Small, Hispanic CU To Become 'Division' Of Point West

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Point West Credit Union has absorbed via merger Hacienda Community Credit Union, but HCCU will continue to live on as a "division" of Point West.

The deal, brought about by Hacienda Community's struggling finances, brings Hacienda Community's 2,100 members and $2.5 million in assets to Point West. PWCU had $90 million in assets and served 9,600 members prior to the merger. Both credit unions are located in this rapidly growing city near the Oregon-Washington border.

Each credit union had just one location prior to the merger, but Point West will operate the former Hacienda headquarters on Killingsworth Avenue as the "Hacienda/Killingsworth" branch. Mike Fletcher, PWCU's marketing and business development manager, said the new "Hacienda Division" within Point West CU will not be treated as a separate credit union, but as a line of products and services tailored to the Hispanic community.

"The collateral materials will be in Spanish, and we will be offering financial seminars and community outreach," Fletcher explained. Seminar topics will include taxes, credit cards, checking accounts and identity protection, he added.

"From an operational standpoint, there are some details to work out-such as data processing and the exact products to be offered to the former Hacienda members-but we are one credit union."

HCCU Pursued Merger

According to Fletcher, the board of directors at HCCU decided in January to seek a merger opportunity when it determined the credit union no longer could sustain operations. He said Point West CU was one of several credit unions that helped Hacienda get started in October 2002.

"Our CEO, Robert Barzler, was on the Hacienda board, so we had a good feel for what they are. Robert, along with our board, wanted to reach out to the Hispanic community even before Hacienda approached us, so it was a natural fit for Point West," he said. Hacienda Community CU was sponsored by the Hacienda Community Development Corporation and was supported by local CUs and the Credit Union Association of Oregon. Barzler told The Credit Union Journal HCCU had a "fabulous mission, which we plan to continue."

"It was about reaching out to the unbanked, people who are distrustful of financial institutions," he said. "I was the interim CEO of Point West from June to September last year. When the board made it clear to me in September I would be retained, the board asked me what I planned to do, and the answer was reach out to the Hispanic community. The merger means we will be doing what we were planning to do, but in a much faster way."

Yolanda Karp, Hacienda's CEO, went to college with Barzler, who recommended her when the HCCU position became available. Barzler was a Hacienda member and was asked at the 2004 annual meeting to run for a board spot when a candidate pulled out at the last minute. During board discussions of Point West as a possible merger partner, Barzler left the room, he said.

Karp will serve as the director of the Hacienda Division, he added.

HCCU ran into trouble because it was having difficulty bringing in money to build capital, Barzler said. "It was a Catch-22: it didn't have the capital to offer products, but without products, it couldn't attract capital."

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