Breaking New Ground: Credit unions expand in Utah
In the fall of 2016, Deseret First Credit Union (DFCU) and Mountain America Credit Union (MACU) each broke ground on new facilities. DFCU’s new operations center will be located in West Valley and is scheduled to be completed in November 2017, and MACU’s new corporate headquarters in Sandy is expected to be completed in 2018. While there are many different factors that contributed to the timing of these two considerable construction projects, both buildings can be seen as shining examples of how the credit union industry in Utah is evolving as it grows.
DFCU President and CEO Shane London is enthusiastic about the organization’s new operations center, currently under construction in West Valley. “We’re championing our members,” says London, who adds that members are always his top priority. “This new operations center will give us the potential capacity to meet our needs for growth for the next 20-plus years.”
DFCU serves members and employees of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it currently has 59,000 members and operates 11 branches in Utah. London says that from start to finish, the operations center was conceived with members of the credit union in mind. The operations center is situated a short distance from DFCU’s current headquarters and will house administrative operations, member services, lending, IT and other functions.
Upon completion, The DFCU operations center will dedicate its 60,000 square feet to streamlining credit union member services and creating a positive work environment for DFCU employees. Since the credit union’s employees commute from all over the valley, London wanted a location that made the transition easier for employees. “We wanted to find something that had relatively easy freeway access, and we wanted something that was in a reputable business park—but not so affluent that it’s high expense,” he says.
Several factors influenced the decision to relocate to a new facility. “We’ve been in a leased space for the last 12 years, and this facility is simply dating itself. It hasn’t functioned as admirably as we would have hoped,” London says.
As the costs of construction can be exorbitant, London’s first priority was to make sure the new facility was cost effective. After checking the numbers, London and his team were able to secure a deal that was revenue neutral. “The new facility is going give us the space that we need to grow. It’s not a Taj Mahal by any means, but it will be a practical building that serves the needs of our staff and our members,” he says.
MACU President and CEO Sterling Nielsen’s experience with the construction of the credit union’s new corporate headquarters shares many similarities with that of Shane London and DFCU. “We love our current facility, but this will give us an opportunity to provide a beautiful space that will really enhance the community,” Nielsen says. “It will be a great home for our employees, where they can be proud to come and work.”
The new MACU corporate headquarters is located in Sandy and can easily be seen from I-15. It spans 11 stories and a total of 327,000 square feet, making it the largest commercial building outside of downtown Salt Lake City. “We’ve been experiencing some new member growth, which is good, but sometimes things grow faster than you anticipate,” Nielsen says. “We had an opportunity come to us, and it resulted in us getting into a building faster than we anticipated, which gained us a year of planning. We looked at various alternatives and other locations, but this location had the best overall value.”
MACU operates 86 branches in five states and boasts more than 700,000 members. Nielsen credits a strong community spirit for enabling credit unions to thrive. “I think the credit union industry is growing nationwide,” he says. “Once people started to understand the value that we offer the community, I could see growth rates exceeding what I would have expected.”
With the endorsement of Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan and a sponsorship of the newly constructed Hale Center Theatre, which stands adjacent to MACU’s new headquarters, Nielsen hopes to propagate MACU’s positive influence in the Sandy community. “When it comes down to it, it’s really about how we can best serve the members. We’re excited to be able to give back to the community in a meaningful way,” he says.
Both MACU and DFCU have established themselves as member-focused credit unions, and the construction of these two new facilities only goes to solidify the fact that credit unions have the resources and foresight to embrace the future as it unfolds before them.