Celebrate the WESTconsin Journey!
Posted: July 12, 2019
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!
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!
Memories from Ruth Ann, Art Gilberts' Daughter
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 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.
Art Gilberts Hired as First Full-Time Manager
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.
Credit Union on the Move!
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.
On the Road Again
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.
River Falls Merger
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.
Addition to Menomonie Office
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.
38th Annual Meeting
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.
River Falls Office Move
Barron MergerBarron Credit Union merges with Menomonie Farmers Credit Union.
Amery OfficeAlong 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 MergerSt. Croix Co-op Credit Union in Baldwin merged with Menomonie Farmers Credit Union.
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 RemodeledThe Menomonie Farmers Credit Union Baldwin office was remodeled during the fall and winter.
January 19, 1981
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.
Art Gilberts Day
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.
Robert J. Wilson succeeds Arthur C. Gilbert
Amery Office ImprovementsThe Menomonie Farmers Credit Union office in Amery received some exterior facelifting. Then the interior was spruced up as well.
Operations OfficerPresident 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 AccountsMenomonie 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."
By 1986 thousands of credit union members had taken advantage of Menomonie Farmers Credit Union MasterCard and Visa credit cards services.
Credit Cards are introduced
Northwest St. Croix Credit Union in New Richmond merges with Menomonie Farmers Credit Union in September.
New Richmond Merger
ATM AccessTYME 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new office location was opened on the northern side of Menomonie to better serve our members.
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.