A Lake Charles area credit union built by seven people for local plant workers 67 years ago is merging with a larger Baton Rouge credit union.
Firestone Lake Charles Federal Credit Union had more than 1,700 members at the time of the merger with Pelican Federal Credit Union.
Firestone was founded for employees of then-Firestone Polymers and later expanded to other industrial site employees in the 1980s. A few months ago, the board of directors sent a letter to members asking for approval of the merger. Leaders cited struggles to grow its membership and remain competitive due to its small size and balance sheet with two full-time employees.
The credit union grew to $12.5 million in total assets as of March, but was $15,720 in the red at the same time. That's compared to $28,675 of net income for the first three months of 2020, with $10.3 million in total assets.
"Challenges such as operational staffing, disaster recovery, and trends in electronic services such as mobile banking have impacted the credit union's ability to offer competitive and convenient services," Pam Theriot, board member at the Sulphur-based credit union, wrote in the letter.
The Sulphur credit union saw additional challenges during the coronavirus pandemic and "significant operational challenges from 2020 Hurricanes Laura and Delta," according to the letter.
Pelican State Credit Union had net income of $3.7 million as of March 31 with total assets of $570 million and nearly 300 employees. The Baton Rouge credit union has more than 50,000 members and was founded 60 years ago.
Note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the name of the Baton Rouge credit union.