Breaking ground
New Chilton building, other projects planned by PFCU
By Mark Sherry
Mark Sherry photo
Kiel office staff members of Premier Financial Credit Union include (from left) Patty, Chris, Nancy, Kris, Peggy, and (not pictured) Sydney.

Hammers will be pounding soon in Chilton to construct a new Premier Financial Credit Union office, but the impact of those hammers also will be felt in Kiel and New Holstein.

The long planned for and awaited construction of a new Chilton office for Premier Financial is just part of a bigger plan which also includes projects at Premier’s office in Kiel as well as its home office in New Holstein.

Steve Nothem, president and chief executive officer of Premier Financial Credit Union, has been alluding to this shared vision and look of the three offices for the past several years, but now the plan is ready to starting becoming reality.

Work has already been going on in Chilton’s Southside Shopping Center at a retail space formerly occupied by Braun Maguire Jewelers, which moved to a different location in the community. Schneider & Schneider Construction of New Holstein has been preparing that space as a temporary office for Premier Financial. The credit union’s Chilton office will be closed on Saturday, Feb. 27 to allow for what is expected to be a one-day move of equipment and paperwork from its current Chilton office at 50 E. Chestnut St. PFCU plans to be open in the Southside Shopping Center as of Monday, Feb. 29.

Open by end of year?

With PFCU’s Chilton office operating in the Southside Shopping Center, the way will be cleared for construction crews to begin work on the new Chilton office. Nothem said he expects credit union members to be using the new office by the end of this year.

Construction of the new office will help establish the brand for all three offices. Much thought, planning, and vision have gone into how to make all three offices appear similar, and that is the ultimate goal of the credit union, Nothem said.

A next step in that process will be a new marquee which has been ordered for the Kiel office. The new marquee in Kiel will match the new one to be installed in Chilton but will be slightly smaller.

Even more exciting for the future of the Kiel office is a planned building expansion, although Nothem said they will have to let the dust settle—literally— from the Chilton project before even considering that next phase. “In an effort to make the buildings as similar as possible, we have a vision for Kiel for years down the road,” Nothem said.

Although the New Holstein office has seen extensive remodeling projects over the years inside and out, additional exterior work to match the Chilton and Kiel offices may be in the long-range plan as well for Premier Financial Credit Union.

Branding already under way

Tied into the plans for matching exterior looks for its buildings has been work over the past year on branding or rebranding Premier Financial. They worked with an outside marketing firm which identified three words which seem very important to the credit union and its members—integrity, passion, and opportunity. Staff members made it clear that their core values center around those words, so that will be a tag line seen more often in the coming months and years on PFCU advertisements, brochures, and other marketing materials.

Through discussions with staff and a survey of members, it was determined that Premier Financial’s current logo and the color scheme used with it should and will stay the same.

While some change is necessary, people also appreciate stability—and Premier Financial Credit Union members find that in the staff of PFCU’s Kiel office at 530 Fremont St.

Kiel Branch Manager Peggy and Member Relations Specialist Nancy are familiar faces at the Kiel office, joined by member relations representatives Chris and Sydney. A deposit specialist, Kris, has been added to the office to help open accounts as well as working with members on other matters.

New coin counters added

Another new addition to the Kiel office is identical to ones found in the New Holstein and Chilton offices. It is not triplet member relations representatives, but new self-service coin counting machines installed in each office as a service to credit union members. The machines are easy to use. After they count the members’ coins, a ticket is printed which the member takes to a member relations representative for a payout in cash.

Technology such as that continues to be a big part of today’s world. Another example at Premier Financial Credit Union is the rolling out of chip technology on credit and debit cards. The small, square computer chips on cards make it harder for criminals to reproduce fraudulent cards. PFCU members started seeing the chips on their cards in January if their credit cards were due for renewal, and debit card upgrades should begin taking place this year as well.

As Premier Financial’s staff looks forward to future changes and growth, they also can look back at a successful past year. Nothem said the credit union continued to grow and be profitable in 2015. Loan delinquency rates are low compared to their peers. Loan volume at PFCU was up in 2015, especially in the area of vehicle loans as an improving economy helped vehicle sales.

Deposit growth at Premier Financial in 2015 was the best it has been in six years, and its total number of members continued to grow as well.

That growth seen in 2015 helps make it clear that Premier Financial is more than ready for the physical growth in buildings which will continue in 2016 and beyond.