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GLENDALE, Calif. – In most ways it’s hard to describe Ron McDaniel as a new kid on the block. After all, he has been in the credit union movement more than 30 years, served on the CUNA Board, and was CEO of Point Mugu Federal Credit Union when the American Bankers Association in the mid-1990′s filed its lawsuit against the NCUA over the agency’s approval of the CU’s conversion from a multiple group to a community charter. But McDaniel only became president/CEO of California Credit Union in February this year (he succeeded Ron Nagata). Like any newcomer, he’s been getting acquainted and developing his circle of friends. In the business world, that has meant forming a management team to carry on after some turnover. It has also meant getting the staff comfortable with that team’s style and approach. Some of the management team had arrived the year before McDaniel was hired. He has also added a couple positions to that roster, bringing in new players and realigning some responsibilities. “I’m real excited about the people we have in place, and I think we’ll be around for a while,” McDaniel says. “I want to create an environment where all our employees can succeed, and where we judge success by providing a high quality of service to our members. We need to give employees the tools to do what they need to do on a daily basis. We should learn from the past but look forward to doing things differently and better in the future.” McDaniel himself has been involved with credit unions since 1973 – in fact, even before he graduated from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks with a BA in business administration. While still in college he was hired as a management trainee at USEIT Federal Credit Union in Torrance, then joined Torrance City Employees Federal Credit Union. Next it was on to Point Mugu Federal Credit Union in Oxnard, where he worked for 22 years, three years as executive vice president and 19 as president before leaving to accept the CEO job at CCU. During that time Point Mugu FCU hit the news when the California Bankers sued NCUA over the agency’s decision to grant PMFCU a community charter (the California Bankers Association and a community bankers association filed as intervening plaintiffs). At stake, as it turned out, was not only PMFCU’s future in the face of possible downsizing or closing of the Point Mugu military base, but the future of community charters for federal credit unions. In August 1996, the banker groups dropped their lawsuit. In a sense, CCU has also been trying to decide what it wants to be. Formed in 1933 as The Los Angeles Teachers Credit Union, CCU was founded to serve educational professionals. In the 1990s membership broadened to include PTA members and other groups. Then, in 2002, the credit union decided to refocus on the original field of membership – educators. Although McDaniel wasn’t there at the time, people have told him about what happened. “I think the credit union was trying to decide whether it was going to be a quasi-community charter or not. They decided it had gotten away from the core of its membership and wanted to focus on education,” he says. Actually, CCU still casts a fairly wide net. Click on to member eligibility at the (www.californiacu.org) Web site and you’ll see the list includes senior-year students of education, public television contributors, American Scouting members, and current or retired employees not only of Los Angeles Unified School District but other school districts as well as California colleges and private schools. “We have a really solid field of membership,” McDaniel says, “one that maybe has a little more stability than some others. One thing we know is population in California is going to continue to grow and the need for education for our young people is going to be extremely important. “In recent years we’re also seeing the aging of our teacher population, which is driving some deposit base to us.” It has also created a low loan-to-share ratio of approximately 55%, which needs to be balanced with more loan activity. On the positive side, retirements and mandated class size reductions have created demand for entry-level teachers. That, in turn, has helped CCU’s field of membership grow. California CU’s Web site shows the list of the CU’s branches has been growing. Given high real estate costs in California, has it been difficult to add new locations? “It’s Economics 101,” McDaniel says. “We try to look at what new business the branch is expected to bring in and determine if that is enough to make the branch pay for itself, regardless of the cost of rent or purchase as well as personnel and other costs. “We’ve used a combination of strategies. We lease or own based on the opportunities in the market at that time. For example, we just opened a branch in downtown Los Angeles that is actually in the LA Unified School District building. Obviously in that case we’re leasing, and it makes sense because there’s a big cluster of several thousand members.” As for the option of buying a location across the street, for starters there’s nothing there to purchase, McDaniel explains. The cost would also be way too high to make sense. The credit union does own some buildings, often leasing out part of the space to various tenants. The decision can involve predicting what future rents and values will be in the crowded Los Angeles metropolitan area. Stress? McDaniel seems to take it all in stride. In fact, he declares life has been pretty good to him. His daughter is a student at University of California – Davis and seems to be having a great time there. McDaniel himself is a sports fan who especially loves baseball, to be even more precise the Los Angeles Dodgers. You’ll often find him at Dodger Stadium. He also likes to read history and historical novels. Both he and his wife enjoy traveling, simply driving the highways to see what’s there. They’ll pick a destination, then explore whatever intrigues them as they move along. “She’s one to say, `Just over here off this highway is something that might be of interest. Why don’t we try to find that?’,” McDaniel explains. -

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