By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
At the close of business Friday, Feb. 14, at 5:01 p.m., Central Minnesota Credit Union (CMCU) had officially acquired St. Francis Campus Credit Union in Little Falls.
The process of notifying the 3,500 St. Francis members began with an automatic phone message. That message indicated the bank would open Tuesday, following the weekend and Presidents Day.
“This was like lightning quick,” said CMCU CEO and President Rick Odenthal. “It came out of the blue.”
Odenthal said CMCU was contacted by the National Credit Union Administration about the acquisition when “irregularities” were found with St. Francis Campus Credit Union; but that’s all he knew, he said.
“They really took a sincere look at this,” said Odenthal. “Their first concern was the members and how you take care of them. From a professional standpoint, it’s great to know an agency like that has confidence in us.”
The process started Tuesday with what Odenthal called “the best and the brightest” staff from other CMCU branches serving customers at its Little Falls Broadway office, and at the office of the former St. Francis Campus Credit Union, on Third Street Southeast.
The additional staff was added to handle the volume, and “To reassure people their money is safe and secured,” said Odenthal.
Customers were mailed statements and packets to review and are welcome to stop in at either Little Falls office to ask questions. Anyone who sees something that they feel “just isn’t right” is asked to come in, said Odenthal.
He said people are finding they are getting more services than they initially had like mobile banking, bank by phone, remote deposit capture. “Take a picture of the check with cellphone and it’s done,” he said. “We have a lot more products and services.”
Although Odenthal said CMCU wanted to make the process as seamless as possible, one thing that wasn’t transferred immediately were debit cards.
“We do have the ability to provide instant-issue credit and debit cards at the Broadway office,” said Odenthal. “We brought in other resources, so that in a period of five – 10 minutes, members could get a new debit card, instead of the seven – 10 day wait.”
All indications are right now the former St. Francis office will stay open, said Odenthal. “We have no immediate plans to close the office,” he said, although CMCU doesn’t own the former St. Francis building.
Several of the employees at the former St. Francis Campus Credit Union have been offered positions and several have stayed. “That’s good,” said Odenthal.
“Is it going to be like old place? No, but I hope they’ll still see a friendly face and get to know our people,” he said.
“From my perspective, I’m very honored that they would consider us to do this because of the way our operation is run,” said Odenthal.
CMCU was founded in 1939 and is the sixth largest Minnesota credit union with assets of more than $750 million. It has 16 branch locations in Little Falls, Melrose, Albany, Grey Eagle, Freeport, Paynesville, Sauk Centre, St. Joseph, Cold Spring, Long Prairie, Avon, Belgrade, New York Mills, Perham, Moorhead and Wadena.
“We’re large enough to be big, but small enough to be personal — that’s the goal of our organization,” said Odenthal. “We don’t need to be a big bank; we need to be committed to hometown and accessible, regardless of who or what we are.”
St. Francis Campus Credit Union remains under investigation.
The Department of Justice prohibits comments or updates on active investigations.