One of Ladysmith’s most powerful and influential institutions is celebrating its 70th year in 2014.
Situated at the corner of Roberts and First Avenue, Ladysmith & District Credit Union (LDCU) was born in 1944, and current CEO John de Leeuw has been at the site for almost 19 years.
“We are a full-service financial institution, the same as any other major bank,” explained de Leeuw. “We do loans, mortgages, deposits, investments. We sell insurance be it home, auto, marine, RV. We have a wealth management subsidiary that deals in different types of investment vehicles like mutual funds. So we do everything that a bank does, except we do it better. Our hours are longer, our staff are better and our service is friendlier.”
De Leeuw says the credit union’s main target area for audience is within the town and surrounding areas, although it does have members from up and down the Island.
“Right now we have just over 5,000 members. So when you think of a town of 8,800 people, that’s a pretty good and powerful ratio.”
De Leeuw believes the credit union’s biggest asset is its community involvement and presence, something he is striving to continue for evermore.
“We occupy a fairly significant corner of the sector of downtown Ladysmith, which is going to expand. In the last year, we’ve purchased the buildings beside us, so we’re going to be moving them into a full financial services centre. There isn’t a whole lot that goes on in town that doesn’t have financial or volunteer support by us, and I certainly don’t say that because I’m trying to throw in a plug for the credit union — I’m proud of it.
“I’ve said before repeatedly that we consider our corporate responsibility to be a very important factor of who we are, and we take it seriously. We, from the board of directors down to even a part-time staff person, believe in Ladysmith and support the things it offers. There’s a value there and benefits for the town. We don’t do it because we want people to come and deal with us. Obviously we would like that as an indirect result, but we do it because we think it’s the right thing to do.”
The credit union recently published a book outlining and illustrating its history, with de Leeuw admitting the 70th anniversary only becoming surreal.
We found out that the first-ever event that this credit union sponsored was on February 22, 1947, where we sponsored a social evening, and when I read that, that was one of my proudest moments to understand that we have supported and sponsored things in this community for that long a period,” said de Leeuw. “Our involvement has never changed, and our commitment has never waived from the importance of this community.”
“A few years ago, we changed the way our bursaries at the high school were done. They were $3,000; we upped it to $13,000. Two years after that, we instituted the Kids Count Fun Zone at Ladysmith Days.”
The CEO says the credit union will continue to do its best at creating memories.
“If I could be so bold as to quote Walt Disney, ‘Disneyland would never be finished as long as there was imagination in the world.’ This credit union will never stop improving.”
LDCU invites the public to celebrate its 70th anniversary this Friday (May 16) during an all-day open house at 330 First Ave., featuring anniversary cake.