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Pooler Magazine

Georgia Heritage Federal Credit Union: Making a Positive Difference

Georgia Heritage Federal Credit Union (GHFCU) President and CEO Dale Taratuta recently sat down with Effingham Magazine to talk about GHFCU.

What is the history of Georgia Heritage Federal Credit Union? GHFCU was formed in 1940 to serve the employees of Union Bag, which was later called Union Camp, and now, International Paper. In 2006, the Credit Union received a community charter which gives us the ability to serve anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Chatham, Effingham, or Bryan Counties. We are the oldest locally-owned credit union in the area.

What is the difference between a credit union and a bank? Credit unions offer many of the same products and services as banks, however the biggest difference is that credit unions are owned and governed by its members, where most banks are owned by shareholders. Because of this, credit unions are not driven to meet profit expectations, but we are driven by service. So, in general, credit unions can offer better loan and deposit rates, lower fees, and better service. Our focus is on the individual, not the shareholder.

We call our customers “members,” since they are actually the owners of the Credit Union. Each person who joins the Credit Union becomes a member by opening a savings account with a $5 deposit.

How long have you been the CEO at GHFCU? I joined GHFCU at the beginning of 2010 as the CFO and I became the President/CEO in early 2012. It has been very rewarding helping the Credit Union grow from 1 branch to 4 branches and increase our size and membership by over 50% during that time period.

What is GHFCU’s mission statement? When we sat down a few years ago to look at our mission statement, we really wanted to define ourselves and what we stand for. After many meetings and much discussion, we created our mission statement: “Making a positive difference for our members and the communities we serve.” We wanted our mission to be more than just financial services, we want to make a positive difference in our community and to our members. That can be accomplished through financial services, or sometimes it can be something as simple as a smile to brighten someone’s day.

What are the most pressing challenges that leaders are facing today? And why? There are many challenges that we all face. One big challenge is keeping up with technology. Technology continues to change and advance at a high rate. As a leader, you need to keep up with the changes in technology and make good decisions on selecting the technology that will best benefit your members and staff. As a leader, you are constantly dealing with crises and change. How you handle those situations can define your leadership career.

How important is community involvement to an organizational culture? Since we are locally owned, community involvement is extremely important to GHFCU. We strive to give back to our communities by making it part of our credit union culture. Each year, our staff has participated in ten or more local events and we make donations to many local community organizations. Georgia Heritage also provides two college scholarships to local high school seniors.

Georgia Heritage truly lives up to its mission statement: “Making a positive difference for our members and the communities we serve.” Visit a branch and find out how they can serve you!

LOCATIONS:

Lathrop Branch & Main Office: 1085 West Lathrop Ave, Savannah Stephenson Branch: 200 Stephenson Ave., Suite 100, Savannah Pooler Branch: 102 Park Ave., Pooler Rincon Branch: 5745 Hwy 21 South, Rincon www.gaheritagefcu.org (912) 236-4400 & (800) 442-8877

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