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Voyageur's Best Features of 2005

Darla Wayrynen

A big day for the MEMBERS
Members Coop has a new building
by Michelle Johnson  |  February 8, 2005

The building is finished and the move into the new office was made on January 10. To celebrate these accomplishments, Members Cooperative Credit Union in McGregor celebrated with a week full of festivities beginning with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, January 31. Members Cooperative is a fully functional credit union with many new features, but it’s emphasis of putting the member first remains a constant.

“We pride ourselves on service which meets or exceeds the needs of our members,” said Darla Wayrynen, Branch Manager of 20 years. “Del Prevost, the CEO of Members Cooperative Credit Union, knew that the new building was needed to help facilitate servicing the members. He’s the one that said ‘yes’ to the building project.”

“There was enthusiasm from the community to place the credit union in McGregor,” said Del. “The new offices provide expanded drive-through lanes, a larger lobby and more Member Service Representatives to assist members. State of the art technology is available to speed and enhance transactions which guards the security of the member. The new offices used ecologically friendly materials and a design to protect our environment.”

The new Members Cooperative Credit Union building is three times larger than the double wide trailer that had been its home for the past 20 years. There are four teller windows including one that is handicap accessible. The two lane drive up includes a lane accessible to a drive up ATM. The sidewalk encasing the building is heated for additional safety to members. Offices for a Mortgage Loan Originator, Members Financial Services and a Commercial Lender are housed in the building. These services are available to members by appointment only. New to this branch, as well, is the addition of safe-deposit boxes, available in four different sizes for a yearly rental rate.

Credit Unions as a whole can be defined as member-owned and not-for-profit. People who join and become members pool their savings and are able to help each other through lending, obtaining financial services and owning a share of the credit union.

Each Credit Union has a field of membership and to be able to join a new member must qualify under that type. Credit Unions come in three types: employee based, associational, or community based. The difference between the three is simple. Employee based Credit Unions are made up of members with common employment environments. Examples are Teachers’ Credit Union or Potlatch, which have credit unions established, with their employees as their members.

The Members Cooperative Credit Union formerly known as Cloquet Coop Credit Union was an example in previous years of an associational credit union. Each member was required to belong to a sponsoring cooperative, such as Mille Lacs Electric Coop, Lake Country Power or CAP-Trico.

In 1985, the McGregor Branch of the Cromwell Community Credit Union was opened; and as its name implies, this Credit Union was community based and membership was open to individuals residing in the Cromwell and McGregor School districts. In 1993, Cromwell Community Credit Union merged into Cloquet Coop Credit Union and thus the Credit Union was both a community and associational credit union. Thereafter, the Credit Union changed its name to Members Cooperative Credit Union as it had grown far beyond Cloquet.

In 2002 the Credit Union became a full community based credit union with it’s membership being people who reside and work in the seven counties forming the Arrowhead Region of Northeastern Minnesota, including the counties of Aitkin, Carlton and Itasca. Offices are located in McGregor, Aitkin, Cloquet and Duluth. The Credit Union employs 130 people.

“Area folks have certainly embraced the Members Coop Credit Union,” said Del. “It has grown to be the largest Credit Union north of the Twin Cities. Making the switch to become a full community credit union in 2002 was a positive move for the residents of our communities as this change made it possible for the Credit Union to be more inclusive. More people are now allowed the opportunity to join and enjoy the benefits that are offered.” Del concluded. “The human relationship is the wealth of life. The friendly and personalized service we’ve built our reputation on is still our ultimate goal in serving the members each and every day.” He also extends this good will to include the employees he oversees.

“We are very fortunate to have Del Prevost as our CEO,” said Darla. “He genuinely cares about each employee as well as the Credit Union and it’s members.”

“Personal relationships are how the coop works,” said Del. “This includes our employees.”

This article first appeared in the February 8, 2005 issue of the Voyageur Press.