TULLAHOMA, Tenn. — AEDC Federal Credit Union is reaching new heights with a new name–Ascend Federal Credit Union.

“We are no longer a one-room operation at Arnold Air Force Base serving one core group,” Ascend FCU President/CEO Caren Gabriel said. “This credit union serves members in more than 600 companies. Including our administrative office in Tullahoma, we have 14 facilities in seven counties. We have changed our name to better reflect who we are, the companies we serve, and where we’re going.”

The name change stemmed from research conducted over the past two years of the credit union’s markets, members and competitors that revealed that many thought they had to work at Arnold Air Force Base to join.

Over a dozen names were considered, but Ascend kept rising to the top as one with which both members and potential members could best connect. Ascend also represents the credit union’s continued growth while nodding to the it’s roots. AEDC FCU was formed in 1951 to serve the employees of Arnold Engineering Development Center at Arnold Air Force Base. Today, it serves more than 120,000 members. “When we were considering this name, we saw the opportunity to incorporate aeronautical imagery into our new logo, which ties us to the base. Plus, you can’t spell ‘Ascend’ without A-E-D-C,” said Ascend FCU Board Chairman Steve Passarello.

Like many credit unions revamping their brand image, the new name is just one of many changes designed to better serve members from renovating branches to creating memorable member experiences. Gabriel said credit union employees are currently in the process of transitioning from being order takers to offering members a branded retail experience.

“Our new tagline is ‘Raising Possibilities,’” Gabriel said. “All that we do to define and differentiate ourselves from other financial institutions will come from this. We want to help our members recognize and raise the possibilities as we help them with personal financial solutions.”

Plans are also underway to expand the branch network and create a consistent brand image in the community. Along with a new name, service philosophy and financial centers, Ascend is also once again giving money back to its members.

Last year, for the first time in its history, the credit union paid a bonus dividend and loan interest refund totaling $2 million to its membership. This year, the bonus dividend and loan interest refund will be $3 million.

“Time brings both changes and opportunities. No matter how our members’ lives change, we want to be the resource they turn to whenever they need financial service,” said Gabriel. “As Ascend Federal Credit Union, we look forward to the opportunity of helping our members recognize and raise the possibilities.” –mdigiovanni@cutimes.com