While OneAZ Credit Union is known as a leader in giving back to the communities it serves, you might be surprised to learn that an Arizona icon helped start it 70 years ago.
“I think it’s very, very interesting that we originated 70 years ago down at the state capitol when six or seven people got together and decided state employees needed a credit union,” says Kim Reedy, president and CEO of OneAZ Credit Union. “One of those founding members was former Arizona Gov. Rose Mofford.”
Mofford was a key supporter of the formation of the credit union in 1951 and was instrumental in spreading the word with both elected officials and state employees at all levels. She served as chair of the credit union’s board, which helped shape the course of the financial institution.
“It just started with them and a vision on how to help state employees be able to finance things and have a place to save their money,” Reedy says. “It was very successful, and bloomed and bloomed. I think, originally, there was no branch. The money and the deposits were kept in a shoe box.”
Things have changed a lot since then. Today, OneAZ Credit Union is the largest state-chartered, federally insured credit union in Arizona with more than 150,000 members and $2.8 billion in assets. It is also celebrating its 70th anniversary.
Az Business sat down with Reedy and members of the OneAZ Credit Union executive team to talk about the impact the credit union has had — and is having — on the state.
Az Business: What do you see as some of the most significant milestones for OneAZ?
Kim Reedy: In 2016, a major change happened for us. We applied for a statewide charter, which gave us the ability to serve all Arizona citizens. And at that same time, we changed our name from Arizona State Credit Union to OneAZ to signify, we can help everybody in the state. Our mission is to help improve lives. That’s what we do. And I think the name change was very significant.
AB: What are some other recent milestones?
KR: Over the last three or four years, we have made tremendous technological improvements. We’ve also changed to a culture that is market driven. We want to help Arizonans, so we go out to help them find us so we can improve. We’ve been adding members over the last three years at record pace. We’re expected to have more than 150,000 members by the end of the year. We fully believe that we’ll have 250,000 members in five years. I think that’s a big milestone for us.
AB: To what do you attribute that growth?
KR: I think it’s our philosophy and our mission. We see ourselves as being here to help improve your lives, and we have custom products to help you do that. We have great people who work here, and we ask them to be objective, do the right thing and always give us their best thinking. If we do those things and we have a true desire to help people improve their lives, we’re going to be successful and it’s starting to show.
AB: How has technology impacted your growth and mission?
KR: Oh, my gosh, in many, many ways. Who would have ever thought your entire banking package is right there on the phone and in your pocket? But technology has helped us serve a broad array of different demographics and access points. We are very data- and science-driven. We analyze the marketplace and know how things work, so I believe one of our true core strengths and competitive advantages is knowing the data, knowing the information and really knowing what the different demographic groups in the marketplace would like for us to help them with. And technology helps us do that.
AB: One of the things that OneAZ is known for is its incredible company culture. How do you maintain that while also utilizing technology as well as you do?
KR: We have relationship banking. If you open a new account, one of our associates is going to reach out and have a conversation with you. Sure, we’ll do a lot of things by email to make life easier for you. We want to be high-touch and we want to be relationship-based. Loan requests do not go to New York City or Charlotte, N.C. We — I, and our team — will go to the office of a business member in Cottonwood, for instance, to talk about their business and how we can help them. And not just how we can help their business, but also how the credit union can assist their employees.
AB: How about the internal company culture?
Laura Worzella, executive vice president and chief retail officer: I wanted to come to OneAZ because I believed in its vision and its mission. It is very member focused, very member-centric. It is also very engaged with its associates. Coming to work is fun. You get to come in and we get to take care of our associates and the communities we serve. OneAZ really embodies that culture, and we work hard every day to make that happen.
AB: What made you want to bring your talents to OneAZ?
Mike Boden, executive vice president, CFO and COO: I’ve actually been a member for 25 years, so having a relationship through my personal banking needs is what attracted me to OneAZ. Professionally, seeing the culture and the environment in which to thrive really attracted to me to come to work for the credit union seven years ago. That’s what Kim has created at OneAZ as the CEO: a true opportunity for people to reach their potential.
AB: One of the things that is very impressive about your organization is how much you have given back to the community. Why is that so important to you and to OneAZ?
KR: It goes right to our mission. Our board of directors and senior executive team decided they want to be an institution that truly exists to improve the lives of our members, associates and the communities that we serve. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s not the banking activity. We’re here to help people. Through the OneAZ Community Foundation, we have given more than $600,000 in grants to nonprofits across the state. The foundation’s giving is guided by five pillars of support: children’s health, financial education, food banks, veterans’ issues, and local youth programs.
AB: I know we are looking back and talking about the credit union’s 70th anniversary, but looking forward, do you have any goals you’re hoping to achieve over the next few years?
KR: Yes. I haven’t spoken about this one and I’m sure our board would love this. This year we’ll probably put somewhere around $300,000 into community giving through the foundation. In five years, that number should be $1 million. I would love to have that happen. And I’d also love to have 250,000 members here at OneAZ Credit Union. We want to serve all Arizonans. We are making good progress in having fair representation of all demographic groups. Our new membership is absolutely balanced, and we want to continue that. Finally, technology has helped a lot, but we would like to have more branch presence in underserved areas and be able to make even more of a difference to residents of Arizona than we do now.