Bank celebrates 60 years

May 18, 2002|By TIM YANNI, Staff Writer

If company longevity is one of the reasons you choose to invest your money where you do, then there's a good chance you are a member at First Imperial Credit Union.

The credit union, originally known as Imperial Federal Credit Union, celebrated its 60th year of service to the Imperial Valley in El Centro on Thursday and members and their families were invited to share in the party.

"I loved working for the credit union," said retired employee Melo Singh Villa. "They treated me right."

Villa, who worked for First Imperial for 41 years before retiring in 2000, said she watched the credit union grow from the ground up.

"We started with a very small credit union," Villa said.

She said when she began working for First Imperial, checking accounts and ATMs were not offered to members.

And while things may have changed, people haven't.

"We've gone through a lot of employees," Villa said. "They've been real pleasant."


Villa said working at First Imperial gave her an opportunity to watch her co-workers and their families grow.

"Nobody seemed to be jealous of each other," Villa said. "We got along real well."

Villa began working for First Imperial right after high school graduation.

"I stayed, so I guess they were pleased with my work," she said with a smile. "All the years I worked for the credit union, I enjoyed it."

Villa said customer service is what has always made First Imperial stand out from other institutions.

"I enjoyed especially helping the members," Villa said. "We tried to please them as much as we could."

Helen Carver has been a member of First Imperial since it was founded in 1942. She said she has never been unhappy as a customer.

"They've been very nice to me," Carver said. "I have never had a problem and if I have a problem, they take care of it."

Carver, who said she does most of her banking in the Imperial branch, said she receives the same customer service in the Imperial and El Centro branches.

"I understand it's really growing," she said of the credit union.

"They all really knew what they were doing," she said of the employees.

Carver said her 60 years as a member have been "wonderful" and she said she still has money invested with the credit union.

Kathy Gonzalez, business development coordinator of First Imperial, said she has enjoyed all of the nine years she has worked for the credit union.

"It's been a great work atmosphere," Gonzalez said. "We're treated like family."

Gonzalez said the staff at First Imperial treats members with a personable attitude and that has a lot to do with the company's success.

"We treat our members more as family." Gonzalez said. "I think that's why we've had so many that have stayed."

She said First Imperial's competitive interest rates and low member fees keep satisfied members coming through the doors.

"Our rates are good," Gonzalez said. "The fees have always been minimal."

She said the loan department will take personal circumstances into consideration and help members with a loan that is right for them.

Gonzalez said she has had a pleasant experience with First Imperial.

"I enjoy what I do," Gonzalez said.

She said part of what will help in the credit union's success is its intention to remain local.

"We're going to stay in the Imperial Valley," Gonzalez said, adding that expansion branches in Brawley and Calexico are under consideration but there is no talk of expanding beyond the Imperial Valley.

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