Xerox FCU Has No Plans To Copy Others As It Prepares To Introduce New Brand, Focus

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - From the person who brought us Kinecta, the new name and brand for the former Hughes Aircraft Employees FCU, comes a plan to make over the image of Xerox FCU. It's just down the road a bit.

Teresa Freeborn, who introduced the unorthodox name Kinecta to one of the nation's largest credit unions, is in the process of making over Xerox with a $20-million new headquarters, a doubling of the branch network, and yes, a new name and brand that will de-emphasize the ties to the old copier maker and document solutions company in order to lure employees of its growing number of select employee groups.

Freeborn, who took over as president and CEO of the $750-million credit union a year ago, said soon after coming to Xerox FCU she met with the board in a planning session to discuss the future.

"We talked about growth and how to be a survivor," she said. "And we decided our success would be to find that blue ocean strategy, to find that niche, something that other credit unions are not offering."

That means setting the credit union up as each member's "private banker," among other things. While the term connotes special attention provided to the wealthiest of customers, Xerox wants to offer that special service to all of its members, "not just if you're wealthy," Freeborn said.

As part of the new strategy, the credit union will focus less on the five underserved communities in San Jose, Rochester, St. Petersburg, Chicago and Texas it was authorized to serve in recent years, and more on developing SEGs in its three main markets: Southern California, San Jose and Rochester, N.Y.

Expansion plans calls for construction of a 42,000-square-foot headquarters at the El Segundo Business Park, scheduled for opening next spring, and 10 new branches in the three targeted markets. The capital plan is budgeted for as much as $35 million over the next 10 to 12 years. New services and products are also in the pipeline.

The credit union's development team has been assiduously adding new SEGs at an average of four a month, and that's where the new CEO will hang her hat. "We're good at the workplace," Freeborn said.

Among the SEGs currently served by Xerox FCU are OfficeMax, Cendant, Aramark Corp., Avis/Budget car rentals, Allstate Insurance, Manpower, the Buffalo Zoo and Weyerhauser.

The new strategy does not presage a separation from the credit union's chief sponsor, which has experienced financial troubles in recent years, but is part of "rejuvenating the relationship with them," she said. She noted how they recently opened a full service branch in the company's new headquarters in Norwalk, Conn., and will continue to operate at other Xerox facilities.

As part of the re-branding, Xerox has hired St. Louis-based NewGround, which also helped rebrand Pacific IBM Employees CU as Meriwest CU, to develop a new name and logo. As she did when developing the Kinecta brand, Freeborn plans to involve employees and members in the process. (c) 2007 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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