Self-Help Shares

Reflections on a Credit Union Career: Standing up for Members and Building Loyalty

By Mary M.
  | Sep 08, 2016

Ed Holland, Jr., CEO of Greater Piedmont CU
Ed Holland, Jr., in his Durham office.

When you talk to Ed Holland, Jr. about his career, two words come up a lot: trust and loyalty. In his 35 years as CEO of Greater Piedmont Credit Union, he worked hard to meet the financial needs of his members. They, in turn, have shown a strong loyalty to their credit union.

Greater Piedmont officially became part of the Self-Help family in April this year. Merging two businesses is never simple, but when considering the possibility, Ed and his board of directors were confident that the fit was right.

“Self-Help’s mission was a key factor in the board’s decision,” Ed said. “For years, we have been serving low-to-middle income families, including many who were living paycheck to paycheck.”

Ed noted that many credit unions have moved away from less affluent members to focus on “a more comfortable niche to serve.”  But, like Self-Help, Greater Piedmont has stuck with working families. “We know that with a fair opportunity, our members can get their feet on the ground and build wealth,” Ed said. “Both Self-Help and Greater Piedmont have always been guided by that philosophy.”

Originally, Greater Piedmont was founded in 1977 to exclusively serve employees of Durham Regional Hospital. Under Ed’s leadership, the credit union expanded to include more than 150 employer groups, including groups in Durham, Butner, Henderson, Chapel Hill, Charlotte and Raleigh.  One of the largest groups includes the workers at the Snyder-Lance snack foods plant south of Charlotte in Pineville. (Yes, think of those essential six-packs of crackers that we in the South call “nabs.”). 

“Remarkable” Support from Members

Greater Piedmont has offered financial services and a wide range of loans to its members.  Ed says that one way they built loyalty was by working closely with families that had less-than-perfect credit scores. Like Self-Help, they looked deeply at each member’s financial capabilities and found ways to make loans possible. Over the years, he’s proud that Greater Piedmont was able to help so many members buy their first house or car and to build savings for the future.

Greater Piedmont members have responded to this dedication by sticking with the credit union for years and even promoting it to others.  “The support we’ve received from members has been remarkable,” says Ed.  “Many have helped promote our services to their fellow employees.”

The credit union also has built strong loyalty among its employees. According to Ed, many on his staff have been with the credit union for fifteen years or more. In considering the merger, the board placed a high priority on returning that loyalty by making sure long-term employees would have a fair opportunity to continue their credit union career. 

Member Services Representative at the former Greater Piedmont branch
Member Services Representative at the former Greater Piedmont branch
Chantay Barbee (left) and Helen Ellison (right), Member Services Representatives at the former Greater Piedmont branch on 601 S. Mangum Street in Durham, now one of Self-Help’s newest locations.

According to Ed, overall member response to the merger with Self-Help has been very positive. He attributes this to the basic compatibility between the two credit unions and also the stability of Greater Piedmont staff. “When members call us on the phone or come to a branch, they’re still talking to the same people—people they know and trust, and people who know them and their specific situations.”

Ed says his members also see the advantages of being part of the Self-Help family. They now enjoy many more branch locations, expanded member services and more advanced capabilities such as mobile deposits.

As for himself, Ed is satisfied that he is leaving his members in good hands as he prepares for a long-planned retirement later this year. He says he will miss his staff and the members, many of whom he knows personally. His parting message to members: 

“Thank you for your support and for putting your financial life in our hands. Thanks for your faith that we’d get the job done.”

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