CEO Success Stories
Living by Your Word at Verve
In a world of words and deeds that may or may not back up those words, those individuals and businesses that truly live by their word and values stand out.
Growing up in Cleveland and tracking well through his early youth from MBA to high-growth banking at National City (PNC), Kevin Ralofsky knew something wasn’t quite right. “I learned a lot and had good fortune at the bank but ultimately I wasn’t comfortable making money for lots of people and not worrying about the wake I left behind. I did worry about the integrity of the results. I have always been clear on my values: God, Family and Work. They must all align.” After 12 years at the bank and with his first son, Noah, recently born, he knew it was time for a change. “My wife Nancy and I decided we needed to find some useful work that was ours. We started an Urgent Care business, brought in MRI’s and ultimately integrated effective holistic medicine, including acupuncture.” While the business grew and working with family and the community was satisfying for Kevin and Nancy, as their family grew to include another son, Kyle, and a daughter, Celia, they opted to sell the centers and take a sabbatical.
The space to grow and focus on a meaningful next step led to Kevin’s entre into credit unions when he became CEO of Vacationland FCU in Sandusky. “I found, as most of us who started in banking do, that the move to credit unions was the best career change I could possibly make. The cooperative principles at Vacationland and within credit unions blended perfectly with who I am.” After achieving a solid 5 years of growth and stability, the opportunity to move to what was then CitizensFirst Credit Union in Oshkosh, Wisconsin was too good to pass up. “During the interview process I interviewed the Board as much as they interviewed me. It became clear that they understood and delivered well on the credit union mission and difference with a well-developed member-service understanding.”
There was great opportunity for growth. “I felt like I was free in the playground!” Taking time to work with and assess the team, a new culture steadily grew. “We were very fortunate to have two key leaders who have been at the credit union for years. Not only do they understand our community and legacy, they are key in moving us into the future with the newer members of our team. We have created and grown a culture and member relationships that is beyond refreshing. Re-branded as “ Verve, a Credit Union” the $600M credit union is growing with a robust health that is a pleasure to see. (This writer encourages you to take a look at www.verveacu.com for a look at a brand that is very credit union but unlike anything you have ever experienced) “We do invest in marketing, but we also take time to get to the optimal process. That focus on process never stops. We have moved from a team of generalists to a team of specialists. We have a team of experts in Talent Management and Culture, an in-house counsel who has a line of sight on Enterprise Risk Management, Project Management specialists, a phenomenal Marketing team and, of course a great bunch of entrepreneurs in every position. We are all entrepreneurs here!” The financial performance of the soon to be $750M, highly capitalized institution speaks for itself, but it is the culture that stands out. Bike clubs, shared (healthy) Wednesday meals and 2 pm walks are just part of the mix.
“Along with my core values I listen to others. Do your job well and you will be noticed. Fairness will carry the day and at the heart of it, all you have is your word.