BEST Credit Union: Redwood Credit Union

Redwood Credit Union celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, and to make life even sweeter, it also celebrates its win for Best Credit Union in the North Bay. Formed in 1950, the credit union was originally known as Sonoma County Employees Credit Union, operating out of the Sonoma County Auditor’s Office in Santa Rosa, on Old Courthouse Square. Seven county employees joined forces, creating the credit union to bridge loans to coworkers between paychecks and assist with other financial needs.

The business grew over the years into a full-service credit union, which now serves the counties of Sonoma, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Lake, Solano, Contra Costa and San Francisco. And what sets RCU apart from the others, is its mission of member service. “Our mission is to passionately serve the best interests of our members, employees and communities,” says Brett Martinez, president and chief executive officer.

“Credit unions were formed on a philosophy of people helping people,” says Martinez. “We’ve always adhered to cooperative principles and values that include honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.”

Today, RCU is the eighth-largest credit union in California, and with more than 5,000 credit unions in the country, it’s the 42nd largest in the U.S., boasting 365,000 members and more than $5 billion in assets. Additionally, RCU was ranked the fourth-healthiest credit union in the U.S. by Glatt Consulting, which measures financial and operational strength, growth, asset quality, asset and liability management and productivity.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important to do business with people and companies you trust—particularly when it comes to your finances,” says Martinez. “Credit unions provide all the same services as a bank—checking and savings accounts, loans and credit cards, business banking—but credit unions are cooperatives which means profits are actually invested directly back into the membership and the community.” Because RCU is 100 percent member owned, they don’t have publicly traded stocks, and are not directly impacted by stock prices. They closely monitor the economy and the environment, and are always focused on the wellbeing of its members, and its cooperative.

What makes RCU stand out amongst other credit unions? “We go left when others go right,” says Martinez. “During the last recession, we laid off no one, and hired additional staff. Everyone was working hard to support members going through a terrible time, losing employment, homes, cars and businesses. We came together as a team.” RCU also has a wellness program for employees, incorporating fun challenges and teamwork into their workdays from stretch breaks to hula-hoop competitions, and to wearing ugly sweaters during the holidays.

“On a personal level, the thing that makes us shine is we have fun together,” says Martinez. “I encourage everyone to have fun every day when they go to work.”

RCU looks forward to another 70 years, adhering to its mission and helping members reach their goals and dreams, every day. “When members vote for us as best anything, we’re extremely honored because that means they truly like us—how we’re serving them, what we’re doing in the community, how we make them feel,” says Martinez. “It’s special to us, and we’re really feeling the love.”

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