The Saunders Show – Episode 4 – Piedmont Advantage Credit Union

– Have you noticed that large building on the side of Stratford
Road just past Hanes Mall that looks a lot like an airport terminal? Well, it’s not but it has a lot to do with Winston-Salem’s aviational history. Let me explain. With more than a decade
of selling real estate in and around the Winston-Salem area, one thing that I’ve
learned is we are blessed to be able to call this place home. This show is dedicated to showing off some of the incredible places, and great people in this area. This is The Saunders Show. (bright music) Hey, everybody. My name’s Mark Saunders
with Saunders Realty, and today I’m coming from
Piedmont Advantage Credit Union which is headquartered
right here in Winston-Salem. Now if you saw our last episode, we were at Smith Reynolds Airport. Piedmont Advantage has
a really cool history here in Winston-Salem
originally being set up to service Piedmont Airlines
at Smith Reynolds Airport. Since then its grown to service their members across the country. There are a lot of great people here at Piedmont Advantage Credit Union. I’ve got to know a lot of ’em because I serve on the board
here at the Credit Union. One reason for that is I noticed
how much detail they put in to their members and
their financial wellness through education and products, and investment services for them. So let’s go through and give
you a tour of the building here and also speak with their CEO, Judy Tharp. (bright music) So I’m here today with
Piedmont Advantage CEO, and really good friend
of mine, Judy Tharp. So thank you for taking the
time and showing us around this place.
– Thanks for having me. – So tell me the story
of the Credit Union. I love history especially companies that started and their
roots are in Winston-Salem. Tell me the history and
story of Piedmont Advantage. – Well it’s a very cool story. Our Credit Union started back in 1949. We actually started out
at Smith Reynolds Airport. That was the headquarters
for Piedmont Airlines, and that’s also where our
Credit Union got started. And we were there up until
three and a half years ago when we moved into this facility here at Burke Mill and Stratford. We’ve come a long way since those days, but we never forget from whence we came. We still have volunteers who volunteer for the credit union that were actually a part of that original
starting of this credit union. – Now, I hear you have a long
history with credit unions. How did you first hear about credit unions or get involved with credit
unions in your background? – Well, it’s a cool story, Mark. I grew up in a family
business, much like you did. So, I kind of was an
entrepreneur at heart. So, I got really lucky,
to be honest with you, in that I answered an ad in the newspaper to start a credit union
for the DuPont company in Wilmington. I pursued that opportunity and got the job and here I am 38 years later. I would never dream of
doing anything differently because I love what we do for people. – So, one question I get a lot when, especially working
with buyers in real estate we talk about getting approved for a loan or anything, I mention credit unions. And, I think there’s a big question, “Aren’t credit unions like banks” “and banks like credit unions?” What’s your thoughts on that? – You’re on our Board of Directors so you know that when we meet every month what we talk about is what we can do to enhance the lives of our members. We understand that our members own us and we will never forget that because that is the crux
of how a credit union is different from the bank. We are owned by the members we serve. – Things are changing
so fast in today’s world technology, the economy, and everything. Where do you see the credit union, say, five to ten years? – The reason why we
exist will never change. We are here to enhance lives, we are owned by the members we serve, that will not change. What will change, though, is the way in which we deliver solutions to enhance the lives of our members. Our members have changed the way in which they do business. That will only continue
to change even more and as those generations evolve, the way in which they expect us to serve their needs will change. And, so, we’re always there, we’re kind of leading edge in that respect
and we’ll continue to be that. – So, you’ve mentioned it a couple times and, I wanna see it cause
obviously I like real estate, – Yes.
– So can you give us a tour and let us check out the building? – We love giving tours. – Awesome. So, right here in the main lobby, what’s different coming through here? – Well, our goal is to
create a member experience. So, in the old days people
came here to do transactions, those days are gone, pretty much. So, our people you see here
are Member Experience Advisors. So, we have music, we have free Wi-Fi. Why? Because we want people
to come hang out with us. – Yeah.
– And they do, as you can see back
here we have newspapers, we have seats and coffee and beverages and, so it’s an experience.
– Yeah – That’s kind of unique, right? – Yeah, it’s just a very welcome feeling as you come in with
everything being so open. I mean, here we are in the main level, and you can see all the
way up to the board room. – Isn’t that a cool feature?
– Yeah, it’s really neat. – It’s like a tower.
– Yeah. – Kinda like at an airport terminal, as you mentioned earlier.
– Yeah. So, I’m here with Michael Westbrook. So tell everybody kinda what your role is here at the credit union. – Hey, Mark. Yeah, I’m Michael
Westbrook, Financial Advisor for the membership here, offering services through the use of Financial Services. And we really are different here because we do try to understand each
individual member’s needs. This is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. It’s important to me and
important for us here, to understand that our
members do come first. We sit down and develop a plan for their investing,
whether it be short-term or long-term and help
them achieve their goal. – Okay, awesome. Thanks for taking the time. ‘Members come first,’ I keep hearing that theme over and over again. – You’re gonna hear it more
and more as you go through. – (laughing) Thanks. – Thanks, Mark. – You asked me earlier about what are some of the differences? One of the differences in a credit union and a for-profit financial institution is that we have wonderful volunteers, rather than paid Directors,
who govern the organization. So, that’s a unique differentiation point in a credit union and a for-profit financial institution.
– Yeah. – So, we appreciate that.
– Well, I see the value y’all are providing how,
really, members come first. I had no idea, all of that, until you asked me to serve on the board. – Yes.
– I got to learn more and more – This is our village.
– The Village. – Yes.
– Okay. – The Village was actually
named by the employees. Primarily, this is kind of a hub of our operations, right now. So, we’re based here in Winston-Salem but, through electronic means, we service a lot of people remotely without them having to walk into a branch. – ‘The Village,’ I like that.
– Yeah. Less than five percent of our business is done face-to-face. – Wow.
– Five percent. So the rest of it is electronic. – Wow. – So, Chris, tell us about, so far, what have you observed as the difference in, maybe a previous life, and here, working for Piedmont
Advantage Credit Union. – There is, in the past, on the bank side maybe the focus is on the institution and what’s best for the,
ya know, profitability. This is more about the member experience. – Yes.
– Cause they are, after all, our owners, we work for them.
– Right. – We wouldn’t be here without them. When we make it about their experience and we put them in charge and kinda lay options out in front of them for them to choose, so
giving them the power. I think that’s what builds loyalty. – I have a lotta clients to think banks and credit unions differ, different products and everything. Tell me about mortgage
products, specifically, that y’all have to offer. – It’s a common thing we hear, that, you know, you think credit union you think a car loan,
you think a credit card, but we do all the other
mortgage stuff, too. From origination to
underwriting and processing is all done here in a 50-foot circle. So there isn’t bouncing
ideas and questions to Texas and Florida
and, you know, Oklahoma. – That is such a valid point, because when I’m working with buyers I tell ’em things that can make this go so much smoother is
when your, you know, loan processor and everything is down the hallway instead
of five states over. – That’s right. – To make it so much easier
and smoother transition. – One-stop shop.
– Awesome. Alright, so, tell me about this place. What’s this department? – This is our call center where we take care of the needs of members who call in from all over the country. So, we service greater than 50 percent of our loans through this call center or through the internet
through online application. We love our call center. – So, a couple things
that y’all have mentioned throughout the tour and everything is how important education
is for your members and providing opportunities
for them to learn more about financial education and everything. So we’re in one of your classrooms here. So tell me kinda the
idea for the classrooms and what’s some of the
events that you hold in here. – We hold webinars, seminars,
on everything imaginable as it relates to financial wellness; such as, how to buy a
car, how ta buy a house, how to retire safely and plan for that. So these rooms are utilized a lot. – How do your members find out about the classes that are being offered? If somebody’s watching this video and they want to find
out more on the classes, how’s the best way for them
to find that information? – Well, you know, social media, website. We always publicize. We even send out emails to the members about the upcoming educational events. – Yeah.
– And, what’s also cool is, after those events
are held face-to-face, many of them are also recorded so that you can just go to our website afterwards and pull
them down and view them. – And y’all are starting
to online webinars as well. – We have, yes.
– Education, yeah awesome. That’s really, really great. One thing that I noticed while we were on the tour of the property, as well as the interviews, is just how great the people are here at Piedmont Advantage Credit Union. They really do put the members first. And they’re here to help
any way they possibly can. So, next time you’re on Stratford Road and you see the airport terminal, be sure to stop in and look at all the different ways that they can help you reach your personal financial needs. (bright music) If you’re viewing this show
on our YouTube channel, click the subscribe button below, or you can visit our
website at This is Mark Saunders and
I’ll see ya next time. (bright music)

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