Tri-Cities Community Federal Credit Union announced its new name this month and soon the company will get a new home.
The credit union is now called Tri-CU (pronounced Tri-Q) as announced during a recent ground-breaking ceremony for a 8,300-square-foot building at 3213 W. 19th Ave. in Kennewick.
The new headquarters will be almost triple the square footage of the credit union’s current location at 2626 W. Kennewick Ave.
Doug Wadsworth, who has served as the president of Tri-CU for almost a decade, said construction will take about 11 months. If all goes as planned, the employees hope to move in early next fall.
“It all depends on the winter,” he said. “We want to get our foundation in within the next month or so.”
Tri-CU was founded in 1969 as International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 112, Federal Credit Union, serving local IBEW union electricians and their families. In the mid-80s, it became known as Kennewick Community Federal Credit Union, and in 2009, the name evolved to encompass the Tri-Cities.
But when the credit union surveyed its nearly 6,000 members, Wadsworth said it was evident the long name was confusing.
“We asked (members) to put down the name of our credit union, and there were like 20 different versions of our name. So we said, ‘OK, we see an opportunity. It needs to be shortened and simplified,’” said Wadsworth. “We had a strong brand already, so we didn’t want to totally change the name. It feels similar to our long name, just short and easy. And we sponsor things often, like Little League teams, so it has to be one word for cheering.”
With the help of P.S. Media Inc., Tri-CU chose two colors for a new logo: blue that represents dependability and trust, and orange to signify friendliness.
When the logo and name were announced Oct. 11, Tri-CU rolled out a new website, Facebook page and sent a newsletter to members about the future move.
The new building, across from Southgate Elementary School, will cost almost $3 million. It was designed by Terence L. Thornhill Architect Inc. of Pasco. DGR Grant Construction of Richland is the general contractor.
The headquarters will be one story and feature a big, open lobby. The design also includes miniature teller counters, Wadsworth said, where tellers can walk around the edge of the counter to chat with customers.
“We’ll have open, round desks so tellers can stand next to members. Not bank-ish long lines. It’s all about being interactive,” he said.
In the company’s 2017 summer survey, Tri-CU discovered members value the local, service-oriented atmosphere but one feature customers really wanted was an ATM.
Currently Tri-CU offers a network of free ATM uses in the Tri-Cities and across the nation, such as the machines inside Safeway, 7-Eleven stores and most gas stations. Wadsworth said they’re excited to be able to meet the needs of their members with an ATM at the new location.
“We’ve had a lot of people gravitate here because they do not want to deal with a big bank atmosphere. We keep it family-oriented and, in addition to that, we’re able to provide all the bells and whistles that the big guys do. We’re able to stay cutting edge, so it’s a win-win.”
Wadsworth said a lot of the small credit unions are struggling right now because of regulatory burdens and the demand for technology.
There are about 50 credit unions, including Tri-CU, in the Northwest with assets under $50 million.
“We’re one of the strongest credit unions of our size, and because we are healthy, it allows us to build this new building that will be more spacious and convenient for our members,” he said.
In the lobby, Tri-CU will feature community artwork. The company also is working with the city of Kennewick to display artwork outside the building—similar to the kind seen in the middle of local roundabouts.
Parking will increase from about 10 spaces to 65.
And while lobby traffic has not grown significantly in the last six years, membership has doubled in size because more people are doing their banking online.
“We don’t have to build a whole bunch of new branches, and we’ll save money for better products, services and lower fees,” he said, explaining that Tri-CU’s existing building will not be turned into a second location.
The credit union has a 40-year lease from IBEW for the Kennewick Avenue location and the lease expires in two years.
“It worked out nicely because we’ve outgrown this building,” he said.
Tri-CU has about a dozen employees but will hire more as it continues to grow. The credit union handles mortgages and customer loans and has roughly $40 million in assets.
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