LMCU Busy Building For Growing Membership

June 14, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — If good things come in threes, as the old adage promises, then this should be an exceptionally good year for the Lake Michigan Credit Union (LMCU).

The former CU Financial Group plans to build a trio of branches this year, two in Grand Rapids and one in Holland, which would give the region’s largest credit union 16 offices in four counties.

LMCU will break ground very soon on a new 3,200-square-foot branch at Plymouth and Leonard on the city’s northeast side.

The single-story, brick building will have a pair of drive-thrus, ATM machines and a price tag of about $650,000.

GMB Architects of Holland is designing the branch office, and the general contractor is expected to be John Bouwens Construction Co., also of Holland.

“We should be starting the Plymouth project between the 25th and the 30th of June,” said Leo Vicari, LMCU facilities manager. “We should be in that branch by the end of October.”

Jerri Schmidt, director of marketing and business development for LMCU, said that once the new branch opens an old one at 1425 Michigan NE would close. The new branch will be less than two miles from the old office.

LMCU, which had leased the Michigan Street building and shared it with some medical firms, will have more room on Plymouth and will be able to fill a members’ request at the new branch.

“One of the key areas that they asked for was more privacy when they are dealing with out-of-the-ordinary transactions, like loan requests and IRAs.

“This facility will actually have offices in it as opposed to cubicles,” said Schmidt. “Our members are looking for a little more privacy and we’re responding to what they’re looking for.”

Shortly after work gets underway at the Plymouth branch, LMCU will dig up the first shovel-full of dirt for a new branch in Holland.

The building, expected to be between 5,000 and 6,000 square feet, will go up on a one-plus acre site at the corner of Eighth and Waverly, with up to four drive-thrus and ATM machines.

Vicari told the Business Journal that the credit union would likely break ground on the Holland branch within three weeks of the Plymouth groundbreaking.

“There is a building on that site right now and that is coming down by the end of this week,” he said.

The Holland branch will be the largest of the three being built because LMCU is including a room that local groups will use for meetings.

“We are looking to be a real partner in the community. With the community room, we’ll have that available for seminars, business associations, neighborhood associations, the different pieces and parts of that community that need a space to meet. So we’ll have this room available for them to use,” said Schmidt.

“We have a large number of members that live in the Holland area and work in the Grand Rapids area. So they’re actually looking forward to having one of their own credit union branches in their own city,” she added.

The third of the three planned branches will go up on the metro area’s southeast side at Broadmoor and Kraft.

It will be another 3,200-square-foot branch, but it will also be the first one in that neck of the woods for the growing credit union. Groundbreaking there will happen in July, too.

“A recent survey that we did with our membership asked for the Caledonia market, and that is another example of how we’re responding to what our members are looking for as we expand our services. That was an area that they wanted us in,” said Schmidt.

LMCU has its own leasing company, and beginning next year the credit union will start selling previously leased vehicles to its members at the Broadmoor branch.

“We will be doing detailing on those cars and we will have someone on site to sell those cars,” said Vicari.

“That is something that has been in our strategic plan for a while,” said Schmidt of the dealership. “Again, it’s creating a response to the consumers and the marketplace and to what the members expect from their credit union.”

Lake Michigan officially became a community-charter credit union on March 1 after the state Office of Finance and Insurance Services gave it a green light in December to serve residents of Kent, Ottawa, Allegan and Muskegon counties.

LMCU has about 85,000 members and nearly $600 million in assets.

As for the construction schedule, Vicari said the trio of branches should be finished and open for business by the end of the year.

“We’re moving quickly,” he said.

“We’ve got three branches on the board right now, and possibly a fourth coming.”

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