Have Forward-thinking Business Plans

Q&A with a Community CU of the Year Award-winner.

February 07, 2013
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In October, CUNA presented the 2012 Community Credit Union of the Year Award to four credit unions for their exemplary displays of movement principles and positive influence in the field of service.

Among the four was Dakotaland Federal Credit Union, Huron, S.D., which received a honorable mention in the less than $250 million in assets category.

 Dakotaland's President/CEO Dan Cumbee participated in a Q&A with Credit Union Magazine about what it takes to be a great community credit union.

CU Mag: To be successful, a community CU must...

Cumbee: Provide value to its members and the communities they serve. That value may be in the form of better rates, lower fees, more convenient services, or just that second chance when a member really needs it.

CU Mag: What about your CU are you most proud?

Cumbee: At Dakotaland Federal Credit Union we are most proud of our unprecedented growth and the adoption rate of so many of our services by our membership. For example, our credit union captured 47% of the real estate lending in the county in which our main office is located.

CU Mag: What's the biggest challenge the CU has had to overcome in the last few years?

Cumbee: There is no doubt with this tremendous growth comes the challenge of keeping up with the evolution through more advanced systems and increased efficiencies to best manage the overall operation of the credit union.

CU Mag: What's been the most effective way for you to reach out and understand your community audience?

 Cumbee: Listen and Observe. It’s amazing what your members and community can tell you if you just take the time to listen. It’s important as management we never forget the basic needs and level of understanding our members expect from us. If a plant layoff or a cut in hours is what our member is worried about today, then the credit union needs to be prepared to help minimize that worry anyway they can.

CU Mag: What's the best advice you can give other community CUs?

Cumbee: Develop a “forward thinking” business plan. One that is realistic, has sustainability, and is based on the fundamentals of doing good business. The next step is to properly prepare your staff, take a deep breath, and go after your objective with purpose.

The winners of the Community Credit Union Award best advance the ideals of the credit union movement, provide products that meet the needs of diverse communities, and are active in their communities.

The other winners included First Community Credit Union, Jamestown, N.D., Gulf Coast Community Federal Credit Union, Gulfport, Miss., and 1st MidAmerica Credit Union, Bethalto, Ill. (honorable mention).

The 2013 awards and the Community Credit Union & Growth Conference, Oct. 8-11 in Uncasville, Conn.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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