LAS VEGAS — Matt Kershaw, soon to be the next CEO of $572 million Clark County Credit Union, knows he has a rather large task ahead of him in replacing industry legend Wayne Tew.

Tew, who has been president and CEO of CCCU since 1986, is retiring on Aug. 21. Tew is a past chairman of the Nevada Credit Union League (2013 and 2014), served as the chairman of the NCUL's Governmental Affairs Committee this year, and has served two stints on the NCUL board. He also served on the American Share Insurance Advisory Board for 12 years.

Asked recently for his thoughts on taking the helm from such a well-known captain, Kershaw told Credit Union Journal, "I don't know that I am ready to step into those shoes."

Kershaw, who currently serves at Clark County CU's chief commercial officer, has been at the credit union for 10 years. When he arrived at CCCU, it did not have any commercial lending.

"I started building the portfolio in 2005, but then the recession hit and I had to work through some troubled loans," he recalled. "In the last few years I have helped build the residential real estate lending portfolio. We are good at commercial lending, but I think it is important to balance that with residential and commercial lending."

After Tew announced in late January that he planned to retire in August, CCCU launched a search that was coordinated by Susan Mitchell, CEO of the Mitchell Stankovic & Associates consulting firm here in Las Vegas. Kershaw said the process that led to him being selected for the position was "fun but grueling."

"It involved developing a plan for the future of the credit union," he said. "I want us to increase our asset size so we can create economies of scale and overcome some of the problems that face small-asset-size credit unions. There have been a lot of studies that have shown larger credit unions have received the lion's share of the business in the last few years."

When Clark County CU grows it has to be "reasonably and responsibly," and it has to help the community, Kershaw continued.

"That is why I want to increase our residential and commercial real estate lending, so people see we are a true partner in the community."

Filling A Void

The Las Vegas area lost a number of locally owned community banks during and after the financial crisis. As such, Kershaw says there are not a lot of institutions that are Clark County CU's size, meaning it and other area credit unions can "step in and fill that void."

"I think we are well-positioned to do so," he said.

Las Vegas does not have a large number of credit unions, but it does have several that are strong performers, including $750 million, community-chartered One Nevada CU, $659 million Silver State Schools CU, which serves educators and other school employees, and $144 million WestStar CU, which serves the gaming industry.

Kershaw said the other CUs "have their areas, and we have our own niche."

"I hate to say they are competitors, but the fact is we do overlap and attract some of the same members," he observed. "But we have a lot of respect for each other. It is not our intent to go and take members away from another credit union. With the recession there are bigger competitors in our market, including America First Credit Union from Utah. But I think all of us see our real competition is bigger banks and new competitors such as Walmart. It is important for credit unions to work together."

Special Mentor

Eric Jorgenson, chairman of the board for Clark County CU, said in a statement, "With more than 17 years in banking, Matt has demonstrated a strong commitment to learning, accepting new challenges and exceling at building relationships. His vision for the future builds upon the foundation in place with an eye towards working closely with both the senior team and all staff in collaboration on how to best serve our members."

Jorgenson thanked Tew for his contributions to CCCU, saying, "Wayne rightly deserves compliments for building our institution to the point of success we enjoy now, even guiding us through the recession of the past few years."

On Aug. 21, Tew's final day as CEO, he and Kershaw will both be at a conference, Kershaw noted.

Said Kershaw: "I really appreciate all Wayne has done for the credit union. He has been a mentor and I would not be where I am today without him. There were several other internal candidates who feel the same way. He has been part of the Nevada Credit Union League and has done a lot for all credit unions in Nevada. He has been very active in the political community and the community in general. He will be missed."

Founded in Clark County, Nevada in 1951, Clark County CU serves 35,455 Clark County employees, City of Henderson and City of Las Vegas employees, medical professionals, members of Nevada Public Radio (KNPR) and numerous selected employer groups. It has five branches throughout Southern Nevada.

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