MacDill Federal Credit Union: `A Tough Place to Work' - and Proud of It
TAMPA, Fla. - If you apply for a job at MacDill Federal Credit Union, President/CEO Bob Fisher wants you to understand expectations are high. "This is not an easy place to work," he states. "We are very demanding of ourselves." He describes himself as impatient. "One of the things I...
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TAMPA, Fla. – If you apply for a job at MacDill Federal Credit Union, President/CEO Bob Fisher wants you to understand expectations are high. “This is not an easy place to work,” he states. “We are very demanding of ourselves.” He describes himself as impatient. “One of the things I see out there in the world is people refusing to take responsibility for what they do. In business, people will sometimes do things and won’t think through the logic of it. Or they will get hurried and the end result is shoddy.” Fisher also believes while you can’t get mired in details, details are indeed important. “I do not like to see spelling errors or punctuation problems in letters. In letters to members, it’s all representative of who we are. When you’re putting it out to the public, it better be right,” he declares. “I see these problems in resumes all the time. They’re rife with spelling errors and punctuation problems. They’re coming to me for a job, probably the most important thing to them is their resume, and they can’t even make sure that is right. What does that tell me about how they would handle our members business?” On the positive side, he stresses there are ample opportunities for employees to achieve a lot of success. Performance is recognized through a bonus and incentive plan, and in other ways. For example, last football season 11 MacDill FCU employees received coveted tickets to Tampa Bay Buccaneers games. The tickets were awarded in recognition of special efforts to deliver what MFCU calls Total Member Experience. Here’s a sampling of the winners. When Nancy Kehler received a call from a member in Korea wanting to know how he could order flowers for his girlfriend on Valentines Day when all he had was an ATM card, Nancy went out after work, bought the roses, and delivered them to the girlfriend at the base hospital before she came to work the next day. When a member needed to tap money in an IRA to cover a shortage in her checking account, Doug Every took the IRA Distribution form to her office during his lunch hour so she could sign it and he could complete the transfer for her before the close of the business day. Obran Cottman helped a member who is legally blind and uses a guide dog to assist him in getting around the base. One day, as the member was leaving the credit union, he got turned around and couldn’t find his way to the bus stop. Cottman went outside, took him by the arm, and walked him a full block to the bus stop. Hiring people who can support that culture is very important, Fisher says. “Attitude starts at the top and filters down,” he says. “If the CEO doesn’t have the attitude of wanting to be the best and do what is best for the membership, employees catch onto that very quickly. “I’m proud of the people who work for me. We have made a difference in some of our members’ lives. Yes, we cash checks all day, we make loans and take deposits. But look at some of these stories. We ran a full-page ad in the Tampa Tribune a couple weeks ago and published stories like those. “I’m not cashing checks. I’m not making loans. It’s everybody else down there doing it. That’s where the accolades lie. They’re truly the people who deserve all the recognition. They’re the people who are actually carrying through our vision,” Fisher says. Although MacDill Air Force Base is home of Central Command, charged with leading the battle in Iraq, Fisher says the war hasn’t really affected the credit union. He points out the credit union began diversifying by adding SEGs back in the 1980s. MFCU was keenly aware relatively small MacDill has always been a possible line item on the Pentagon’s base closure list. Today, while the base has some 4,000 active military plus 3,000 to 4,000 civilian employees, credit union membership has reached 147,000. In the late 1980s NCUA responded to some problems at MFCU by putting the credit union under a letter of understanding. A new board took over in 1990, the same year Fisher joined the credit union. He brought with him a degree in business from the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He laughs as he notes that, since he was from Cincinnati, “I could drive home and get my laundry done. Mom was real nice about that.” He later returned to college to take accounting courses and obtain his CPA. He got into corporate tax work, was hired by SunTrust Bank, then joined MFCU. He took over as CEO in August, 1992. “We have been pretty much running hard and fast since then,” Fisher says. “We came out from under NCUA sometime in 1993 and been rising and going gangbusters.” In 1990 assets were $240 million. MFCU hit the $1 billion mark last fall. MFCU is now the Number 3 auto lender in the Tampa Bay area, behind only GMAC and Ford Motor Credit. Average member age is 43, down from 59 when Fisher came on board. Approximately 3,500 new members join every month, creating a steady need for new branches. Yes, diversification has boosted growth, but Fisher believes there’s more to it. “You don’t expand membership unless you are providing great service and great rates. That, I think, is what is setting us apart. We really work hard at trying to get the membership to use us for all their financial products and services,” he says. So you want to be the primary financial institution? “We even want to go beyond that,” Fisher answers. “We really try to go the extra mile to help members. Just because you get a SEG, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to sign up employees as members of the credit union. A lot of our growth comes from word of mouth – friends telling friends and family members telling other family members what we feel is a great story.” MFCU instituted the Total Member Experience program over the past year. As Fisher describes it, it starts from the minute the member drives onto the credit union property. Are they able to find a place to park? Are the grounds and building clean? When they arrive at the teller line, are they greeted by their last name? Is their problem or their business handled promptly? When he’s not making sure the answer to questions like this is “Yes,” you’ll likely find Fisher at a soccer field or a track meet. He and his wife have two children, a son who is a high school senior and a daughter in her junior year. His son just signed a letter of intent to play soccer for Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. In addition to cheering on his son and daughter, he is probably taking photos. He enjoys photography, and a couple of his shots have appeared in the state soccer magazine. You might also find him riding his Harley-Davison motorcycle. On Saturday mornings you’re likely to hear the distinctive rubble of a Harley Hog as he and his daughter head out of the neighborhood for breakfast. -
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