For Store Visitors, A CU-Sponsored Surprise

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PLEASANTON, Calif.-Visitors to a supermarket here recently were surprised by an appearance by an NBA player. Seventy-five others were even more surprised when they received $75 gift cards from executives of Patelco Credit Union.

Stephen Curry, in his second year as a guard for the Golden State Warriors, based in nearby Oakland, was joined at a Lucky market by Ken Burns, president and CEO of the $3.5-billion credit union, and Carol Highton, Patelco's chief operating officer. It was the first of numerous events to celebrate Patelco's 75th anniversary.

Related events are being held through April 15, including other "surprise" visits and giveaways planned for ARCO gas stations, Tully's Coffee shops, and Jamba Juice and Panera Bread locations.

Burns said the "Patelco Pays Your Way" promotion is "an opportunity for us to express our thanks to the community for the 75 years Patelco has been serving them."

"There was no attachment to the gift cards, some of the people who got gift cards were members of the credit union and some were members of the community," he said. "There was a lot of excitement at the Lucky store where Stephen Curry was giving out cards. Folks were pleasantly surprised, to say the least."

Several of the gift card recipients were familiar with Patelco, and Burns said those who were not represented an "opportunity" to talk about the credit union.

"It had some benefits that were not the original intent," he said. "Of course Patelco wants to serve the community, both members and potential members, so we were delighted."

Patelco plans to award a total of $45,000 during the course of the promotion. The dollar amount of gift cards will vary by location. Selected Tully's Coffee customers will receive $10 gift cards, for example.

The CU has set up a special microsite at: www.patelcopays.org.

'Bank on Trust'

Simultaneous with Patelco Pays Your Way, it has also launched its new "Bank on Trust" campaign. Burns said the second promotion recognizes Patelco achieved 75 years of service by building a close relationship with its members.

"Bank on Trust is linked by the fact our success is predicated on our members telling us they trust us," he said. "Also, that we are financially secure during troubled times and that the value proposition of the products and services we offer is in the members' best interests rather than earnings. Patelco was not running around making subprime loans so many others made, and we are in a better position today because of it.

"Our net worth is over 10% today, which we are proud of, especially compared to many other institutions that are no longer with us."

In its December Call Report, Patelco reported net income excluding NCUA charges of $32.9 million. It paid $3.9 million to the NCUSIF and $4.3 million to the corporate stabilization fund, reducing its net income to $24.6 million. It was a sharp turnaround from a $14.6 million loss in 2009.

Patelco began a sponsorship arrangement with the Warriors in mid-February, which Burns said the CU will be tapping in conjunction with its other 75th anniversary promotions. Patelco's website is linked from the Warriors site, and over the next 30 days the credit union will have banner ads at Warriors home games and branches will have Warriors tickets to give away.

"The idea is they play to win and we serve to win on behalf of our members," he said. "The demographic of the folks who attend Warriors games fits the profile of our membership, so this is a partnership we are very excited about. This adds to the excitement of our 75th anniversary and we look forward to be being a successful organization on behalf of the members and the community we serve."

New Digs

After decades in downtown San Francisco, Patelco recently moved its headquarters to this suburb in what is known locally as the East Bay. Burns said the old set up consisted of 11 floors in two buildings side-by-side.

"In Pleasanton we are operating on two floors, so the staff is interacting on a level they were not accustomed to," he said. "I think we'll see a 10%-15% increase in operating efficiency, because they will be able to communicate and work things out more easily. About 40% of our membership lives in the East Bay, so this makes us more accessible to them."

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