Financial services in many cities are offered only by banks.
Here in Redlands, they are also available at Alta Vista Credit Union, which has successfully survived and served during several changes in its location.
“In 2018, we celebrated 75 years of continuous service, proud to continue our original purpose,” said Danial Herrera, the branch manager.
“Alta Vista was chartered as a Credit Union for service personnel and their families, to provide financial services on Norton Air Force Base. The union directors were selected from the membership of the credit union.”
Credit unions, under the guiding rules of the NCUA, (National Credit Union Association) are formed not only by federal employees, but other groups, such as police, fire, schools and even large corporations, to offer financial and other services. Banks are business organizations, guided by the rules of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.).
After Norton Air Base closed, the directors and members of Alta Vista wanted to continue their membership program and expand with products and other services for the community in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
Their office remained at Norton for a time, changing names from Norton Community Credit Union to San Bernardino Credit Union and then to Alta Vista Credit Union.
Relocating to Redlands, Alta Vista moved several times within its boundaries and then settled in the two-story building at 1425 W. Lugonia Ave., Redlands, where they have been for the past 14 years.
Herrera explained that the original purpose of “looking out for each member’s interests and needs” is being faithfully continued by each one of the 37 employees at the Redlands site and the branch in Rialto.
The service philosophy, which must be reflected by each employee, he described as “caring.”
He said their training was not to develop a sales culture, and is different in that each employee spends time learning what other employees provide in the various service departments.
In their cycle of learning, each employee learns how to read a credit report, how to set up online banking and bill payment, about various loans and other services that are not usually expected, or provided, from a regular employee behind the service counter.
With this knowledge, when speaking with a member, an employee can recognize possible needs and wisely recommend specific services from another department.
He described the Alta Vista staff as thus being, “full circle” employees.
With knowledge about each of the services, an employee, in conversation with a customer, can recognize an apparent need and be able to provide relative information and solutions.
The customer need not be referred to “someone else” when they are served by “caring” employees
The manager said these services may include helping someone improve their credit or have it set up again, help with home purchase, auto purchase, set up savings accounts, set up online banking, provide cards for ATM use, automatic bill payments, etc.
When asked what he recalls as memorable events in his career at Alta Vista, Manager Herrera replied: helping an 18- year-old obtain his first car; educating someone on how to improve their credit; meeting a family’s first new baby and setting up a savings account for college; helping a couple consolidate their financial affairs so they can pay for their wedding; reviewing an audit with a couple after bankruptcy or life event and also, having the time to get to know people, whoever they are and whenever they come to us for “caring.”