By: Brian Wolfburg, President/CEO, VyStar Credit Union
One of VyStar’s main objectives for 2019 is well underway: to cultivate our growth within new communities, as well as forge a deep connection with those who live, work and play in those communities. One of the most effective ways to expand is through strategic mergers and acquisitions (M&A). When accomplished with the right partners, M&A can offer additional opportunities that increase market share and enhance member benefits—often more efficiently than internal growth alone. That is why, in 2018, VyStar made a tactical decision to search for partnerships that would effectively augment our organic growth.
Currently, VyStar’s branch expansion plan is a seven-year plan, which is reviewed and revised each year by our Board of Directors and Senior Management Team. This has been VyStar’s primary means for expanding in existing and new areas, however, it is a slow process. It can take years to grow and develop in this manner and for those new areas to be profitable for the credit union, as we incur the expenses of building branches and adding staff long before acquiring members, loans and deposits in these locations. M&A helps to fast-track us into our expanding field of membership and enables us to begin serving members in those new and adjacent fields of membership with ease and efficiency.
Earlier this year, VyStar announced an agreement to merge with our first acquisition partner, Citizens State Bank (CSB). CSB is a Florida state-chartered bank headquartered in Perry, Florida. Established in 1958, CSB is a financially sound community bank with over $280 million in assets. VyStar is committed to closely working with CSB customers to make the transition as seamless as possible, and we look forward to serving all their financial needs.
With the CSB acquisition and all future M&As for VyStar, the goal is simple: to grow into new markets and to bring the benefits of credit union membership to more people, while at the same time improving the operating efficiency as well as the safety and soundness of VyStar for our current members. We want VyStar to grow large enough to achieve even greater operational efficiencies that will help us compete with larger financial institutions so that we can continue to provide our members with lower fees, competitive rates and the best quality services. Through growth strategies like M&A, we have the ability to expand our geographic reach, which will help us to further our ultimate goal of bringing credit union products and services to more people.
Additionally, greater operational efficiency also helps us keep up with the cost and speed of technological changes, better absorb the increasing cost of compliance and regulation, compete for talent and provide best in class benefits. Lastly, M&A can provide members and employees with the best of both organizations since we will have the ability to offer expanded products and services, more financial assets and combined technology.
I am happy to report that our acquisition of CSB is on track and is scheduled to close August 2, 2019. But the work does not stop there, as we are constantly looking for additional ways to grow and expand. We look forward to finding even more ways to bring our credit union services to more communities in Florida and Georgia—through traditional, organic growth, as well as through M&A.
Thank you for growing with us and for helping us spread VyStar’s culture throughout new communities. I am pleased to see how many similarities exist between the values, visions and missions of our organization and others—especially the strong commitment we have to our members and the communities we serve.
VyStar Credit Union