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It Started in a Shoebox

From modest beginnings in 1953, Gesa Credit Union has grown from a part-time office operating out of a shoebox to the fifth largest credit union in Washington state, serving over 150,000 members around the world. Gesa Credit Union has a rich history of providing financial services to Eastern Washington; its spirit still reflects the early-day motto, "people helping people."

Since 1996, when Gesa became a community-chartered credit union and opened its field of membership to everyone in Washington, the credit union experienced explosive growth. Consumers have discovered the value of banking with a not-for-profit cooperative. Gesa now has sixteen Member Service Centers (MSCs) and one Loan Center in six counties, but continues to show a commitment to its roots. People in our communities have made Gesa what it is today, and we don't take that loyalty for granted. Those members affirm our motto, "It's not where you bank. It's where you belong."

What Does the Future Hold For Gesa?

Gesa continues to add services and products that are convenient, economical and desirable for our growing communities. Increased electronic services, multilingual access, and support for convenient member services is a priority for Gesa now and in the future.

Whatever the future may hold, the goal of the board, management, and staff will be the same: to bring quality, economical financial services to Gesa members, wherever they may live.

Image of a shoebox

1953 - 1980

1953: Stories told by Tri-Cities' residents of 1953 reflect the credit union’s "people helping people" spirit. At that time, it was difficult to find a lender willing to make needed consumer loans. As a result, members of General Electric Supervisor's Association (G.E.S.A.) formed GESA Federal Credit Union in 1953 to serve the 2,600 exempt employees of G.E. The first account receipts were held in a shoebox.

1957: First located in what was known as the 703 Building, the credit union grew to a membership of 975 with assets of $230,000 by 1957. At that time Gesa relocated, renting two rooms which opened on the alley in the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland. The office which had kept its first records in a shoe box and other cardboard boxes had furnishings consisting of one desk, a table, and a file cabinet.

1959: The Board of Directors of the six-year-old, $600,000 credit union hired its first full-time manager.

1963: With 3,000 members and assets of more than $2 million, Gesa moved into its first member-owned building at 710 The Parkway in Richland.

1971: With 4,600 members and assets of $7 million, Gesa moved into a new building at 723 The Parkway. During the ten years that members were served in this facility, the credit union grew from $7 million to over $57 million.

1977: The credit union opened its first Kennewick branch on Canal Drive near Columbia Center.

1981 - 1999

1981: With $57 million in assets and 21,000 members, Gesa moved to its new Goethals and Mansfield building in Richland.

1983: Membership was opened to select employee groups who could not support a credit union of their own. The 80s also saw the addition of telephone access to accounts through Call-24, and a Visa Credit Card was added to its loan services.

1989: Gesa invested in a new 5800 sq. ft. building in central Kennewick to serve the growing membership living in that area.

1992: Home Equity Loans were added, further enhancing the credit union's loan offerings.

1995 to 1999: Gesa added a variety of services for members including educational seminars on car-buying and financial products; an Internet web site with on-line newsletters; a Visa Debit Card, Living Trust Accounts; walk-up ATM machines; and an Internet on-line account access service called Online Banking.

1997: Gesa converted from a federal to a state charter credit union. This decision came as a result of legislation which prevented Gesa (and other federal credit unions) from expanding beyond their core membership. As local layoffs increased and the Hanford area continued to shrink due to downsizing, Gesa's board of directors determined that converting to a state charter was the best way to ensure future diversity and stability for the credit union. After conversion to a state charter, Gesa received a community charter to serve anyone who lived, worked, worshipped or went to school in Benton or Franklin Counties.

1998: A West Richland office was opened in late 1998 to serve members living in that growing community.

2000 - Present

2000: In February, Gesa became the second credit union in the state to sponsor a high school credit union. Richland High School Credit Union opened as a learning co-op with Gesa, operated and run by the Accounting Class of RHS. Gesa offered this same opportunity to all area high schools as well. In July 2000, Gesa added 2,900 members with the merger of Wa-Two Federal Credit Union in Walla Walla. In October, Gesa was granted a community charter in Walla Walla County, giving residents of that area a competitive choice in financial services. The Walla Walla area is one that continues to grow and offers great potential for the future of its residents.

2001: In early 2001, Gesa opened its newly expanded Kennewick Member Service Center (MSC), and soon thereafter, opened a new MSC in Pasco at 2202 W Sylvester Street. Both of these full-service MSCs provide drive-through tellers and ATMs, plus modern facilities to better serve members in those communities. In the fall of 2001, Gesa opened its second High School Credit Union at Hanford High in Richland.

2002: Gesa attained another grand milestone by reaching the $500 million in assets mark. The phenomenal growth of Gesa (of nearly doubling its size in five years) was primarily due to a change in charter, which allowed Gesa to offer excellent savings and loan rates to a much larger market. Gesa continued to be a leader in loans for the area.

2004: Gesa members welcomed access to their accounts in Wenatchee. This new MSC was the result of a merger with Apple Valley Credit Union.

2005: In the Spring, Gesa opened its third Tri-City High School Credit Union at Pasco High. In November, a new Member Service Center (MSC) located at 1005 N. Wenatchee Avenue was built to serve the Wenatchee community.

2006: Gesa opened a new facility in West Richland at the corner of Bombing Range Road and Paradise Way.

2007: In April, Gesa opened a new Member Service Center (MSC) in South Richland in the Columbia Center/Meadow Springs area on Gage Boulevard. In July, the Board of Directors hired a new President and CEO. In November, Gesa opened a new full-service MSC in Walla Walla located at 1355 W. Poplar Street.

2008: In May, Gesa merged with Walla Walla Valley Federal Credit Union at Tietan and 2nd Street in Walla Walla. With two Member Service Centers (MSCs) in Walla Walla, the merger brought increased access and convenience to Walla Walla members and helped increase Gesa’s assets to nearly $700M. In October, Gesa opened a second Pasco MSC in West Pasco at 5426 North Road 68 with a drive-up teller window, our first deposit-taking ATM and full credit union services for the growing community of West Pasco.

2009: Having outgrown its headquarters in Richland, Gesa once again planted its roots firmly in Tri-Cities soil. A new four-story operations facility was constructed in South Richland in the business and shopping hub of the Tri-Cities. The LEED-certified facility has a full service Member Service Center (MSC) on the main floor, along with training and meeting rooms. Drive-up service consists of four lanes on the main level. The 76,000 sq. ft. building will house Gesa's administrative offices. LEED certification means that the building will be built and operated with environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. Gesa's new South Kennewick MSC, also LEED-certified, opened in late 2009, as well as its fourth Tri-City High School Credit Union, Chiawana High in Pasco.

2010: We reached new heights at the end of 2010 with over $1 billion in assets and 10 branches. Gesa opened the South Richland/Headquarters and Kennewick Member Service Centers (MSCs) and remodeled the Richland MSC. Gesa also began offering automated cash dispensers, free coin counters, member web stations and biometric safe deposit box access.

2011: In 2011, Gesa welcomed our 100,000th member. To recognize and honor our milestone, Gesa pledged to contribute $100,000 annually to our community partners, Habitat for Humanity and Junior Achievement. Gesa also introduced the Platinum Plus Rewards credit card and 4U Student Checking and Savings accounts.

2012: There were exciting new community partnerships during 2012, with the sponsorship of the Carousel of Dreams in Kennewick and the Power House Theatre in Walla Walla.

2013: Gesa celebrated our Diamond Anniversary - 60 years of serving our members and communities. For the last 60 years, Gesa has been a key player in ushering in the cultural development and betterment of our communities. Gesa also opened two new Member Service Centers (MSC); one in East Wenatchee and one in North Richland, and introduced Personal Teller Machines (PTMs) into our MSC network. The PTMs utilize video banking which provides a cost effective way of providing members with more MSC locations.

2014: In 2014, Gesa instilled a powerful new mantra of “Every Member Matters,” which has continued to shape our service culture at Gesa. We experienced growth when we merged with Yakima’s Central Washington Federal Credit Union, allowing us to open our first Member Service Center (MSC) in the Yakima area. We also opened two new MSCs in the Tri-Cities to better serve our members; the Queensgate MSC in South Richland and the West Pasco MSC. We also added EMV chip technology to our credit cards and new electronic services in the form of electronic person-to-person payments.

2015: In 2015, Gesa staff and members engaged in supporting over 60 community and non-profit organizations through volunteerism and donations. We reached new heights when we hit $1.5 billion in assets and offered members 16 Member Service Centers (MSCs). In terms of expansion, we merged with Northland Credit Union in Spokane, completed a renovation of our Pasco MSC, and also opened a MSC in Moses Lake to serve the significant number of Gesa members living and working in the greater Grant County region. We also partnered with the Kennewick School District to offer branded high school instant issue debit cards for the three Kennewick high schools.

2016: During 2016, we strategically invested in improvements to make your banking relationship more convenient, easier to access, and more secure. We expanded and enhanced our Member Service Center network with the addition of our 17th location on Yakima's South 1st Street, along with renovations at our N. Spokane and Yakima N. 40th Service Centers. We also launched a safer way to pay for every day purchases: debit cards with EMV chip technology. We also partnered with Richland High School, Tri-City Americans, and Tri-City Dust Devils to offer three new branded instant issue debit cards.

2017: During 2017, we continued to make an impact by investing in more convenient, accessible, and secure ways to bank with Gesa. We expanded our service center network with the addition of our Spokane Valley location to serve our growing Spokane membership. The addition of our loan center in downtown Spokane offers convenient access to home and commercial lending products to the Spokane community. We focused on promoting our self-service check deposit options, providing you with faster, more convenient access to your money. And, we launched Card Controls, a new way to protect our members from card fraud.

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