Record dividend for Eastman Credit Union members

Nathan Baker • Dec 14, 2013 at 9:39 PM

The 140,000 account holders with Eastman Credit Union can expect a little more from this year’s bonus after the financial institution’s board of directors elected for a record-breaking $6 million extraordinary dividend payout.

For the past 17 years, the credit union has divided up a portion from capital and reserves and spread it among its members based on how much business each individual conducts with the company.

Since the beginning of the program in 1997, Eastman Credit Union has paid a total of $61 million to its members through the dividend program, President and CEO Olan Jones said.

“To us and the way we operate, our proposition as a financial cooperative is to serve members,” Jones said. “So, we’re simply trying to reward our borrowers and our savers based on the interest paid on loans, or the interest paid on deposits.

“Our philosophy is really about people helping people, and it’s a reward to our members, but it also has an impact on helping move the economy in the region and increases some consumption,” he added.

ECU customers eligible to receive a part of the returns will receive deposits in their accounts in early 2014. Deposit notifications will be included with the January statement and mailed to members before the payment.

Jones said the record-breaking annual amount, up from $5 million last year, indicates both the growth and successful operations of the institution.

This year, the CEO said ECU ranked the highest it ever has on “the Happy Member Index,” an internal survey used by the company to gauge customer satisfaction.

“Rather than talking about growth or profits, our focus is that our members are happy with us,” he said. “Whether it’s from the way we treated them, interest rates, the locations, the looks of our branches, how people speak to them when they walk in, it’s anything and everything related to service.”

Founded in 1934 to accompany Kingsport’s Tennessee Eastman, Eastman Credit Union has grown its assets to more than $2.5 billion, and operates 24 branch offices with more than 500 full-time employees.

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