Scranton Closes Thoroughfare For CU's Vehicle Sale

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This wasn't your average credit union vehicle sale.

Tobyhanna Army Depot FCU not only got the city's permission to drape a double-sided banner across a major thoroughfare announcing the one-day event, it convinced city officials to block off a section of its main street for convenient viewing of the merchandise, said Nina Waskevich, Marketing Manager of TADFCU.

And, she used the term merchandise lightly.

In addition to the usual vehicle sale stuff-about five cars and trucks from five separate dealers-the event included boats, recreational vehicles, motorcycles and even motorized lawnmowers, along with off-road toys such as ATVs, and snowmobiles. In addition there was construction equipment such as backhoes and John Deere Gator utility vehicles (the same kind used to deliver water to cyclists during the recent Tour de France.)

"Our point was to have a car sale that would help us start building relationships with local businesses," Waskevich said. "But we offer so many different types of loans and wanted our members to be aware of all of them."

Waskevich said while TADFCU does not make indirect loans, it has been setting up loan shops at area dealerships. And, in recent months it started displaying motorcycles from the North American Warhorse dealership inside its Scranton branch.

"We're hoping by the end of the year to add on business services (and indirect lending)," she said. Until then, she and her brainstorm team that included Jim Hartman, VP of Lending and Facilities, and Travis Frey, VP of Information Technology, agreed that a hands-on event showing the many vehicle loan options would get their members' attention.

She said increased marketing efforts in recent months have already increased loan volume at the credit union and hoped that this event would only add to the trend.

Tobyhanna is mostly SEG-based and has $100 million in assets and 22,500 members. Its current loan-to-share ratio is 67.5%.

With two months worth of newspaper and radio advertisements, press releases to local media, front line tellers chatting it up and free New York style hot dogs every Friday at the main branch to promote the Loan-a-thon, it was bound to get noticed.

And get noticed it did.

"The event was a total success," she said. "We had a great turnout."

Net loan totals from the 10-hour sale were $263,017.28. That included new vehicle loans, ATV loans, home equity loans and personal loans. As an added bonus, Waskevich said, the event attracted new members.

"There are still pre-approvals and deals waiting to close this week, so this number will more than likely go up," Waskevich said two days after the event. "This will result from a three-day stipend currently being offered after the event. All participating dealerships will be honoring their special credit unions pricing and the credit union will be extending all specially reduced loan rates until the end of the day, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2004."

Among the draws were free food and drinks, of course, and low (risk-based) loan rates that started at 4.49%.

The event did have some additional help luring members via live radio broadcasts from five local stations throughout the day.

Waskevich said the event certainly opened the door for even more loan possibilities. And, she expected that it would put TADFCU at top of mind for those who attended but weren't quite ready to buy during the sale.

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