When Delta Community Credit Union opened its new Decatur branch location earlier this month, an area resident was waiting to become its newest member.
“The first person we served in our new location was a young man named Justice Smith, recalled Hank Halter, CEO of Delta Community Credit Union.
“Justice told us he wanted to begin building credit so he can eventually buy his first home and open his own business. His friends had been telling him about the benefits of credit union membership, so when he saw our new Decatur branch location, he made an appointment to come in and open an account.” Halter said Smith’s financial goals are similar to those of many who find credit union membership a good fit for their lifestyles.
“I think consumers today are more informed than ever about the many banking options now available, from online-only banks to credit unions. People are increasingly aware that there’s a credit union out there for virtually anyone, and membership offers many advantages, notably no or very low fees; generally better rates on deposit products; and lower rates on loans. Many people prefer credit unions because they like our member-owned, not-for-profit structure, which means we focus solely on generating value for our members, not shareholders,” Halter said.
Although the new Delta Community office is a short walk from the old location, Halter said he believes customers will appreciate the changes. “Unlike our previous location, 160 Clairemont Ave. has drive-through service lanes, plus a drive-up ATM and a walk-up ATM. It is very near our previous location, so we know it will be equally convenient for our established members,” he said, adding that the new location has additional free parking. “Since it is located at the busy intersection of Clairmont Avenue and Commerce Drive, we hope to attract new members so they, too, can enjoy the benefits and great value of membership.”
Halter explained that because Delta Community’s previous location on West Ponce de Leon Avenue was so busy, the credit union began looking for a larger, more comfortable space. “Delta Community has more than 28,000 members living in DeKalb County, and many more who work there and depend on our local team for all their banking needs,” he said.
Noting that this year Delta Community celebrates its 80th anniversary, Halter said the credit union was founded in 1940 by eight Delta Air Lines employees to serve them and their coworkers. In 2005, its “field-of-membership” was expanded so that, today it is open to anyone who lives or works in one of 14 metro Atlanta counties, as well as employees of more than 140 businesses.
According to Halter, Delta Community is now the largest credit union in Georgia, and among the largest 30 credit unions in the nation. “In recent years, and even during the current public health crisis, we have continued to enjoy robust growth by virtually any measurement. With more than $7 billion in assets, our balance sheet remains strong. Our workforce now exceeds 1,100 employees, and we continue hiring to meet the needs of our members,” he said, adding that the number of branches will reach 31 in 2021.
“Perhaps most importantly, our membership has grown to more than 422,000,” he continued. “I credit Delta Community employees for that success. Our credit union certainly offers great value on products, like home, auto and business loans, but it is our hands-on service and personal relationships with members that really drive customer satisfaction.”
Halter said the additional automated service options at the new branch had been planned before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but the current public health crisis has prompted other adjustments in day-to-day operations.
Based on guidance from the CDC, state and local authorities and our own established Business Continuity Plans, we developed and are executing a formal COVID-19 response plan that addresses everything from scheduling and staffing modifications, to enhanced technology that allows more of our employees to work from home. For employees who continue coming into a branch or office, we provide masks and enforce safe social distancing in common areas,” he noted.
Delta Community is also assisting members with needs brought on by the pandemic, according to Halter. “At the beginning of the pandemic we obtained the appropriate certification to begin offering Small Business Administration loans so that we could offer our business members access to the federal CAREs Act’s Paycheck Protection Plan. We work with individuals, who request help with personal accounts, on a case-by-case basis to address their unique needs, and help them navigate these uncertain times,” he said.