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Second Bakersfield-area credit union drops 'Kern' branding

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Kern Schools Federal Credit Union of Bakersfield, Calif., is changing its name to Valley Strong Credit Union effective Feb. 18.

The name change will allow the $1.7 billion-asset credit union to expand beyond Kern County and position itself to serve more members within the wider region.

Stephen P. Renock, IV, president and CEO of Valley Strong Credit Union, formerly known as Kern Schools FCU
Stephen P. Renock, IV, president and CEO of Valley Strong Credit Union


“We are the same financial institution you have trusted for more than 80 years,” President and CEO Stephen P. Renock, IV, said in a press release. “People have a lot of financial options these days. We want to make sure we position the credit union for current and future success, and help consumers realize their financial goals right here in the Valley.”

A wider suite of products and services will accompany the new name, ranging from business banking to new ATMs and longer hours at the contact center. Some service fees are also reportedly being reduced, though the credit union did not specify which fees or by how much.

The credit union is also in the process of converting to a state charter, having already received preliminary approval from state and federal regulators. Members voted in December to approve a conversion and "certificaiton results have now been sent to [regulators] so we are just awaiting final approval," CU representatives said in an email.

As the largest financial institution based in Kern County, the CU serves over 150,000 members across 10 branches. Call report data reflects that the credit union earned $14 million in net income through the third quarter of 2019, up 2% compared to the same period the year prior.

Early last year, a similarly named Bakersfield credit union also rebranded in a move away from the Kern name.

This story was updated at 9:58 P.M. ET on Jan. 27, 2020.

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