I. The Past - History of Members' Advantage Credit Union
Ahdawagam Credit Union
Ahdawagam Credit Union was chartered in 1932 and named after its original sponsor, the Ahdawagam Division of Consolidated Water Power and Paper Company. The field of membership of the credit union included all employees of the Ahdawagam Division and their families. On September 10, 1932, ten co-workers of the Ahdawagam Division met during the noon hour under a pine tree near the company's buildings. There these first ACU members pooled $221.01 and signed the charter establishing the credit union. The ten founding members were: Fred Zager, Albert Winkels, Harold Getzlaff, Fred Knuth, L.D. Hauley, William Johnson, Bruno Berger, Jr., Henry Klerew, George Smallbrook, and Charles Hyland.
The charter was approved by the State of Wisconsin one month later on October 11, 1932. The purpose of the credit union as stated in the original charter was "to form a corporation, the business and purpose of which shall be raising money to be loaned among its members."
The first "office" of the credit union was in the home of Fred Zager, one of the founding members, and business was conducted at his dining room table. During the early 1940's, the office was relocated to a small wooden building called the "gardner's shack" on Ahdawagam's company grounds. Consolidated Papers donated an old roll-top desk with no lock for the office and board meetings were conducted there with directors sitting on two 10' long plank benches and using a board across the top of a wheelbarrow as a table.
The third office of the credit union was in the Ahdawagam Division employee lunchroom. A safe was purchased at that time after a burglary took place there. The fourth location was a more spacious room, located near the loading docks in the southeast corner of a company building on Fremont Street. The first four locations were provided by Consolidated Papers at no cost to the credit union. However, as the credit union continued to grow, it moved its office to a historical building located at 133 Second Street in Wisconsin Rapids, renting the space at first and then eventually purchasing it in 1976.
Biron Credit Union
Biron Credit Union was chartered in 1935 and named after its original sponsor, the Biron Division of Consolidated Papers, Inc. The field of membership for the credit union included all employees of the Biron Division and their families. On August 28, 1935, the following nine founding members signed the charter establishing the credit union: Catherine Sweeney, Marie Kahoun, J.R. Kahoun, Earl Rittinhouse, John T. Carroll, S.W. Bramble, Mike Jinsky, W.W. Schoenick, and P.B. Powers.
The charter was approved by the State of Wisconsin Banking Department on September 9, 1935 by Peter Cleary, Commissioner. The purpose of the credit union as stated in the original charter was "to promote thrift among its members and to loan its funds to them for provident purposes." The first business transactions processed by the credit union were conducted out of a millwright's toolbox at the Biron Division.
Significant events which have occurred over the years include an expansion of the credit union's field of membership in 1974 to a community-based charter to include all persons residing or employed in the Village of Biron. In 1989, a branch office was opened at 1610 Lincoln Street in Wisconsin Rapids.
Ahdawagam CU + Biron CU = Members' Advantage Credit Union
ACU and BCU had both existed for over 60 years, with both having the same sponsor of their original charter, namely, Consolidated Papers, Inc., when they entertained the idea of merging. Both credit unions served a similar geographical area and membership base. Both were in strong financial condition and nearly identical in asset size - about $17M at the time.
The Board of Directors of Ahdawagam Credit Union and of Biron Credit Union approved a consolidation plan at a special membership meeting of Ahdawagam CU on Tuesday evening, December 10, 1996 at the Mead Inn, and at a special membership meeting of Biron CU on Wednesday evening, December 11, 1996 at the Biron Community Hall. The official effective date of the consolidation was July 1, 1997 to enable each credit union to conduct year-end accounting and independent audits. Members' Advantage Credit Union emerged as the new credit union. The name was chosen to reflect the principle of being a member-owned and operated institution, to symbolize the advantages that would be achieved by working together and to eliminate any reference that associated the credit union to a specific demographic area or employer. As of that date, all of the records, accounts, members, assets, liabilities and reserves were consolidated to form the single $34 million credit union with approximately 13,000 members.
Tom Bulin became the President/CEO of Members' Advantage Credit Union. At that time, the credit union had four locations: 133 Second Street North, 3211 Eighth Street South, 460 North Biron Drive, and 1610 Lincoln Street. The field of membership was open to anyone living or working in the Central Wisconsin area.
In the spring of 1999, the Board of Directors decided to close MACU's Eighth Street office. It was determined that the number of member transactions conducted at the location could not support the level of expenses incurred each month to maintain the branch office.
In December of 2001, Members' Advantage closed the doors of its Biron branch office and in January of 2003 our 2nd Street location was closed.