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ORLANDO, Fla. – Talk about climbing the ladder rung by rung. Larry Tobin has done it all during his 22 years at Fairwinds Credit Union. Tobin, who started as a part-time teller back in 1981, will take over the CEO position of the $900 million Fairwinds CU from Ed Baranowski effective July 1. Along the way Tobin has been involved in just about every function of the credit union. Tobin, 41, also has a long history with the credit union as a member. He joined when he was just nine-years old. His dad was eligible through his civil service Navy job. Fairwinds was chartered to serve a special Navy warfare training group. Fairwinds was originally Special Devices Center FCU based in Port Washington, N.Y. It moved down to Orlando, taking on the name Navy Orlando FCU, to the Naval Training Center. The Center has since been shut down and the credit union converted to a state charter in 1999, now serving five counties. It chose to keep its name in the nautical theme to maintain its tie with its original sponsor, which still has a presence in Orlando. Despite the expanded FOM, the Navy is and always will be very important to the CU said Tobin. “We still serve members from our original sponsor, the Naval Air Warfare Training System Division, but we’ve expanded tremendously, now serving 105,000 members,” said Tobin. Employees at Fairwinds are known as “crew members” and many have relatives fighting in the war against Iraq. Each department at the CU has adopted a soldier and sends them care packages. Tobin’s career at Fairwinds started at 19 years of age while attending the University of Central Florida. He had an assignment to interview people in the field he was interested in pursuing as a career, which for him was finance. He wound up interviewing the assistant manager of Navy Orlando FCU. He thought the credit union would be a great place to get some financial experience. He was hired as a part-time teller at $4.30 an hour. Tobin immediately showed initiative. “I noticed there was no formalized training program at the credit union. I asked the manager if I could create some kind of training program, and I just started to do it. We even had weekend training sessions,” he said. He became a “teller slash trainer.” Tobin then got involved in the CU’s computer systems. He was interested in computers and when the CU’s systems manager was hired away by Summit, Tobin was hired as a computer operator, eventually becoming VP of Systems. He was later named VP of Administration, which he described as an all-encompassing position overseeing many different areas, including lending, marketing, deposits, etc. In 1990 he was named EVP/COO and became Baranowski’s “co-pilot.” His journey from the bottom of the ladder to the top gives him a unique experience few CEOs have. “I’ve been in everyone’s shoes. I have a good understanding of what their job is, and I’ve assisted members.” Tobin has the highest admiration for Baranowski and said it was his believing in him that helped his career take off. “He’s a great friend, a great leader. I think the thing about him is he never treated me as if he were my boss. He always treated me as I’ve been the co-pilot and we worked together to lead the credit union. He doesn’t get in your way. He’s energetic, enthusiastic and he believed in me,” said Tobin. Even 10 to 15 years ago when Baranowski was approached about some league and other jobs, Baranowski would ask Tobin if he was ready to lead the credit union. “Back then he made me feel like I could do it. He was always supportive.” The two have been meeting every Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. since about 1990. “I told him when he’s gone I’ll probably call him on Mondays at 10:00,” said Tobin. As for management styles, Tobin said Baranowski is probably more paternalistic, while he’s more participative. “I’m a little bit more direct, more focused. He’s gentler than me,” said Tobin. “He’s 65 and retiring and I’m 41, so we’re in different places.” Under Baranowski, there was a strong two-person upper level management team in Tobin and Baranowski. Tobin said it will be a three-person show when he takes over. The CU’s VP of Finance/CFO, Kathy Chonody, will be promoted to CFO/EVP and VP of Member Services Phil Tischer is being promoted to SVP/COO. On the home front, Tobin is plenty busy with five children. “It takes up a lot of time. I’m going to scout meetings and dance lessons. I’m a chauffer for them when I’m not here,” he said. He’s also a man of music. While he went to college for finance and achieved both a bachelor’s and MBA in finance, just two years ago he went back to school for his bachelors degree in music. Currently he plays piano and keyboard with a church group. They recently put out their second CD of contemporary Christian music. At $900 million and growing, Tobin said the CU will throw quite a party to celebrate the $1 billion asset mark and Baranowski will be at the top of the guest list. “That should be coming up pretty soon,” he said. [email protected]

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