Eastman Credit Union has opened the doors to another avenue for its growth and the convenience of its members.
The new Pine Tree branch opened Friday at 2002 W. Loop 281 near Pine Tree Junior High School. The 5-acre site once housed a long-lived restaurant building that housed one failed restaurant after another. The restaurant was demolished to make way for the new branch of the credit union.
Jill Alley, Eastman Credit Union’s regional manager for Texas, moved to Longview from Kingsport, Tenn., Where Eastman is headquartered, when the company made the decision to begin a more physical expansion. At that time, the credit union had two branches in the Longview area.
“One of the first things I heard when I moved here was, ‘Thank you so much for destroying this horror,'” Alley said of the restaurant building that had been located on the site where it was. find the new branch.
Eastman employees started the credit union in 1934, before the Eastman Chemical Co. plant opened just outside Longview. The credit union expanded to Texas in 1979 with a location at the local factory site.
Membership in the Eastman Credit Union was once restricted to employees of the Eastman plant outside of Longview, its retirees and their family members (or the same people in other Eastman facilities). In 2005, however, local membership was extended to anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school, or operates a business in Gregg and Harrison counties.
“We saw the communities here and at Kingsport – we had people who wanted to become a member that we couldn’t serve,” Alley said, adding that Eastman Credit Union thinks they have the “best products and services out there. to offer”.
“… We really value our people in Eastman, and it has served us well so far, but when you only serve one organization, it kind of cuts down on what you can do and your expansion, and you Get to the point if it a business decides to downsize, then it affects your business, ”Alley said. “We applied for this community charter and we have grown by leaps and bounds since…. We found out that what we thought was true, that there were a lot of people who wanted to become members but at that time couldn’t. This has been a win-win situation for us and I think all the communities we serve too.
The Pine Tree branch measures 34,000 square feet with six drive-thru lanes and two ATMs. Inside, the building offers counters, member service and consumer loan desks, and safes.
“One of our very first members who came in actually said he was an Eastman employee and our Southern branch had always been convenient for him but not his wife,” and because of that, they were reluctant to move all of their banking to Eastman Credit Union, Alley said.
The Credit Union opened its North Longview branch about seven years ago at 3066 N. Eastman Road.
“The North Branch had given them some comfort, but it was still on the other side of town. The Pine Tree branch, it was very close for them and it was much more accessible for them, ”said Alley of the Eastman employee who visited the new branch on day one.
This illustrates the reason for opening branches in Longview.
“Until we built our northern branch, there were people who didn’t realize we existed unless you were affiliated with Eastman,” Alley said. “Once we opened the North branch, we were able to continue to serve our Eastman families and be more convenient for retirees and people who have not been to this side of town (where the office is located). the Eastman factory) on a daily basis. “
“It also made us visible to people who otherwise didn’t know we were in the area. It has helped tremendously, ”said Alley.
The Pine Tree branch is 5 miles from the North Longview branch on the Eastman Highway, but it still takes some time to travel those 5 miles, Alley said.
The first floor of the new building consists of a branch on one side and offices on the other. The second floor can be expanded, with Alley saying the credit union will add “back office” functions in Texas. This will include a member contact center so Texas residents can contact someone locally, in the same time zone. It will also provide “continuity” for the entire credit union in the event of a failure in Tennessee.
The building also includes space with a separate entrance for Pine Tree Schools to operate its Pirate Outfitters liquor store.
Eastman Credit Union opened a 4,200 square foot mortgage center in December on Nealy Way, in the new Crossing at Main and Main development at Loop 281 and Eastman Road. A branch in Hallsville is under construction and is expected to open in the first quarter of next year.
Alley said the credit union will now focus on maintaining the new offices while expanding services and looking for ways to help the community. The non-profit organization that announced a recent donation of $ 15,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Pines, following donations to the Longview Arboretum and Nature Center and Longview World of Wonders.
“We want to be a good community partner,” said Alley.