While Bert J. Hash Jr. has held only one job in the credit union movement, his record of success in that position has earned him one of the industry’s top honors. Hash, president/CEO of MECU of Baltimore in Maryland, is being honored as CUES Outstanding Chief Executive for 2012 on Nov. 4 at CEO Executive/Team Network™.
His nomination for the award by the MECU Board of Directors came as a shock to Hash, a CUES member who has worked in the financial services industry for 43 years. Hash was attending a baseball game of his beloved Baltimore Orioles when he received an unexpected phone call from CUES Chairman Lary McCants, CCD, CCE. The president/CEO of $856 million IBM Southeast Employees’ Federal Credit Union, Boca Raton, Fla., was calling to notify Hash of his selection.
“I was totally surprised, honored and humbled at the same time,” recalls Hash, who has been at the MECU helm since 1996. “I’m grateful for the recognition, but it’s something I accept on behalf of the (MECU) team, because they are the ones who make it happen.”
During 16 years under Hash’s leadership, MECU has grown from a single branch into a multi-location institution covering the Baltimore area. Among the major factors in that expansion are Hash’s rapport with the credit union’s employees, board and members, his commitment to serving the community, and a dedication to constant training for himself and the staff.
Since 1996, MECU has erupted in size from what Hash calls “a mom and pop shop” into a “supermarket.”
“We had 60 employees starting 16 years ago. We have 300 today. We had 50,000 members and $430 million in assets in 1996. Today, we have 100,000 members and $1.2 billion in assets,” explains Hash. “We had one branch in 1996 with seven tellers. We now have nine branches and a couple of student branches. This has happened because we have worked together as a team and have helped each other to learn.”
MECU Chairman Herman Williams Jr. explains that the board in 1996 wanted more MECU branches, better employee training and improved marketing.
“We also needed to come into the computer age,” says Williams, who has chaired the MECU board for the past 21 years. “We gave Bert his marching orders and he was off and running.”
In 1996, the few MECU tellers had little time to interact with any of the members besides saying “next,” says Hash. “We couldn’t develop a conversation with the members. We needed to give the employees time to give the members the services they deserved.”
At his first meeting with his employees, Hash says he told the staff that “I would take care of them and they would take care of the members. What I meant was that I was going to make sure [the employees] had a safe and nurturing environment at MECU. I would provide the training and expertise the staff needed to be successful. Their job was to develop a relationship with the members that we didn’t have before.”