Top 15 post: Kirk Smith

Community Development

Hi, I am Kirk Smith, an in store branch manager for TwinStar Credit Union. TwinStar is one of the 10 largest credit unions in Washington State. We have 24 branches and mine is the only one located inside of a Walmart. My branch was placed in a new county in 2008, linking two of our more member concentrated counties. Since our Credit Union was new to this county, we opened our doors with a small number of current TwinStar members, who had joined in other counties and relocated to the Cowlitz County area. Cowlitz County is the home of five other credit unions, two of which have their corporate headquarters here and are in the top 15, based on asset size, in the state.

Fast forward four years, and I now have 635 members, and a total branch loan portfolio of just over $3M. We are growing each year in a market that is already saturated with credit unions and their members. Selling the credit union difference just isn't enough. Which is why I was approached by my vice president to think outside the box and create and implement a plan which will increase our branch growth.

To meet the goals that have been established, I have designed a threefold focus for growth. First, we will focus on non-members; second we’ll serve the unbanked and underbanked, and third will be businesses and their employees.


With only 635 members assigned to my branch, you can imagine that by now we have asked them to refer their friends several times with varying amounts of success each time. Which is why I plan on purchasing a name database from a vendor and sending them direct mail pieces with special offers and promotions. Having access to these names which otherwise we would not have, will prove to be very valuable, if they are coupled with the right incentive to join.

Unbanked or Under Banked

The second focus of my strategy is serving the Unbanked and Underbanked. Cowlitz County has suffered it's share of job loss in this economy. In a county that has an 11% unemployment rate, and nearly 23% of the population receives food assistance each month, being underbanked or even unbanked is common. I plan to propose a payday lending alternative that will begin to help these individuals and families begin to climb out of the financial holes they find themselves in. The program I will propose will have a savings component to it so the new members will be better off each time they use this product. As for competition, none of the credit unions currently in our market offer a similar product. As I have stated in my video, I believe that we must become and remain relevant to the community. With that relevancy comes the branch growth I am trying to create. 

Businesses and their employees

Currently TwinStar has a great business development/ business services department. This department is staffed with industry experts and professionals that really cut to the core of business needs and providing solutions to them. I propose we hold what I am calling a BDO blitz. One week we will send out a mail piece which will notify local business owners that we will be visiting them during the week. I want to have each of our six BDO's and five other branch managers along with myself team up and canvas the streets to meet these local business leaders.

I also will enhance the partnership between TwinStar and Walmart, by sitting down with the store manager and asking her what we can do to help them increase sales and vice versa, and work with them to get all of their employees banked with my branch.

I know that if we use this threefold focus to increase branch growth, we will be successful. We will still rely on our current membership base as our foundation; while at the same time increase membership growth, loan portfolio, and relevancy in the community. 

Thank you for voting for me to be one of your Top 15 candidates for the Next Top Credit Union Exec. This has been a great opportunity for growth and I look forward to taking you along with me on this bold new journey of Branch Growth. Together we will go where no man has gone before. 


Kirk Smith, TwinStar Credit Union