Wausau Pilot & Review

Editor’s note: This regular feature shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses and organizations in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing [email protected].

This week’s featured Wausau-area business is Connexus Credit Union, which currently has 14 branches open to the public including 10 in Wisconsin. Jennifer Eberhardy, Content Strategist and Copywriter at Connexus, said the company is thrilled to announce its investment in a new, innovative Connexus branch in Rib Mountain at the intersection of North Mountain Road and Hummingbird Lane. Set to break ground in September and open next summer, this signature branch will feature modern amenities including digital self-service stations to limit wait time and maximize efficiency; a spacious and comfortable fireside waiting area; a comprehensive Solutions Center for member services; and more. The exterior will showcase a modern, Northwoods architectural style to complement the Granite Peak backdrop and a five-lane drive-thru with an ATM for 24/7 member and community convenience.

“We’re grateful for the warm welcome we’ve already received from the Town of Rib Mountain and look forward to serving local residents when we open next summer,” Eberhardy said.

While some credit unions have stringent eligibility requirements, Connexus membership is open to people who make a $5 donation to the Connexus Association, which will be used for charitable giving. Applying online is quick and easy, too, and takes just a few minutes to complete. Here, Jennifer talks about the organization’s commitment to making a difference in the community, what makes Connexus unique – and what makes Wausau such a great place to do business.

Connexus will open a new Rib Mountain location soon. Contributed photo

Give me a brief history of Connexus Credit Union – when did it all begin?

Connexus believes in making a difference in the lives of our members and the communities we serve – a commitment we’ve taken to heart since day one. Founded in 1935 as Employers’ Mutual Credit Union, Connexus started with a simple mission that was quite novel at the time: to provide residents with a member-owned alternative to corporate banks.

In 1975, we celebrated our 40th anniversary with more than $10 million in assets and eclipsed $3 billion in assets in 2020. Today, under the leadership of Boyd Gustke, President & CEO, Connexus has grown to over $4.9 billion in assets and nearly 650 employees serving more than 430,000 members across all 50 states. Over the years, Connexus has undergone two re-brandings and completed nine successful mergers while honoring our steadfast commitment to the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.”

What’s the difference between a bank and a credit union?

Unlike for-profit banks that are privately owned or publicly traded by a group of individuals or shareholders, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations owned and managed by their members. Because banks are in business to make a profit, they generally charge more fees and offer less competitive rates. But credit unions focus more on the profitability of their members and therefore return surplus funds to members in the form of higher dividends, competitive rates on loans, enhanced services, and innovative, diversified products. From its early beginnings to present day, Connexus has always been committed to fostering prosperity for its member-owners across the country.

What is your organization’s mission – and what makes Connexus different from other financial institutions in the area?

In June of 2021, we shared our new vision – an evolution of our previous mission statement and a thoughtfully redesigned blueprint for future growth and success. Our vision is to be a nationally relevant, trusted credit union, providing exceptional experiences and fostering prosperity for those we serve.

What sets us apart from other financial institutions is that our strategic vision isn’t just words on a page. Underscored by our values, our vision is at the heart of everything we do. It guides the actions of the organization and everyone within it. We demonstrate our commitment to our vision and values in each personal interaction, phone call, and email — every day.

What types of financial products do you offer, and what do you specialize in?

Connexus is proud to return profits to member-owners through high yields for checking accounts and deposit products, as well as competitive rates for personal, home, and auto loans. Members benefit from a multi-channel service model that includes a robust Digital Banking platform and highly rated Connexus App that are available 24/7, a fully staffed and trained Member Contact Center, Shared Branching, online chat support, and branch locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois.

One area in which we really shine is our member service. At Connexus, we believe in delivering service that isn’t perceived as merely positive, but that stands out as truly exceptional. Through our collaboration with industry-leading business partners and our values-driven, daily interactions with members and employees, we work tirelessly to create journeys that are as effortless and fulfilling as their outcomes.

In what way does your credit union support the communities it serves? Tell us about those efforts and why it matters to you.

If you asked our members to choose the tenet of our strategic vision that resonates the most, they’d likely choose our commitment to fostering prosperity. That’s because Connexus is known for helping members fulfill their individual financial aspirations by providing high deposit yields, low loan rates, fewer fees, as well as generously giving back to the communities we serve through our philanthropic program, Connexus Cares.

Connexus Cares fosters prosperity by giving with purpose to organizations that provide basic humanitarian needs like food, shelter, and crisis services, as well as those that advocate for at-risk youth, seniors, and veterans. For the past 16 years, we’ve been honored to serve as the sole Presenting Sponsor for the Relay for Life event in Wausau, Wisconsin, to raise funds for and support the mission of the American Cancer Society®. In 2021, we made history with our largest single donation to date, $1 million to Community Partners Campus, and our most generous annual giving total of over $2.5 million. We’re well on our way to achieving even more ambitious giveback goals in 2022 by empowering our employees to support the organizations they love by using paid, company-sponsored Volunteer Time Off (VTO) hours.

You recently completed a merger with another credit union. Tell us about that.

On August 1, we officially completed our merger with DeForest-based Heritage Credit Union (HCU), a partnership that brought growth and value to both organizations and made us stronger together. We were proud to offer a role on the Connexus team to every HCU employee, and the synergy we’ve seen between existing and new employees is a testament to the alignment of both organizations’ culture and values.

The truest measure of a merger’s success though is the value it brings to members. We’re thrilled with the positive feedback we’ve received from members about the many benefits they’re already enjoying with Connexus, including our highly rated Connexus App and robust Digital Banking platform, expanded call center hours and offerings, and competitive and nationally recognized products and services.

What makes Wausau a great place to do business?

For the past 87 years, Connexus has been proud to play a part in Wausau’s rich, 150-year history. Over time, we’ve seen the city solve problems through innovation and resilience without losing sight of its thoughtful, forward-thinking plans for future growth. Connexus shares the same passion for dreaming big, innovating, and planning strategically, and our commitment to our member-owners’ prosperity is much like Wausau’s commitment to improving the quality of life for its residents. We’re proud to be a prominent resident of the Hwy 51/29 corridor as it continues to develop and look forward to giving back to residents and partnering with local businesses to support the city’s economy and overall growth.

Connect with Connexus Credit Union