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HOUSTON – With competition as fierce as it is here and convenience key to member satisfaction, Transtar Federal Credit Union has recently opted to make a few strategic branching moves. After changing its name from Transco FCU earlier this year, the $36 million credit union turned its eye to reaching more members through branches. “We’d like for our members to feel at home when they walk into our branches -comfortable enough to have a cup of coffee and confident that we’ll take care of their problem, help them meet their financial goals while still providing them with the quality service they’re accustomed to,” said Transtar FCU Vice President of Operations Rocky Hinojosa. To that end Transtar FCU first relocated its 1,000 square-foot office from the fifth floor of its sponsor the Williams Companies, Inc. to the entry-level. “You’d be surprised what a difference it has made being on the entry level of a 65-story building,” said Hinojosa. “Not only is it a more convenient location but our members don’t have to deal with elevators or the additional security anymore.” In determining where to build its next facility, Transtar FCU tapped St. Paul, Minnesota-based Liberty Enterprises, Inc. for its database management systems and discovered that some 80% of its members were on the west side of Houston. The perfect site turned out to be a vacant building, which formerly served as a doctor’s office and literally fell into the credit union’s lap. “It was an ideal location in a residential area and initially it wasn’t even for sale,” said Hinojosa. “We just happened to ask at the right time apparently three banks were looking at the same building but they had a 90-day waiting period and we offered the cash immediately and swooped in.” Although the process involved major renovations and basically gutting the building’s interior costs were kept to a minimum. The 6,000 square foot branch has a more traditional look with rich dark woods and a few high tech touches such as an Internet caf area. While many credit unions are making the move to remote teller systems, keeping the traditional teller line was very important to the credit union. “Our members, although they are pretty tech-savvy-our home banking penetration is about 35%-they still want to come in and talk face-to-face with the tellers so it was important to strike a balance,” said Hinojosa. According to Hinojosa plans are underway to open another branch early next year. [email protected]

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