Ent Credit Union has added to its growing list of awards and recognitions with Forbes Magazine’s designation as the best credit union in Colorado. And according to Victoria Selfridge, vice president of corporate communication, the credit union’s success comes down to one simple, but important principle — their staff. “We try to find the right person, the right place, at the right time,” says Selfridge.
“Forbes is a close second to The Gazette’s designation,” said Matt Gendron, chief engagement officer at Ent, of the credit union’s achievement. “As we move to other communities, we’d like to replicate what we’ve been able to achieve in Colorado Springs. We’d like to be the best credit union in Denver someday … the Rocky Mountain region!”
In 1957, Ent Credit Union was chartered to serve the community of Ent Air Force Base. As more military bases were located in the Pikes Peak area, the credit union expanded to meet the needs of Peterson, Schriever (formerly Falcon) and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Bases.
After several mergers in the 1980s and others between 2001 and 2008, Ent Credit Union expanded to serve members in Aurora, Firestone, Denver and Pueblo. As of September 2018, Ent Credit Union has more than 330,000 members, $5.4 billion in assets and 32 locations.
“We were just awarded by the Department of Natural Services six more counties that we can do business in in the state of Colorado, which effectively takes us up to the Wyoming border,” said Gendron. “In the next 10 years, we will have upwards of 50 locations in Colorado to serve our membership.”
The years of mergers have done nothing but strengthen Ent Credit Union, says Gendron. “The employees we acquired, we guaranteed everybody a job. Where there was replication, we offered alternative employment — as far as a different type of job. Whenever a merger has happened, we’ve felt good about the excitement about entering a new market and, more importantly, having a more robust workforce. When you have new people looking at your organization it’s always helpful to us.”
According to Sharie Flanagan, senior vice president of human resources, the core tenants of Ent Credit Union have not changed in 60 years of being in business. “Our business as a cooperative financial institution has remained unchanged through all of these years. Our core values are to be member-centric, and we put the member at the heart of everything we do. We also strive to be forward thinking — technology trends and where people are moving and living so we can better serve them.”
Selfridge added, “We encourage our employees to be a part of the community. We have a volunteer time-off program that encourages our employees to go volunteer for the organization of their choosing.”
Ent’s professional development program includes partnering with the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, to pay for a 6-month, classroom-based leadership development program for 30 of the credit union’s rising stars.
“We’ve partnered with the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and thirty of our rising stars in our leadership development program for a six-month classroom experience for selected middle-management and senior management folks to give them leadership perspective from the higher education level,” said Gendron.
“We budget significant money annually to support local and statewide organizations. We support Pueblo, Denver and Pikes Peak United Ways. We have several senior management that sit on boards in Colorado Springs: Discover Goodwill, Catholic Charities, Care and Share, Boy Scouts, YMCA, Pikes Peak Workforce,” said Gendron. “You can hardly go to an event in Colorado Springs without somebody from Ent being there. We believe that the communities where we reside, we aren’t there to take, we are there to give back. We are proud to do that on behalf of our membership.”
When asked what Ent’s biggest achievement is Selfridge summed it up perfectly: “Having a mission and a purpose that you can feel inspired by, gets you to the office, working with great people, makes it fun to keep coming back, and in turn having an organization that supports you and the things in your community that you are passionate about, is icing on the cake.”