Harborstone Credit Union’s South Sound roots run deep.
Founded in 1955 on then McChord Air Force Base, the member-owned, not-for-profit organization initially served the region’s military members. By the 1980s it built its first location off base, in the heart of Lakewood off Gravelly Lake Drive.
The move from the base to the community planted seeds for the credit union to expand its services to more than just military members. By the mid-1990s the organization was granted a community charter, allowing it to expand membership to the general population.
In the two decades that followed Harborstone has grown its reach through various mergers and acquisitions of other institutions like Prevail Credit Union (formerly King County Employees Credit Union).
Today Harborstone serves its 80,000 members with branches in Pierce, Thurston and King Counties and employs 240 people. One hundred of those are in the Lakewood area.
Its $1.2 billion in assets make it one of the largest credit unions in the state and affords it the ability to offer a full suite of services to members. That includes checking and savings accounts, home and car loans, mortgages, home equity lines of credit, personal loans and credit cards.
But don’t let Harborstone’s size fool you – at the heart of its operations is a commitment to community.
Whether it’s volunteering for street clean ups through the city’s Adopt a Street program, gathering supplies for a back to school drive or participating in Operation Turkey Drop where turkeys are delivered to service men and women on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Harborstone and its employees are dedicated to giving back to the communities they serve.
“We’ve always been big supporters and always make sure whatever community we serve we’re helping to make it vibrant,” said Harborstone President and CEO Phil M. Jones.
Along with volunteering in the community and being a community partner by sponsoring and supporting various events through the year, Harborstone is committed to supporting small businesses – including those often overlooked by big banks.
One way it does that is by offering a full line of business-focused products and services. That includes business lines of credit, commercial real estate loans, equipment loans, Small Business Administration loans, business credit cards and personal financial assistance for businesses.
For small, startup businesses, Harborstone offers microloans – sometimes as small as providing someone enough money to purchase a lawn mower to start a landscaping business, or providing $400,000 to $500,000 in startup costs, Jones said.
The point isn’t necessarily to make money – though Harborstone doesn’t want to lose money. Instead it’s building loyalty with customers with the hope they continue their relationship with the credit union as they see continued success, Jones said.
Harborstone also offers personal banking services for individuals including checking, savings and money market accounts and longtime retirement savings through Traditional and Roth IRAs.
Supporting the community through this business model, as well as through volunteerism and sponsorship, creates a better place to live, he said. That in turn means more people want to live here, which impacts economic development and brings more money into the community.
Everyone benefits when that happens, Jones said.
“This is our home,” Jones said.
It’s because of its longevity in the community and its commitment to making Lakewood and Pierce County a better place to live that the city of Lakewood recognizes Harborstone Credit Union as its June 2017 Business Showcase.