LOS ANGELES-These days you'll find Phil Perkins hanging drywall, puling electric wire, and swapping out old plumbing-a big change for the former CEO of Western Bridge Corporate FCU who guided the organization during its conservatorship.

But it's not a bad change, for at least a while, said Perkins, who spent the latter part of 2012 working on his own Los Angeles home and then rehabbing a new property he picked up in late August.

"In many ways this is therapeutic," said Perkins. "I realized, in hindsight, what we all went through at WesCorp-the continual downsizing that took place over those three years and the eventual final wind-down and liquidation. It was pretty stressful. I don't think I realized how stressful it was at the time, you never do when you are in the middle of something like that."

But away from the hectic business lifestyle, it's become easier to put things into perspective, offered Perkins, whose walk to the office these days is 20 yards down the hill on his eight-acre horse ranch to the home he's re-doing. "I lace up my work boots and go. It's pretty nice."

Perkins expects that early next year he'll begin searching for a job in earnest. He just has not had the time, having a deadline from his lender to complete the home repairs prior to the end of January. Ironically, many of Wes Corp's problems were mortgage-related. Now, Perkins has picked up the home that's adjacent to his land in a short sale, and plans to move in with his family when the work is done.

"It needs a lot of repair. I knew there were many issues with the house and with a short sale you take the house as is," he said. "We pretty much had to tear the house down to its studs."

Perkins has been so busy that he chose not to respond to two job opportunities this summer, one within the CU industry. "I chose not to pursue those because I would have had to say I could not start until sometime next year. That would not have been right."

When the time is right, Perkins hopes to land a job within credit unions that is also close enough so he can stay on his current property. "Last year I said I would allow myself a year of not working to develop a local opportunity in credit unions. That puts me in the middle of next summer."

Outside of his construction duties last year, Perkins was brought in by NCUA to manage the wind-down of WesCorp, the one-time $32-billion corporate that suffered billions of dollars write-offs in its investment portfolio and was conserved by NCUA on March 20, 2009. Its former management team was dismissed. Efforts to recharter Western Bridge as a new corporate failed when credit unions declined to commit to investing.

 

Positives Out of a Negative

"While in my opinion the wind-down of WesCorp was tragic, from a process and systems perspective, in terms of the handoff of the business, it went very smoothly," said Perkins. "I have heard of no system glitches nor any impacts on credit unions. Everything went according to plan, if not better."

It's also been a trying year for Perkins, whose father, Audie R. Perkins, unexpectedly died at the age of 85 in August. Perkins said his father, who lived in Perkins' hometown of Oklahoma City, Okla., was able to travel to see the ranch before he passed away. Perkins acquired his carpentry and home-building skills from his father. "I learned a lot from my dad, and from making mistakes on the work site, which I am still doing."

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