more opportunities to expand insurance products at a time when the industry felt the pangs of growth. "Credit unions were growing in size – there were 23,000 at the time but the number of units sold were reducing," Heins recalled. "For the long haul, it was prudent that we look at growth and diversity and still be able to offer premium value." Roughly 95% of CUMIS income came from its insurance products, a percentage Heins made strides to shift to other offerings. One such strategic move began in 1989, when CUNA signed a permanent affiliation agreement with Century Companies of America to market individual life and annuity products to credit union members. Through the PLAN AMERICA program, CUNA Mutual and Century Life aimed for greater prospecting and service efficiencies with the goal being a better insurance deal for credit union members and more effective marketing channels for credit unions, Heins said. "It was the first time in the insurance industry's history that two companies joined together and not one dollar changed hands," Heins said. "It was a great strategy because we didn't have to start from scratch." Under Heins' tenure, the CU Mortgage Guaranty Insurance was also launched and an affiliation with PMI Mortgage Guaranty Insurance allowed for credit unions to save up to 20% in losses and defaults. Keeping his goal of diversifying CUMIS' income front and center, Heins also wanted to beef up automobile insurance. He recalls the main problem being dealing with a textbook case of not having the fortitude to meet the demand. "We were doing business in Michigan and the whole process was inhibited by the amount of surplus," Heins said, adding that while CUMIS eventually sold the operation to Liberty Mutual, auto insurance still remains a viable entity. In other areas of the company, Heins also left his mark. The Marketplace Internship program launched to give CUNA Mutual management employees experience working in credit unions; the MutuaLink Lending System was introduced and CUNA Mutual provided financial support to CUNA's "Operation Grassroots." Most notably, Rosemarie Shultz was elected the first woman chair on the CUNA Mutual Board during Heins' tenure. Heins remembers his decision to retire in 1996 as a pivotal, reflective move that started with him "winding down" the year before. He didn't wait too long to ponder his next move. Weeks after retiring, Heins started getting calls from industry colleagues, friends and associates outside of the credit union movement to consult on a plethora of projects. In February 1996, he started Heins Business Group, L.L.C., a consultation company that offers strategic planning and assistance to various industries. At any given time, Heins and five other colleagues are at work on projects across the nation. For the past four years, he had been in the throes of establishing an oil refinery in Arizona. Many of his projects have centered on "fixing ecology systems" so that natural environments are preserved. He's currently involved in two such efforts in Madison, Wis. and Salt Lake City. Heins said his company allows him the flexibility to pick and choose projects with the understanding with CUNA Mutual that he would steer clear of credit union affiliations to avoid any conflicts of interest. In 2001, Heins endowed the Eugene H. Farley League Leadership Award, which was presented for the first time to Mike Mercer, president of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates at last year's CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. The award is sponsored by the American Association of Credit Union Leagues and is named after Farley, who retired in 1999 after 40 years of service to the Virginia Credit Union League. His involvement in the creation of the award stems from the admiration for his league research and advisory committee, which acted as a sounding board for pressing issues on the state level and met with Heins four times each year. "I really wanted to do something for the state league personnel because they need to be honored and recognized," Heins said. "It was fitting to name the award after Eugene because he represents one of the real professionals in the industry." Heins said he is not involved in the selection process but peers at each state league nominate candidates for the award. While he attends credit union functions mostly "if invited," he recently attended his good friend, Carroll Beach's last annual meeting in Colorado as president of that state's credit union league. "We're bonded at the hip," Heins said. Married to Ruth for 52 years, father of four daughters and grandfather to 10, Heins relishes his lifestyle post-retirement. At press time, he and his entire family were getting ready to set sail on a cruise to Alaska. Golf remains a ritual pastime. Heins remembers a time when credit unions had limited field of memberships and "they were served well" quickly adding "history also shows that if credit unions have diversification into other groups, they are better able to withstand the ups and downs of the economy," he explained. "The question has now become who are our members and how can our membership be properly and clearly defined." -

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