Idaho Central Credit Union headquarters prepares to double in sizeJan 11th, 2017 | By Sarah Glenn | Category: Featured
By Sarah Glenn
For the Journal
$30 million campus expansion aims to open early 2019
CHUBBUCK – From the fourth floor window of Idaho Central Credit Union’s Chubbuck headquarters, Kent Oram looks out over acres of new construction. When the dust settles in early 2019, the credit union’s headquarters will more than double in size – a $30 million investment in a growth trend that continues to climb.
“We are growing because we are a popular financial alternative in the marketplace,” said Oram, ICCU’s president and CEO. “We are a good place to do business and I think that we provide good customer service. People who talk to their family and friends bring them to us.”
A new IT center, employee gym, offices for the facilities department and a new call center are all a part of the expansion – all needed because of double digit banking product growth.
“With that growth, we are growing in every facet from home lending, mortgage lending, deposit processing, payments, anything you can think of we are growing double digits,” Oram said. “It just takes people.”
In Chubbuck, where the business started, some credit union staff are now doubling up on desks. They moved into their existing headquarters with 107 people; today, that building holds about 400 employees. In the coming years, as the campus expansion nears completion, ICCU plans to more than 100 more.
“We have been hiring about 50-75 team members per year and we plan to continue at about that pace,” said ICCU spokesperson Laura Smith.
The Chubbuck-based credit union has been on track, or exceeding national and state credit union growth trends. Nationally, among credit unions, Idaho is standing out in membership growth. Over the year ending in the third quarter of 2016, Idaho had the highest median membership growth rate (2.3 percent), followed by Alaska (2.1 percent), according to the National Credit Union Administration.
Looking to the Future
As their market share grew, ICCU looked northward and started buying up land.
Two years ago, ICCU quietly started acquiring properties around their Chubbuck campus. There was an old cabinet shop on Burley Drive and Evans Avenue whose owner was ready to retire and sell. They bought at least four houses and a empty commercial lot. There was a horse pasture.
“This started about two years ago and we finished up about a year ago,” said Dustee Woolstenhulme, ICCU’s project analyst.
Then the bulldozers rumbled to life and the building farthest to the north started to rise from the dirt. When it is finished it will add 27,000 square feet to the campus.
Woolstenhulme explained that the northernmost building will have an expanded gym and health center on the bottom floor for employees. Eight treadmills will sit among 20 total pieces of cardio equipment with weight machines dotting the middle of the floor.
“What employees are in right now is a little bit of a cave – you don’t get to look out the windows when you are working out,” Woolstenhulme said of ICCU’s existing employee gym. “This one has a lot better view for folks working out there.”
In the new facility, an empty room for aerobics sits on its own. New locker rooms will almost double in size.
Upstairs in that building, the facilities team will have new offices.
Although expansive, the facilities building pales in comparison to the next structure that will begin to rise from the campus dirt in 2017. The new building will sit just south of the facilities and gym building.
A new Information Technology (IT) building will add 76,500 square feet spread across two floors. For comparison, the existing ICCU headquarters is about 69,000 square feet stacked into four floors.
“When the next building starts coming out of the ground people are going to go ‘wow’ something is going on there,” Oram said.
The digital banking boom
As ICCU reacts to changes in technology and an ever-advancing trend towards online banking, it is expanding and updating its information technology department. The first floor of the largest building in the ICCU expansion will hum with servers and IT professionals who will spend their days cinching up security and privacy.
“We really pride ourselves on member privacy and security and taking care of people’s data,” Oram said. “We are pretty good now but we are going to be at a whole other level once this is done. Members should feel really good about that.”
A new network of generators and failsafes will aim to make the fortress impenetrable to power outages and computer glitches.
“People in Coeur d’Alene don’t care if the power is out in Bannock County,” Oram said. “So we are just trying to make it so that a member in Idaho, no matter where they may be, can get us if they need us. Right now that’s pretty true but when we move in there it’s going to be pretty certain.”
Their existing IT building was constructed in the 1970s and, according to Oram, it has outlived its usefulness.
On the floor above the IT center, ICCU will set up a new call center, filled with 350 desks.
“That’s high priority space,” Woolstenhulme said. “The whole purpose of that (building) is that we don’t drop calls when we are serving our members.”
The entire second floor will be filled with computers and customer service representatives.
“When we move into the new building they are going to move into their own space, eliminating all sorts of redundancies and adding a few failsafes and new amenities,” Oram said.
The expanded call center aims to get ahead of a trend in consumer banking – everyone is moving online.
Four in 10 Americans haven’t visited a branch in the last six months, according to a 2016 Bankrate Financial Security Index survey. If the Bankrate survey’s trends hold true, almost half of all Americans will be doing their banking online, on their phone or at ATMs in 2017.
“Financial services are moving more electronic and as that happens then it puts pressure on the headquarters that we need more folks behind the scenes,” Oram said. “So that’s kind of the pressure that financial institutions are responding to right now – consolidation of the back office. We see that’s what’s happening here too.”
Why do you need all of this?
As Americans wrung their hands through the Great Recession, ICCU opened it’s Chubbuck headquarters. The 69,000 square foot building was a grand accomplishment for the credit union in 2007. It was a $15 million investment that was bigger than the staff needed at the time.
“I remember thinking we would never fill it,” Woolstenhulme said, remembering the day that they moved into their existing headquarters.
He wasn’t alone.
At the time, the credit union’s CEO didn’t think finishing the top floor of the building was an immediate priority. Oram, who was at that time the credit union’s executive vice president, didn’t agree.
“I went to my boss, who was the CEO at the time, and said we need to finish the third floor and we have got to do it right now,” Oram said. “So we were able to regroup and get it done. It was little bit of work but we got it done.”
The third floor push was almost prophetic.
Since Oram became CEO in 2007 and that third floor was finished, ICCU has tripled its employees.
“When I started as CEO in 2007, I have been here 32 years, but I became CEO in 2007 and we had 268 employees (statewide),” Oram said.
Today, ICCU employs 810 team members statewide across 29 branches.
“So we have tripled in that regard,” Oram said.
Most of the financial products that the credit union offers are growing in double digits, Oram added.
“Were stronger probably in mortgage growth, lending,” Oram said. “We are stronger in checking account growth and regular old savings growth than we are in products like money market savings and things like that.”
ICCU isn’t alone. Nationally, credit unions are growing (mostly in lending) by double digits. An early 2016 report from the Washington-based consulting firm Callahan & Associates showed early credit union data trending toward double-digit loan growth in 2015 for the seventh consecutive quarter by more than 10 percent.
The report projected year-over-year loan growth for the past year at 10.6 percent based on 85 percent of credit unions that had reported thus far. While total loan growth is up by 23 basis points from the same time last year, the Credit Union Times the reports a decline in some categories. Auto loans, credit cards and student loans decreased from the year prior at 1.7 percent, 1.7 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.
In Idaho, the median loan-to-shares ratio was second highest in the nation, according to National Credit Union Administration reports. The median loans-to-shares ratio was highest in Alaska (87 percent) followed by Idaho (86 percent).
ICCU is also growing. According to their website, Idaho Central reached $100 million in assets in 1997, and $500 million nine years later in 2006. By 2012 the Credit Union reached over $1 billion in asset size, and $2 billion in asset size in 2015.
“Luckily our credit union is strong financially and the investment doesn’t put us in any kind of risk at all,” Oram said. “We are examined and regulated pretty tightly, so its well within our budgetary capacities to build this.”
The existing headquarters cost about $15 million to build, making the campus expansion the biggest in Chubbuck headquarters history.
“I don’t know anything else,” Oram said. “We have always grown fast since I’ve been here. Sometimes, less fast than we are right now. It’s always going to be fast comparatively. I don’t worry about it. Sometimes people tell me I should but I don’t, it’s just how I go. That’s not without its challenges and pains though. Now and then we have to look back and say whops we shouldn’t have done that, there things like that that happen. But growing quickly is just what we do. The other day somebody said, what if we need to slow down our growth and I responded that I’m not the CEO for that – I don’t know how to do that.”