MOUNDS VIEW, Minn. – Stan Hollen can’t believe time has gone so fast. The 53-year old former CEO of the $4 billion The Golden 1 CU began his job as president/CEO of Liberty Enterprises last September 23, and nine months later, Hollen is still amazed that working at Liberty has turned out to be “such a good fit, what I was looking for.” Looking back on when he first decided to accept Liberty Chairman and founder Dave Copham’s offer to join the company, Hollen said he saw it as an opportunity to come back to the Midwest – Hollen grew up in Central Illinois and both he and his wife still have family there – and to remain involved with credit unions, even though it’s from the vendor’s side of the desk. “Liberty is a credit union-focused company,” said Hollen, “and it’s highly regarded in the credit union market. That’s what distinguishes us from our competition. They’re bank check printers that also sell to credit unions, but Liberty is a credit union check printer that sells to a handful of banks.” Liberty Enterprises’ revenues in 2002 were a record $144.8 million, up from a previous record set in 2001 of $132 million. According to Hollen, 95% of Liberty’s clients are credit unions. The company has about 74% of the credit union check printing market, but most of its clients are small and mid-size CUs. It still has only a third of the large credit unions as clients and 10% of the top 100 CUs. Those numbers don’t surprise Hollen – Liberty Enterprises grew fast in its early years by serving the small and mid-size credit unions that other check printers weren’t. But Hollen is working to broaden Liberty’s reach to large credit unions. He’s certainly not lacking in experience working with large credit unions. Under his presidency at The Golden 1 in Sacramento, Calif. the CU went from being a $295 million CU to having $4 billion in assets. The Golden 1 also expanded its field-of-membership to serve 22 communities in California and all state employees. Hollen was also involved with starting up a lot of credit union companies – as XCU Capital Corp., CU Mortgages, CU Auto Sales, and CU Direct – and is recognized for his expertise with payment systems. Hollen said that experience allows him to bring something extra to the table. “I’ve been on the other side, and I understand credit union operations. When I talk with a credit union CEO, I talk with them peer-to-peer,” he said. In addition to working to expand Liberty Enterprise’s market share among large credit unions, Hollen has been working on beefing up Liberty’s company image among credit unions. In February, the company was designated the official check printer of the National Credit Union Foundation. “It’s important that credit unions are able to distinguish us from bank check printers,” he said. Just as important, said Hollen, is that credit unions understand Liberty Enterprises doesn’t just do checks and we’re not just a small credit union provider. “We’re a payments systems company,” he said, adding that he realizes that “what credit unions look to us for depends on the size of the credit union.” Hollen is well aware of the numbers from the Federal Reserve Board’s revised Retail Payments Research Project Report the agency released in 2002 that corrected numbers published in a previous Fed report and showed consumers wrote 42.5 billion checks in 2000, and not 49.5 billion as was earlier stated. He’s unfazed by the numbers. “You have to remember that the majority of the check usage market is banks and bank business checks. Neither affects us,” said Hollen, adding he’s convinced the credit union check market is still growing mostly due to the shift to community charters. “Don’t underestimate the paper check. There’s still a significant market share to be had in checks,” he said. “Over time, e-commerce will have some effect and we’re starting to see it make a dent, but it tends to follow the size scale, and so far it’s mostly among large credit unions.” He added that, “E-commerce is an evolving process. Electronic bill payment hasn’t evolved to the point where it’s caught on among most credit union members, not even among those members who are Web savvy.” By Hollen’s estimates, one in five credit union members use electronic payment instead of writing checks. “That’s not a high level of stickiness,” he said. Still, according to Liberty Executive Vice President Mike Provenzano of Liberty Internet Services, a division of Liberty Enterprises that includes Liberty Online and Liberty Cavion, “has become one of our fastest-growing product lines.” Numbers for March 2003 show Liberty Internet Services recorded a bill pay dollar value of nearly $25 million in March. Just eight months before that, Liberty Internet Services customers registered $12.3 million in payments. “Liberty Enterprises has expanded its product line in response to credit unions’ demands,” he said, and that includes marketing services, plastic cards, e-commerce, the internet and Web hosting. In the nine months since Hollen came on board at Liberty Enterprises, he’s spent about 50% of his time visiting with credit unions customers and potential customers, trade shows and various credit union events. He’s also on the board of the Check Printers Association. Hollen said Liberty Enterprises plans to continue working on strategic alliances with credit unions and suppliers and developing its check printing product line. In the first nine months of Hollen’s career at Liberty, the company already made several significant check-related announcements such as becoming the exclusive U.S. printer of Supercheck, a product of SAFEchecks, a North Hollywood, Calif.-based check fraud prevention company. Supercheck was designed by renowned former fraudster and current financial institution consultant on fraud, Frank Abagnale. Liberty Enterprises also plans to make available in July other check fraud and ID prevention tools such as EZShield and Premier Pack. By the end of 2003, Hollen said Liberty would be also ready to make significant strategic partnership announcements. -

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