The best part about his 36 years at Citizens Community Credit Union, Paul Becker said, was working with the credit union philosophy.
"The credit union philosophy is 'people helping people,'" said the soon-to-retire chief executive officer. "That has been a credit union motto for years. It's really a sense of caring for people. I always tell my staff that when people come in here, they have a need. And, hopefully, when they leave here, we've satisfied that need or we've explained how they can get that service someplace else."
Becker said he respects banks and bankers, but he believes credit unions "are more oriented toward individual, consumer types of services. But the nice thing is, there is choice. I think people, by having both banks and credit unions, have choice, and choice is good for consumers."
-Messenger photos by Hans Madsen
No, Paul Becker isn’t beside himself about his decision to retire from Citizens Community Credit Union. But employees there have been having some fun in recent weeks with the cardboard cutout they’ve dubbed “Flat Paul.” The two-dimensional Becker even attended a party for the three-dimensional Becker.
Katie Averill, vice president of marketing and business development at Citizens, said working with Becker for the past five years has taught her "that we provide solutions."
"From an employee standpoint, we've learned that from Paul," Averill said. "And, sometimes the solution isn't within these walls, but we can give people a direction for a solution."
The idea of solutions also extends to staff at Citizens Community Credit Union.
"We have a lot of emphasis on family here," Becker said. "I've always tried to do that as a manager."
People who work at Citizens work together eight hours a day - "We have more waking hours together than we do with our families, and so, we have to interact. We really consider ourselves an extended family, and because of that, family activities become very important," he said.
If somebody has a family reunion to attend or a specific request for vacation time, Citizens is very accommodating, Becker said.
"Everybody understands that, and they pull together and cover for each other when there are those needs," he said.
Becker's parents divorced when he was 4, and he was raised by his mother. She worked in a bank, where the philosophy was different, he said.
"Those were really tough days when my mother couldn't come to school events. It's important to kids that their parents attend the school events or their birthday celebrations or things like that. We try to accommodate our employees for that kind of thing, and they return the appreciation by having good, dedicated service," Becker said. "Someone like my mother would enjoy working here today."
Contact Barbara Wallace Hughes at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org