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Fairwinds expansion result of flight to quality says CEO
ORLANDO, Fla. (2/1//08)--Fairwinds CU unveiled a $25 million expansion plan expected to add eight branches across Central Florida this year, as members are increasingly seeking better quality in their financial services, the credit union said. The $1.463 billion asset, Orlando, Fla.-based credit union, the state’s sixth largest, will increase its operations by more than 20% with the expansion. This is the second year in row that Fairwinds has expanded, as it opened seven branches in Central Florida in 2007 (Orlando Sentinel Feb. 8). Fairwinds has benefited from turmoil in the U.S. financial sector, and has seen a “flight to quality” as the credit union has gained members who became unhappy with services offered by other financial institutions--particularly mortgage and savings needs, said Fairwinds President Larry Tobin. Despite the spike in new business, Fairwinds’ branching strategy is primarily constituted to provide greater convenience to its existing members, Tobin said. The new branch locations were selected based on their proximity to current members, he added. Fairwinds remains a conservative credit union and does not think its expansion is risky, given the nation’s economic slowdown, Tobin said. The credit union’s high capital ratio suits it well in providing the best services possible to its members through branch expansion, he added.


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