Getting to know members helps TLFCU provide customized service

LAURIUM – The slogan emblazoned on posters for International Credit Union Day 2015 is “People Helping People.” It’s a motto that employees at Torch Lake Federal Credit Union embody, as they provide members with personal service.

TLFCU originated through the Knights of Colombus, as a cooperative method of giving small loans to community members, according to the TLFCU website. The credit union was chartered in 1955, and is currently chartered from Dollar Bay to Copper Harbor.

Today, according to CEO Connie Mikkola, the credit union is open to anyone in the chartered area.

“Even now, people think you need to be part of a certain organization or group, but credit unions have evolved,” Mikkola said.

Though a credit union’s customers are called members, Mikkola said, becoming part of a credit union is the same as being a customer at another financial instituion, but with $25 deposited into an account, members at TLFCU get voting rights, and use that value to hold their membership.

“It’s very welcoming -everyone can join,” she said.

TLFCU is a not-for-profit cooperative, with a five- to seven-member Board of Directors, who are elected at an annual meeting. All members, the TLFCU website said, are encouraged to attend the annual meeting.

Credit Union members also often get discounts on other services and products, Mikkola said, and they can count on employees providing personal service.

“One of our main focuses is getting to know the people when they come in and they’re getting a membership, seeing what’s important to them, seeing what they need.”

Recently, the credit union extended its hours to provide more convenience for customers, especially those who commute from the Houghton/Hancock area.

“You want to make sure (members) can get here without trying to rush,” Mikkola said.

As for employee satisfaction, Mikkola said her favorite part of working at a credit union is the opportunity to get to know members, and to look forward to seeing them return.

“It’s not just somebody coming in and putting money in their checking – we have members that will come in and visit, and you get to know them personally, you know what’s going on. Whether it’s good or bad, you’re there to support them.”

Torch Lake Federal Credit Union is located at 400 Hecla Street in Laurium. For more information, call 337-5565, or visit torchlakefederal.com.