La Porte Federal Credit Union celebrates 80 years

December 8, 2017

La PORTE COUNTY — True to its name, La Porte Community Federal Credit Union focuses on serving the community of La Porte County as this year it celebrates its 80th anniversary and moves forward with expansions.

Just like other credit unions, La Porte Community Federal Credit Union is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution. It began in 1937 as Allis Chalmers Credit Union, only serving the employees of that business. While other Select Employee Groups were added to the membership over the years, in 1993 it adopted a community charter; this meant that anyone living, working or worshipping in La Porte County was now eligible for membership (with a $25 deposit to open a savings account).

On Nov. 1 of this year, La Porte Community Federal Credit Union officially merged with South Shore Railroad Employees Federal Credit Union, which has been in operation since 1936.

“We were able to take all our full products and services and offer it to them. We had the same values as far as People Helping People (the credit union national slogan),” shared La Porte Federal Credit Union Chief Executive Officer Robbie Masterson. “It was a perfect fit.”

Its office, located inside the South Shore Train Station at 505 N. Carroll Avenue, is being renovated and will remain open. La Porte Community Federal Credit Union also offers its members another Michigan City branch location at 1315 Southwind Drive, which opened in 2007.

Several years ago, the credit union moved from its original Allis Chalmers location to 1304 Jefferson Avenue in La Porte, which still serves as its main office today. All this will change in 2018, however, as La Porte Community Federal Credit Union is breaking ground March 1 on a new 6,000-square-foot home office location on Boyd Boulevard, east of Walmart. The Jefferson Avenue location will still remain open as a branch.

“A lot of time and thought has went into this,” Masterson explained. “We have outgrown this space. Membership has grown by leaps and bounds in the past five years.”

La Porte Community Federal Credit Union has nearly 9,000 members and $40 million in assets.

Despite its growth, the credit union has retained its hometown family atmosphere.

For starters, plans for the new building include a multi-media room with an attached kitchen, restrooms and coat closet. Businesses, organizations and other community members are welcome to book the room for use free of charge; membership at LaPorte Community Federal Credit Union is not a requirement.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community,” emphasized Masterson. “Community involvement is very near and dear to me.”

And it shows. Every quarter the credit union chooses a cause to support through member donations and through Friday jean days in which employees can wear jeans in exchange for a donation. For the first and second quarter of 2017, the recipient was Michiana Humane Society & SPCA, and the third quarter saw an additional school supply collection for the La Porte Community School Corporation. This fourth quarter the credit union is participating in the Toys for Tots program. Next year the credit union will raise money for Riley Children’s Hospital January through May.

La Porte Community Federal Credit Union demonstrates its community commitment in a host of other ways as well. In the spring they held a Wine & Canvas Fundraiser that benefitted Meals on Wheels, in addition to a past Quarter Auction with members “bidding” with quarters on donated gift certificates and other items to raise money for a local child car accident victim.

Throughout 2015 and 2016, La Porte Community Federal Credit Union participated in Handley Hosting with staff volunteering in one-on-one tutoring for the kids in this La Porte elementary school. Staff members have also volunteered with Junior Achievement of La Porte County in Westville and La Porte schools. In addition, the credit union offers two annual $1,000 Wayne Lottes College Scholarships; the deadline is March 31 this year. The late Lottes was a former CEO of the La Porte Community Federal Credit Union.

Speaking of staff, La Porte Community Federal Credit Union employs 21, many of which have held their jobs for several years.

“The staff is phenomenal,” stressed Jarrod Allen, who is a members service representative/marketing director there. “We have a great team. They know the members’ names and engage in conversations with them. Members love coming in and feeling like they are at home. It’s about that member interaction – that one on one.”

“We really stand behind the philosophy of People Helping People,” added Masterson. “We really go into detective mode to see what can do to make their lives easier. We are always thriving on how we can help them.”

This help comes in the form of such products and services as savings, money market and checking accounts; CDs and IRAs, first and second mortgages, auto and recreational vehicle loans, Visa credit and debit cards, direct deposit and Ex-Tell 24-Hour Phone Assistance, free Home Banking and Online Bill Pay, Courtesy Pay, Shared Branching and more.

In late 2016, members began taking advantage of P2P where they can log into Online Banking and directly pay person-to-person, even if the recipient doesn’t have an account at La Porte Community Federal Credit Union. That year Pro Pay also became available whereby members can make a payment to La Porte Community Federal Credit Union from another financial institution.

In January 2017, La Porte Community Federal Credit Union began offering Picture Pay. Used in conjunction with Online Bill Pay, this new service allows members to pay bills quickly and easily through a snapshot of their bill.

“We really try to stay up on all the tech gadgets,” explained Masterson.

Also beginning in 2017 is the free Round-Up Savers program in which transactions are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the remaining change is automatically transferred into a special savings account. Members can make deposits or withdrawals at any time.

“We’ve had huge success with this program,” said Masterson.

There are other perks to membership at La Porte Community Federal Credit Union as well. Each year, members can purchase discounted tickets to Indiana Beach and Six Flags Great America. The Savvy Savers Kids Club members enjoy special events, contests and other added perks.

Every year in July, the credit union hosts a bus trip for members to see the Chicago Cubs in action, usually in a game against the Chicago White Sox.

“Tickets are sold out in the first 5 to 10 minutes – it’s a hug hit,” shared Allen, explaining that the credit union doesn’t make any profit on the trip and expenses are divided evenly.

The staff at La Porte Community Federal Credit Union is proud of another accomplishment. This year the city of La Porte under Former Mayor Blair Milo declared April 29 as La Porte Community Federal Credit Union Day because of their longevity of service to the community.

“We are the hometown credit union. We’ve been in the community 80 years,” noted Masterson.

For more information, including hours of operation, about La Porte Community Federal Credit Union call 326-8050, visit www.laportefcu.com or look up “La Porte Community Federal Credit Union” on Facebook.