BERLIN, N.H. – Woodlands Credit Union has a capital ratio of 28.37%, but this was not always the case-it used to be higher. “My board struggles with how much is too much,” President and CEO Tim Collia commented. Prior to joining Woodlands over three years ago, he served as chief financial officer at one of the larger credit unions in Michigan. At the time he came to Woodlands, the capital level was at 32%. “This is a paper mill town,” Collia explained. “The mill had been there forever and ever.” However, the mill has appeared near closing for some time and the neighboring pulp mill was closed just in May. “The capital was built up because of the uncertainty of that industry,” he said. The paper mill had even closed temporarily in 2001. The credit union since has taken steps to diversify by converting to a community charter serving the four northernmost counties-Coos, Carroll, Grafton, and Belknap-which are also the least affluent in the state. Woodlands’ headquarters is located in the poorest of the four counties, he added. Having extra capital does provide opportunities as well. He said the credit union is able to charge lower fees than its peers and is in informal discussions with a troubled credit union about a possible merger. Collia pointed out that if that does occur it will further diversify the credit union. The extra capital also helps “keep the regulators at ease,” he said. Collia said he and the board are working to get its capital level down around 25% through expansion of loan products, staff and branches. Through these efforts the now $79 million credit union has also increased its assets over the last three-plus years by $13 million and grown its membership from 9,000 to 12,600. The CEO also emphasized Woodlands’ member service surveys turn up a 98% member satisfaction rating. The credit union offers a variety of loans from mortgages to share secured as well as CDs starting at $500.

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