MOLINE — It was supposed to be simply a stop-off on his way to Colorado, a resume builder to a Rocky Mountain future. Trouble was, the job already was in his blood.|
He wasn't going anywhere.
That banking-industry stop has lasted 43 years for modest-as-they-come Terry Brahm, retiring CEO of DHCU Community Credit Union. Today, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the DHCU corporate headquarters, 1900 52nd Ave., Moline, the East Moliner will be toasted for his leadership and guidance through four-plus decades.
"I thought it would be great to have some banking and finance on my resume, and that I would wind up like lots of others of that era in Colorado," said Brahm, an Erie native and son of a welder for Deere & Co., who also served as a credit union director for many years. "I had it already in my blood. I loved how much my dad cared and how much he looked forward to going to credit committee meetings. It rubbed off."
One of life's truly good guys, Brahm was named president and chief executive officer of what was then Deere Harvester Credit Union in 1976. He was hired as a loan officer in 1970, promoted to credit manager in 1973 and to assistant treasurer in 1975. He replaced retiring Norman Sachau as president one year later. Brahm said he will maintain a seat on the DHCU board of directors and remain active in membership needs after he retires.
Over the last 43 years, Brahm has led the credit union through eight mergers and eight branch expansions and has seen it grow from 7,000 members to nearly 41,000 members. He brought several financial firsts to the local market, including the area's first ATM in 1983 and one of the first credit-card programs offered by a local credit union.
Unique programs and lofty membership numbers aside, Brahm said it has never been just about him. He would not have had a job he has loved for more than 40 years without DHCU's members.
"It has always been about serving the members," said Brahm, who was named CEO of the Year in 1983 and 2004 by the Illinois Credit Union Executives Society. He's currently on the Revitalize and Develop East Moline Committee, and is a member of the Regional Opportunities Council of the Quad Cities. He also is an active supporter and fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of the Quad Cities, and he's involved with the development project at SouthPark Mall, Moline.
"Those members, the nearly 41,000 we have, made a choice to be part of DHCU, and it has always been our duty to meet their needs. If I don't believe that's how it is, how could I share with staff to buy in?" Brahm said.
When talk of retirement popped up, Brahm was reflective. He spoke glowingly about the 130 employees at DHCU, talked candidly about the ups and downs of the banking industry, and skirted politely discussion of the many governmental banking regulations of today.
There was a fondness in his voice for every stage of his career, even the tough times of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
"Deere and Company had just begun right-sizing to meet the challenges ahead," Brahm remembered. "And it was an era of car loans and signature notes. I had people I knew well who were laid off and battling to get back, trying hard to find work.
"We were 25 percent delinquent (in loans), and a state regulator came into my office and said we had to start taking back equity. Well, if we took a man's mode of transportation, he couldn't find a job. We made a lot of late-night phone calls, asking people to give us what they could — $5 or $10 a week — until they got going again. We showed faith in them, and people responded."
In a world where jumping from job to job is common, Brahm is a throwback to seeing things through. Saying farewell to the day-to-day working world will not be easy for him.
"It will be bittersweet," Brahm said. "The relationships you establish with those you work with and those you serve are ever-lasting. That's the tough part. The rest, with help from my dear wife, I can figure out."
Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or Jmarx@qconline.com.
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