In a sense, Andi Baum has grown at the same rate as Everyone's Federal Credit Union in this old train depot town along historic Route 66.
That growth has led to a "new" $500,000 main office modeled after the Tucumcari Train Depot and has led Baum to the head office of the $12-million CU. Baum joined the credit union industry in 1997 with no financial training or experience whatsoever.
"Now I've had a lot," she said with a laugh. "It's been a real learning curve."
With helpful advice from her family, who have worked in CUs for decades, Baum took every financial class or seminar she could get her hands on and took the reins of Everyone's FCU in 2000. Baum's in-laws, J.L. and Viola Baum, ran the credit union from the early 1960s to 1981, whereupon her husband Victor took control. Victor retired in 2000 and now it was her turn. One item Baum brought with her to Everyone's FCU was a painting of a locomotive passing the old Tucumcari Train Depot that she hung in her office for inspiration.
Everyone's FCU got its start as a railroadman's CU in 1954 as Southern Pacific Railway Employees FCU and changed its name after the railroad ceased operations in Tucumcari. Through the years, the CU has been operated on kitchen tables, the old train depot for 10 years, relocated to downtown, and then settled at an old windshield repair shop. The repair shop's walls form half of the new main office, with new construction comprising the newer half and the exterior.
"We're our own building. We can hardly believe it," she said.
Everyone's FCU has grown quite a bit for a small-town credit union. Baum said the CU began offering new products such as debit cards and even real estate deals, and was quick to take advantage of the boom in online banking. From December 2000 to September 2005, Everyone's FCU assets grew from $7.6 million to $11.9 million as more members began to use the CU for all of their banking needs. It was growing physically, as well, so much in fact that CU staff were forced to share computers and even desks to get their work done.
"Because we were growing so fast, we knew we needed to grow," Baum said.
Everyone's FCU decided to renovate its existing building and also add more space to it. Inspired by the town history and Baum's train painting, Everyone's FCU board chose to model the credit union after the old Tucumcari Train Depot highlighting the town's history and association with the railroad industry. Baum said the CU took longer than normal, 18 months, to plan and rebuild its office. Everyone's FCU, and everyone inside it, was busting at the seams.
"We re-did everything," she said.
The "new" building added 4,400 square feet of space, a drive-through window and increased the number of offices to nine from three. Jeff White Financial Design and Construction made the building exterior reflect the old depot in design and color. "The employees are thrilled because we all have a computer and space," she said.
Local artists have painted a 104-foot long mural along Route 66 featuring yet another train. Baum said the mural has actually become a travel stop for motorists driving down the historic road. Baum said Everyone's FCU refurbished building has ignited even more interest in the old train depot, which is now the focus of a community effort to locate funding for a historic renovation.
Baum said at one point as the new and old sections of the building were joined, half of the CU was under construction and half was open for member transactions. Baum said other CUs should keep in mind that while construction is going on inside a financial institution, CU staff will need to be present, as construction workers arrive so early and leave so late in the day.
Baum credited her proactive board of directors with moving the building project forward and in particular, James Lerke, a board member who is the last "railroader" to help lead Everyone's CU. Baum said Lerke wanted to ensure the railroad legacy would stay with the credit union.
"He's been so committed to the project," she said.