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Celebrate the WESTconsin Journey!

Posted: August 29, 2019

2019 marks our 80th Anniversary! We want to celebrate the WESTconsin Journey with you because there is no place like home! 

WESTconsin Credit Union originally known as Menomonie’s Farmers Credit Union was originally established in 1939 to serve members and patrons of the local Farmers Union Co-op. We still have a large membership population that are farmers but we have since grown to include many backgrounds, careers and age groups. We are going to be taking a journey down the yellow brick road of WESTconsin’s history, be sure to check back as we add to the timeline!

1940s
Memories from Ruth Ann, Art Gilberts' Daughter

Ruth Ann (Gilberts) Kelley sent this message upon receiving the January-June 2019 $MARTLIVING Member Connection Newsletter. "The home pictured on the front of the newsletter is where I grew up, and the credit union became part of our family. The sign in the yard brought back many memories of that very dynamic time. Little did we know that those late-nite and dinner-time phone calls, the Sunday-afternoon drop-ins, and often-interrupted family pastimes would end up as a multi-million-dollar enterprise serving so many people in WESTconsin! We even had to give away our little Cocker Spaniel, Bootie, because she barked and peed at each new arrival!

The legend we learned was that Dad (Arthur Gilberts) had brought the credit union home in a cigar box!

While I am deeply grateful for the work of the credit union in home-town Menomonie and the surrounding towns, I am truly touched by the honor of remembrance. May WESTconsin Credit Union continue to grow and prosper, along with your members."

November 1, 1949
Art Gilberts Hired as First Full-Time Manager

Art managed the credit union from his own home until 1953. The front porch was remodeled and a sign put up saying "Credit Union Office". Assets at the time were just over $21,000.

1953
Credit Union on the Move!

By 1953, the credit union had grown to over $365,000 in assets and the Board of Directors decided the credit union should have its own office. Office space was rented one-half block off Main Street in downtown Menomonie at 712 5th Street.

1963
On the Road Again

Menomonie Farmers Credit Union has grown to nearly $4 million in assets, and is now on the move again. This time, it's to the first building it built and owned, at 426 South Broadway in Menomonie.

December 1974
River Falls Merger

With Menomonie Farmers Credit Union's (MFCU) continued growth and success, other credit unions in the area turned to MFCU to merge for greater strength and to save credit union service in their communities. Falls Credit Union in River Falls merged with MFCU in December 1974.

1976
Addition to Menomonie Office

The credit union had by this time more than outgrown its space and had over $14 million in assets. An addition was constructed at the Broadway office. The second floor was rented out to four tenants, and MFCU occupied the remainder of the space.

Spring 1978
38th Annual Meeting

Noted in the Menomonie Farmers Credit Union Newsletter: The weather that preceded the 38th Annual Meeting of the Menomonie Farmers Credit Union was about as bad as any endured this past winter. In spite of bad roads and a lousy weather forecast, 260 members attended the Credit Union's most important annual function. That year the attendance gift consisted of "a manicure set that can be carried in a purse or pocket". Board of Directors members that year were Chairman, Dean Ormson; Vice-Chairman, Robert Marine; Treasurer, John Miller; Secretary, L.C. "Pete" Hendrikson; Neil Fellrath and Dennis Olson.

1979
River Falls Office Move

The River Falls office outgrew their space and broke ground on a brand new space during the summer of 1978. The office was completed and opened to the public in early 1979.

Barron Merger

Barron Credit Union merges with Menomonie Farmers Credit Union.

Amery Office

Along with their office in Barron, the Barron Credit Union also had an office in Amery. This office joined Menomonie Farmers Credit Union as well.

Baldwin Merger

St. Croix Co-op Credit Union in Baldwin merged with Menomonie Farmers Credit Union.

1980
Traveler's Cheques

By the Winter Newsletter Menomonie Farmers Credit Union had made Traveler's Cheques available at the Menomonie office. They were available at the other offices soon after. Noted in the Newsletter: Traveler's Cheques are important when traveling and the American Express Traveler's Cheques are readily accepted around the world. They have a unique refund system for lost cheques which make it possible to get an easy, convenient refund any day of the year including weekends and holidays, here and abroad, even at night, across America.

Baldwin Office Remodeled

The Menomonie Farmers Credit Union Baldwin office was remodeled during the fall and winter. 

January 19, 1981
Art Gilberts Day

Art Gilberts Day was held at Menomonie Farmers Credit Union on January 19, 1981. Members could stop in and have a cup of coffee with Art that day. A Retirement Toast and Roast was also held for Art at the Stout Commons the Friday before. Excerpt from Art's President's message: I have enjoyed working with the Menomonie Farmers Credit Union during the past 38 years. It has been a real thrill to see it grow from a $2,000.00 Credit Union to the $30 million Credit Union we have today. 

1981
Robert J. Wilson succeeds Arthur C. Gilbert

Robert J. Wilson was named to succeed Arthur C. Gilberts who retired on January 22, 1981. Bob joined the Credit Union in 1958 after four years in the Air Force and three years with a consumer finance corporation. He was named assistant manager (Vice President) in 1962. Greg Lentz succeeds Wilson as Vice President, and James F. Mense and Gilbert Christianson were both appointed Assistant Vice Presidents.

Amery Office Improvements

The Menomonie Farmers Credit Union office in Amery received some exterior facelifting. Then the interior was spruced up as well. 

Operations Officer

President Bob Wilson announced the appointment of Leo Schindler to the newly created post of Operations Officer. His responsibilities consisted of policy regulation compliance, documentation, staff training, security, and assisting in overseeing the data processing function including computer program updating and changes. 

Share Draft Accounts

Menomonie Farmers Credit Union added another service, Share Draft Accounts. These looked like checks and were used like checks. They earned 6% per annum quarterly interest on a low monthly share draft balance. This eliminated the need to move funds from one account to another to earn interest on the balance. Paychecks could also be deposited into a share draft account.

Direct Deposit

"The no wait way to deposit money" was now available to members. "You'll never have to worry again about lost or stolen payments because each one is safely forwarded to your credit union. But best of all, direct deposit means convenience. You'll never stand in another teller line again."

1983
Credit Cards are introduced

By 1986 thousands of credit union members had taken advantage of Menomonie Farmers Credit Union MasterCard and Visa credit cards services.

1984
New Richmond Merger

Northwest St. Croix Credit Union in New Richmond merges with Menomonie Farmers Credit Union in September.

ATM Access

TYME machines called automatic teller machines (ATMs) become available providing access to members' money 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Up to three transactions per day were allowed with a maximum withdraw of $200 per day. 

1990
Name Changes to WESTconsin Credit Union

Over the years, as we merged with other small credit unions in the area, our field of membership grew to include virtually all occupations in 14 counties across western Wisconsin. In the summer of 1990, we recognized this growth by changing our name to WESTconsin Credit Union.

1991
Account Access by Phone was Introduced

CUTELE was introduced making it possible for members to access their accounts from home, work or even when traveling—24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week from their touch-tone telephone. After filling out an application, members would receive a PIN by mail and they were set to check balances and deposits, transfer funds between accounts, verify that checks have cleared, and make loan payments.

1992
Saturday Hours Became Available

Saturday hours were added at the Menomonie and River Falls offices realizing that for some people Saturday may be the only time they can get to an office. The Saturday hours provided full services including loans.

1993
Gregory A. Lentz succeeds Robert J. Wilson

Gregory A. Lentz was named to succeed Robert J. Wilson who retired on October 1, 1993. Greg joined the Credit Union in 1974 as a Loan Officer, after serving one year as a management trainee for a finance company. He became Vice President in 1981. 

1995
Four counties in Minnesota are added to membership field

The membership field expanded into four eastern Minnesota counties - Goodhue, Dakota, Chisago, and Washington. With these additions the field of membership totaled 14 counties in Wisconsin and 4 in Minnesota. 

Menomonie—North Office

A new office location was opened on the northern side of Menomonie to better serve our members.

1997
Credit card scenic designs

Scenic credit cards were introduced. One version was taken from the observation tower in Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area near Menomonie. The other had a farm scene taken by Mary Jean Raile of Menomonie and was the winning entry in the Picture WESTconsin photo contest.

WESTconsin Credit Union Scholarship

WESTconsin Credit Union congratulated the first group of WESTconsin Credit Union Scholarship recipients! We are happy to be able to continue to award scholarships each year.

1998
Debit cards

The WEST Check Card (debit card) was introduced. 

2000
Service Center

Our Service Center was created to more conveniently and efficiently help our members. 

2001

Menomonie—East Office and Administrative Center

The East Menomonie Financial Service and Administrative Center is completed to support the growing needs in all of our communities. 

Volunteer Club and Travel Club

Both the WESTconsin Volunteer Club and the WESTconsin Travel Club were introduced. 

2002

MVP

Our MVP program began August 1, 2002. By having more of their finances with WESTconsin Credit Union, this program rewards members with additional discounted fees and loan interest rates along with higher certificate dividends. 

2006
Website

WESTconsin Credit Union redesigned their website to add more information and be more user-friendly. Secure email forms, financial information and resources, the community events calendar, and more were added. Online banking, bill payment, and loan applications continued to be available 24 hours a day.

WESTconsin Credit Union Logo is updated

After the original logo served WESTconsin Credit Union well for sixteen years, in 2006 the logo was updated.

More to come!

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