He Means Business

'Small businesses can be very profitable members if you have the right products and services to meet their needs.'

October 08, 2013
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Under Eric Jenkins’ leadership, CU Partner Link’s first big idea has become the “Next Big Idea.”

The company’s NOWaccount, which enables small business-to-business sellers to better manage cash flow, won a “Shark Tank”-like competition, claiming the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations’ honor for the industry’s best new concept.

NOWaccount provides simple, cost-effective access to capital by turning accounts receivables into cash. The product also gives credit unions a “legitimate chance to offer something of significant value for small businesses that banks can’t or won’t provide,” says Angi Harben, director of communications for the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA).

GCUA and the Cornerstone, Iowa, Ohio, and California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues own CU Partner Link.

NOWaccount has “supercharged” business prospects for Logo Surfing Promotional Products, an online retailer based in Georgia that produces branded materials, says Logo Surfing CEO Matthew Watkins.

“Before, I was literally afraid of getting too many big orders at once, which would put me in the position of potentially having to walk away from an order for lack of funding,” says Watkins, who used to rely on traditional lines of credit and home equity loans to balance the books. “NOWaccount allows me to go after larger national accounts because we have the funding to process just about any order we close.”

Logo Surfing added two service reps and increased its average order total 35% to put the company on pace for a record year. It counts among its clients both startup companies and giants such as The Coca-Cola Co., The Dow Chemical Co., and OfficeMax.

Jenkins envisioned making precisely that type of impact when he joined CU Partner Link as chief operating officer after more than 20 years representing credit unions. That includes a stint as a senior vice president at GCUA and a 10-year run as president of Palmetto Health Credit Union in Columbia, S.C., during which time the institution grew from $5 million to $50 million in assets.

To become the financial institution of choice for members, credit unions “must be willing to evolve quickly and be open to creating value for consumers in new and innovative ways,” Jenkins says.

CU Partner Link aims to drive revenue for credit unions by expanding membership, increasing loan originations, and creating additional fee income.

“Small businesses can be very profitable members if you have the right products and services to meet their needs,” Jenkins says. "This is largely an untapped market for many credit unions.”

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