The second installment of Your League’s newest Management Notes series An Interview With has Brian Trotter, Manager/CEO of EPB Employees Credit Union, joining us.
What was your first job overall and what was your first credit union job? How did you get brought into the industry?
Three days after my 16th birthday I went to work at Red Food Stores as a Courtesy Clerk (a.k.a. bag boy) bagging groceries after school and on weekends. I worked there for three years until the end of June 1984. I graduated from Bradley Central High School a month earlier and was offered a job at a locally owned bank, First Citizens Bank, processing checks and running reports each night after the bank closed. Over the years I worked in many other positions; bank courier, bookkeeper, teller, head teller, mortgage loan processor, Assistant Branch Manager & Branch Manager. In 1998 I needed a change, something with a little less mental stress and something more physical, so I went to work in the Woodyard at Bowater Paper Mill in Calhoun, TN. Less than a year later a tree was dropped on me, breaking my leg and ankle (how’s that for being more physical?!). While laid up at home in my recliner I received a call from the Manager/CEO of the Cleveland/Bradley County Teachers Federal Credit Union, Cindy Hines. She created a new marketing position at the Credit Union and wanted me to tackle it. I gladly accepted. A year and a half later she retired and I was named as the new Manager/CEO.
Although I worked in banking for many years I knew of the Credit Union because my mother, a teacher, had been a member since I was a little boy. My mother left teaching and went to work at the Cleveland/Bradley County Teachers Federal Credit Union in 1991, as their Head Bookkeeper. She retired after 26 years just this past December.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received early in your career?
- When you’re dealing with people, you’ll do a whole lot better if you go not so much by the book, but by your heart.
- How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Did you ever have a moment when everything just clicked and you felt like what you were doing was what you were meant to do? Or did you feel you were meant to do something else?
(Laughing) There are times I bet, when others wished I was meant for something else!
I originally went to college and studied broadcast journalism, I was going to travel and report the news from all around the globe. I’ve tried a time or two to get away but the good Lord knows better and always brings me back to credit unions.
After 19 years now, there are numerous times that things have just clicked and I knew…THIS is where I was meant to be, THIS is what I was meant to do.
Can you give an inspirational story for how your credit union helped a member when a bank wouldn’t?
We had a casual member who, after many years of marriage, had gone through a bitter divorce and now her finances had her in a crunch. She asked her bank for help and although they were going to give it, it was our personal service and rates that were going to be a better fit for her. We were able to combine her mortgage and a 2nd mortgage, bring both to our credit union, refinance her car, pay a couple of other outstanding bills and save her more than $650.00 a month. She cried and hugged us all!
What’s the one thing that, when a young professional that reads this, you want them to take away?
You know, just a “few” short years ago it was Wade Stapleton, Fred Robinson, Van Bowden and myself that we were the young’uns looking to make and leave our marks on Credit Unions and I have to say that I’m proud of what we’ve done and accomplished thus far.
Now, I’m excited to see the what the future holds for the next credit union generation, what new heights will you take us? I want to encourage each of you to become engaged, interested…attend Chapter meetings, get involved with the Tennessee Credit Union League’s TNMIC, and to watch, learn, give and receive feedback from supervisors and your CEOs. #youarenext
Editors Note: Last week’s, TCUL held the 2017 TNMIC Conference in Chattanooga, TN. 75 young credit union professionals from across the state gathered to get motivated, be challenged to think outside the box and to connect with one another as they take more and more of a leadership role in the credit union industry. Their theme this year: #WeAreNext