PHILADELPHIA-Eagle One and SERVCO FCUs have opened a joint branch in the Rhawnhurst section of Northeast Philadelphia.

Eagle One Marketing Director Jim Maloney said that the $45-million CU doesn't have much of a presence in the northeast, and had tried a similar arrangement a few years ago with Rhawnhurst CU that didn't work, but after Rhawnhurst CU merged into SERVCO earlier this year, the two CEOs decided to give it another try.

The agreement between the two CUs will see them splitting all operational expenses 50/50, while Eagle One will pay a monthly rent to SERVCO for use of the facility. Maloney would not reveal the amount of that rent, but said in an e-mail that it "is at a modest discount to market rents."

Eagle One is more than 20 times larger than SERVCO, but Maloney stressed that the partnership is not a precursor to a merger. "The idea here is for Eagle One to enjoy the convenience of having that branch office for their members and then sharing expenses," he said. "We run a tight ship at Eagle One, and these days especially, it's a fine line between making a couple dollars and not making a couple dollars. This was more about the financial and expense aspect of it all."

Maloney was similarly bullish about the odds of one CU carrying the weight for the other. "SERVCO being as small as they are, if they end up doing really well in there, I don't feel that Eagle One would be threatened by that or anything along those lines. On the flip side, if it does turn into a really busy office for Eagle One, while SERVCO will still have their people in there and be doing business, Eagle One is still paying them rent, so I think there's a win there for them."

The branch is open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, with one MSR for each CU available, as well as separate back office staff for each institution. Each credit union will maintain one of the three teller windows, with the third window likely to remain empty until word gets out and traffic starts picking up at the branch, said Maloney.

Eagle One is informing members of the new location via its newsletter and its website, and Maloney said that members of both CUs seem to be open to the collaboration, with little confusion. He noted that SERVCO is a small CU-1,100 members, $2.7 million in assets-with no web presence or even a newsletter, and Maloney said that Eagle One CEO John King hopes to help them with some of those needs, though nothing definite has been laid out yet.

"We want to be a friend to the little guy, because we were a little guy at one point, too," said Maloney.

Eagle One and SERVCO aren't the first Philadelphia-area CUs to enter into a joint branching agreement. Keystone FCU and Sun East FCU began a similar partnership in 2011 ("Sun East, Keystone FCUs Join Together To Open Joint Branch," May 30, 2011). Maloney said that Eagle One was aware of that joint branch, but that it was not a model for this one, and CEOs at those credit unions were not consulted.


A Lesson For Others

Maloney stressed that this partnership is a lesson for other credit unions in the value of give and take. "It takes the right kind of management teams to be able to do this," he said. "In this case you have two very cooperative management teams with the same philosophy of people helping people, and they put it into use every day, not just in this example. What comes first is doing the right thing, doing it the right way and leaving the egos at the door."

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