Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane native leads BECU’s growth here

Credit union approaches 40K members in market

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Growing up on a Valley farm, Steve Hauschild tackled arduous jobs like clearing rocks from crop fields.

Years later, he would clear the way for one of the nation’s largest credit unions to sprout in a new market.

Five years ago this month, Hauschild was hired by Boeing Employees Credit Union as market leader and director of business lending in Eastern Washington, which was new territory for the financial cooperative with deep roots in the Puget Sound area.

Since then, Hauschild has helped BECU establish three new branches and a home loan center in the greater Spokane area. The credit union also has a growing foothold in North Idaho.

BECU is approaching 40,000 members across the Inland Northwest, up from around 5,000 in 2016, and now boasts over $600 million in deposits outside of the Puget Sound area—a region that includes Eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Oregon

Founded in 1935 by 18 Boeing Co. employees, BECU is currently the fourth largest credit union in the U.S. with more than 1.2 million members. Boeing Co. employees and people who live or work in Washington state, 10 northern Idaho counties, and 11 western Oregon counties are eligible to become a BECU member.

“The growth has been steady,” says Hauschild, who came to BECU with experience gained at a few regional banks, including former Spokane-based Sterling Savings Bank, and Portland, Oregon-based Umpqua Bank, which acquired Sterling in 2014. He also has some background in the farm credit system.

He claims BECU has surpassed its projections here and the future continues to look promising.

Prior to BECU opening its first two Spokane-area branches in September 2016, Hauschild was working out of the basement of his home.

“Not too dissimilar from today,” he says.

Hauschild and BECU’s chief marketing officer Tom Berquist have collaborated on ways to raise awareness of BECU beyond the West Side, including TV, radio, print, billboard, and social media campaigns, in addition to community partnerships.

Berquist says, “Steve continues to play a significant role in guiding BECU’s strategy across Spokane and Eastern Washington, identifying partnership opportunities and executing our plans.”

The goal, Hauschild says, is “about bringing a well-known brand to Eastern Washington and helping BECU understand what it takes to expand beyond familiar surroundings.”

“I wanted to build bridges between the East Side and West Side,” Hauschild adds.

In 2004, BECU established a contact center in Spokane Valley and featured a handful of ATMs in the Spokane area. In Spokane County, BECU membership now trails only Numerica Credit Union, Spokane Teachers Credit Union, and Horizon Credit Union. 

Hauschild contends the financial services industry here has been hospitable to BECU’s entry into the market.

“The banks and the credit unions here welcomed us,” he says. “We didn’t want to be disruptive in the market, we wanted to be a good community partner.”

Among other duties, Hauschild is tasked with expanding BECU’s commercial loan profile in the market he oversees. He and his business partners have managed to grow that portfolio to over $1 billion.

Hauschild, a West Valley High School alumnus, holds an undergraduate degree in business and accounting from Gonzaga University and a Master of Business Administration from Washington State University.

He also serves on several boards, including Greater Spokane Incorporated, Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation, and West Plains Chamber of Commerce, among others.

Dana Gray, BECU’s senior vice president of commercial and business services, says Hauschild is proud of his hometown.

“There isn’t a new company entering the region or a new business need that Steve doesn’t know about,” Gray asserts.

Gray says Hauschild has helped BECU keep on top of emerging market trends, changes in local leadership, and evolving community needs.

“He has played an integral role at BECU and in the local community through his work, establishing community partnerships, identifying sponsorship opportunities, actively participating on multiple local boards.”

BECU’s community partnerships, here include funding degree-completion scholarship programs at Eastern Washington University and Community Colleges of Spokane as well as need-based scholarships at Washington State University-Spokane.

Hauschild says it’s been rewarding to receive letters from graduates who have benefited from the scholarships.

“They’re going for their diploma and just hit a wall financially,” he says. “We hear some great stories from students we’ve been able to help.”

BECU also prioritizes the theme of financial literacy. The “Closing for Good” program encourages employees to take a paid day away from work to teach financial basics at high schools across Washington. Some employees are active in Junior Achievement, a worldwide organization devoted to teaching entrepreneurship, work readiness, and financial literacy to youth.

In the wake of COVID-19, BECU joined other Spokane-area companies to support a pandemic relief fund through the Innovia Foundation. Hauschild says the credit union also was active in the Paycheck Protection Program, helping business attempt to stay afloat during the pandemic induced recession.

“It was about being there as a resource to help answer questions and really be a sounding board for how some of them were going to re-create themselves,” Hauschild says.

BECU connected with Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners, establishing the SNAP Forward program that awards grants to small businesses supported by SNAP Financial Access. Last year, the BECU partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship donated $50,000 to SNAP’s financial stability programs. SNAP then leveraged the contribution seven-fold to benefit local small businesses.

BECU has worked side-by-side with other Spokane-area credit unions on efforts like International Credit Union Day that selects a nonprofit beneficiary each year for a collective community service project and “The Great Dine Out” that supported the Spokane-area restaurant industry last month.

“We want to build and complement what other credit unions do in this market,” Hauschild says.

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