PORTLAND, Ore. – This state’s top credit union regulator, Floyd Lanter, chuckles when he describes “a true merger of equals” in the planned combination this fall of PACE CU of Portland and Electra Central CU of Milwaukie. That’s because the CEO of each are married in one of the rare such circumstances of a husband/wife in top management at U.S. credit unions. “I have been telling people that my husband just took my job,” laughed Cindy Barrick, who has been CEO of the $145 million Electra for two and a half years and under the merger will give up the CEO title to her husband, Ron Barrick, the president and CEO of the $330 million PACE. The couple has been married seven years but met while both were in CU jobs. Ron is 48 and his wife is 49. For his part, Ron admits to treading lightly around the house these days. “I keep an eye out for flying pots and pans,” he joked. “Another CEO could be bitter or decide to just quit and take another job, but Cindy has demonstrated why she has brought such great value to the members of Electra.” Ron says his wife could just as easily been named CEO of the combined institution “and I would be out looking for a job.” The decision to hire Ron, who has been with PACE as CEO since 1987, “was a tough one for directors to make,” confided Electra Chairman Bob Pearson. “But in the end there is only one job. We were lucky to have two such great people who could guide the new credit union. They both handled it very professionally.” Cindy says she has not made up her mind as to her long-term future but she will stay as long as she is needed through the year as “Transition Team” leader for the merger. The merger is slated to be completed by October with a new name for the 35,000-member institution yet to be decided. “I will make sure Ron continues to do a stellar job,” says Cindy. “Besides, I know where he lives.” Cindy, who before becoming Electra CEO was president/CEO at Willamette Falls FCU, Oregon City, says the two first met at industry seminars and at times “I’d call him at PACE and ask him what he was doing with some loan products and I’d ask if I could have copies” of how they worked. Cindy says her career path has long been to become CEO of a CU starting as a teller at Fibre Federal Community CU and later promoted to chief financial officer. She later joined Electra as vice president of finance and then promoted to CEO. “It’s been a good career path for me gaining valuable experience along the way,” says Cindy who now will have her hands full helping her husband with merger details. Ironically, Ron began his career at Electra in 1979 as a teller just out of college. He worked in member services, collections and marketing and in 1981 became chief financial officer at Pacific Northwest FCU promoted in 1983 at age 26 to be president/CEO. After joining PACE-then known as City of Portland Employees’ Credit Union – Ron was considered instrumental in growing assets of the CU from $36 million and changing its name to Portland Area Community Employees in 1989. In press data on the merger, it was noted that PACE has been rated by Callahan &: Associates as number one in its peer group 17 times “in returning financial value to members.” Lanter, the Oregon CU regulator who is Administrator of the Division of Oregon Division of Finance and Corporate Securities, said filing paperwork for the merger is on schedule. “It sure is ironic to have this kind of man-wife merger in our state,” he declares adding he knew of no other like it currently in the U.S. Electra is slated to hold its annual meeting April 21 when members will formally act on the merger package. But prior to that, the CU’s Web site will contain more details on the merger plans as well as the personal comments of Ron and Cindy on being married and CEOs. Ron, says Cindy, “is my merger partner.” And on that score one might note there’s always plenty to be said when it comes to a marriage. -jrubenscut@aol.com