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A Tale of Two Pens

A Tale of Two Pens

Martha Prestin’s office at O Bee looks like a regular workspace. As the Chief Financial Officer, she’s got the standard issue desk, plants, and computer. You’d never guess it holds a significant piece of the credit union’s history. But if you look closer, you’ll notice a certain marble pen holder on the desk. For those in the know, it is THE pen holder. It belonged to Prestin’s great-grandfather and O Bee Credit Union founder, Ted McGill. The pen holder was a key part of the loan application process.

Back in the early days of the credit union, a loan application consisted of a conversation with Ted. “He would bring folks in and just talk with them,” says Prestin. “He would ask about their current bills, their kids, and any upcoming plans they had.” At the end of the conversation, he would lean in and say ‘do you think you can afford that?’” Ted had a warm way of encouraging members to really consider if they could take on a loan payment. At the end of the conversation, if the loan was approved, Ted would take one pen out of the holder, and the member would take the other. They would sign the paperwork together then and there.

The best part of Ted’s “application” process was that it was highly successful. “There were very low default rates,” Prestin recalls. “Almost none, actually. People really didn’t want to let my great-grandfather down.”

Now, 68 years later, the pens sit atop Prestin’s desk. A reminder of her great-grandfather’s legacy and O Bee’s commitment to connecting with our members on a personal level.

 


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