Gesa to open new Pasco branch, improve Richland headquarters

Road 100 branch to feature 7,000 square feet; $645,000 in improvements planned at headquarters

Gesa Credit Union will open its 18th branch this summer in Pasco.

Construction on the $2 million project already has begun on the two-acre plot of land at 4824 Broadmoor Blvd.

Kennewick-based Banlin Construction is the general contractor for the project.

“We’re all framed up and we’re working on roofing at this point,” said Richard Waddle, Gesa’s senior vice president of finance and marketing.

The new branch will be about 7,000 square feet, with 3,000 square feet allocated for full-service banking and a drive-thru.

The remaining 4,000 square feet within the building will consist of two tenant units available for lease. 

“We’re going to be doing short-term leases on those units because if we need to add more home loan and mortgage officers, we’ll be able to move into that space,” Waddle said.

Dromos Architecture LLC in Wenatchee designed the building, which is similar in style to the Gesa branches in Moses Lake and Yakima.

Gesa has begun to hire a management team for the new location. About seven to eight full-time employees will be hired for the branch.

The credit union has experienced tremendous growth since opening in 1953, especially in the last 13 years, said Waddle, who joined the team straight out of college in 1996.

“I graduated on a Saturday and started at Gesa on a Monday,” he said with a laugh.

At that time, Gesa had only a handful of branches. Today the landscape in the Tri-Cities in much different.

“And we’ve also grown outside the Tri-Cities. The first place was Wenatchee and Walla Walla. Those were both merger opportunities,” Waddle said. “A lot of our moving to new communities has been through mergers, and we love to do it that way because you have a built-in membership base—anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000. And typically, within one to two years, we’ve doubled their asset base.”

Although the Road 100 location is not a merger, it was a necessity for the west Pasco area, Waddle said. Gesa bought the land before buying the property for its Road 68 branch in anticipation of the residential and commercial growth in the vicinity.

“We’ve bought the Road 100 property knowing that area would take off, then something opened up on Road 68 and Sandifur (Parkway),” said Waddle, adding that the Road 68 location has been one of the company’s fastest growing branches. “We’re at the point where on a Friday afternoon there’s no parking for our members and the drive-thru lane is backing up.”

Adding the Road 100 location should alleviate the swell of business at the Road 68 branch, he explained.

Gesa’s headquarters at 51 Gage Blvd. in Richland also are undergoing $645,000 in improvements to accommodate growth, including remodeling and relocating support team staff to better serve customers.

“We’re basically tapped out the headquarters,” Waddle said. “We have training rooms on the first floor, and we’ve moved them to a different location and put home loan and commercial staff on the first floor.”

Back-office staff, such as human resources, technology and other support staff who aren’t face-to-face with customers will be moved to the second floor.

The Richland headquarters also will get new flooring and paint during the transition.

Gesa was founded by General Electric, a major contractor for the Hanford site. In 1997, the company became a community-chartered credit union and opens its doors to serve anyone who lives, works or worships in Washington state. Today, the credit union has more than 165,000 members, including thousands of members in western Washington.

Gesa is making its presence known even more on the coastal side of the state with a merger that could be the largest in Washington credit union history. This past fall, Gesa announced the merger of Inspirus Credit Union based in Tukwila.

Inspirus was founded in 1936 and ranked as the state’s second largest credit union by 1960. The company has six locations, $1.3 billion in assets and 80,000 members.

Gesa has 30,000 members living in western Washington, and Waddle said this merger would allow Gesa to better serve customers with the additional locations Inspirus branches would provide.

“If the merger comes to fruition, it will really give us a statewide presence,” Waddle said. “Over time, we want to become a Pacific Northwest credit union.”

Regardless of where it is located, Waddle acknowledged Gesa has no immediate plans to change its name.

“As long as you take care of your members, you can go with any name,” he said. Gesa is waiting on regulatory approval about the merger with Inspirus, and the credit union hopes to make an announcement on the decision by the end of this year.

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