The story of East Traverse Catholic Federal Credit Union begins in 1950, when a group of employees at Parts Manufacturing Company in Traverse City, received a federal charter to form a credit union for their company. One employee, Lawrence Weber, and his wife, Ann, willingly took on the large responsibility of running the credit union out of their own home, receiving no compensation and working on their own time to keep the credit union running. In 1955, the manufacturing company became Mills Manufacturing Company and in turn, the credit union changed its name. Mills, however, was closed down in 1956, leaving the credit union without a home but full of members who desired to keep it alive. Lawrence and Ann, determined to find a home for their credit union, approached the Reverend Joseph Kohler of St. Francis Catholic Church about an affiliation to become a Catholic credit union. As the parishioners of St. Francis had been asking to form a credit union for their parish, the Weber’s timing could not have been better! Fr. Kohler agreed and received approval, allowing the credit union to open its doors under a new name on April 7, 1957 as East Traverse Catholic Federal Credit Union.
By 1960, East Traverse was becoming better known throughout the community. Membership was growing and by 1963, plans were completed for a new office building on Cass Street in Traverse City. As the credit union moved to the new location in 1964, business continued to grow and contributed to reaching a milestone of $1 million in assets in 1965. The Webers continued to give of themselves and believed firmly in the philosophy of putting members first. As they claimed, “Determination and hard work is the key to success in any credit union … each member must be treated as an individual, not as an account number.”
With the 1970’s came new technologies, including online data processing, which enabled the credit union to serve its members even better than before. By 1979, membership had grown to 3,800 and assets totaled over $5,000,000. A goal was set by the dedicated staff of East Traverse to become the largest parish credit union in the area! It seemed that with their growing numbers, they were set to do just that. Also in late 1979, Lawrence Weber made the decision to retire as manager of the credit union, handing the title over to Leonard Classens.
In 1986, East Traverse had grown out of its offices and moved again to its present home on Veterans Drive. Here, it continued to grow steadily and reached its 40th anniversary in 1990. The next expansion took place in October of 1994, when ETCFCU merged with the members of Leelanau Catholic Credit Union. With the addition of accounts from Lake Leelanau, the assets of ETCFCU had then reached $22,882,775, with 6,456 members and a staff of 20 employees.
ETCFCU then saw many technological advances for the credit union. Among them was a contract with a new online data processor, which enabled members to access their accounts at other select credit unions who used the same system, “Shared Branching.” Shared Branching was and is, an arrangement providing East Traverse members even more locations to access their accounts! Through Shared Branching, East Traverse was also able to open a shared office with TBA Credit Union from 1998 to 2009. This endeavor was a first for the area and only the second of its kind in the state!
In 2010, ETCFCU celebrated 60 years of serving its members, the parishioners of numerous Catholic parishes in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties, a membership of 7,290. A few years later, in December of 2014, CEO Leonard Classens retired after 40 years of service to the Credit Union and handed over the leadership reigns to Gregory Gurka.
As the credit union industry continued to grow, competition became more challenging as well. In September of 2015, at $50 million in assets, ETCFCU’s management and Board of Directors felt that serving only Catholic members in the area placed restrictions on the future growth of the Credit Union. To ensure a healthy future of the Credit Union, ETC decided to open the membership charter to accept any persons who live, work, worship, or attend school in and businesses and other legal entities located in Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska or Leelanau Counties, Michigan; and also included are spouses of persons who died while within the field of membership of this credit union, employees of this credit union, volunteers in the community, members of their immediate families, and organizations of such persons.
ETC will continue to serve its members with the same Catholic culture of caring, compassionate service, with God at its core. The only difference is that ETC will no longer turn any one person away based solely on his religion, and the future growth of the Credit Union will no longer be restricted.
ETCFCU looks forward to what lies ahead for its members as it continues a tradition of dedicated service to its family of members.
Thank you for your interest in East Traverse Catholic Federal Credit Union!
We appreciate your loyalty and trust and pledge our devotion and service to you.