Make us your home page

Achieva Credit Union: Focused on basics yet ready to startle financial status quo


For two very different reasons, we're on a whirlwind tour of the headquarters of Achieva Credit Union with CEO Gary Regoli.

Part of the visit is to see what 180 Achieva employees do there, from mortgage and business lending to human resources, marketing, IT and a closed-door room where online business banking services are being tested.

The other part of the tour is a trip through a long cultivated credit union culture. Halfway through the 2-story Achieva facility we halt by a wall. Adorning it is a floor-to-ceiling, hand-painted tree festooned with photos of Achieva employees, grouped by departments as if nesting in the leafy tree branches.

It seems sentimental, almost cornball. Yet it touches the credit union industry's historical roots, built on everyone pulling together to help a common cause, the communities where Achieva operates and, of course, each other. That cultural bond is a big reason why Achieva — whose branch signs bear the motto "Banking for Good" — earned the No. 1 ranking in the Tampa Bay Times 2016 "top workplace" survey for midsized companies. Folks like working where it feels like they make a difference.

Achieva's not the biggest credit union serving the Tampa Bay market. Suncoast, Grow Financial and GTE, all credit unions based in Tampa, are all larger by assets. But Regoli says the $1.4 billion Achieva is growing, most recently stretching its branches down to Lee and Charlotte counties to the south. And the CEO says Achieva's size is approaching an economy of scale he hopes will keep it in good shape amid a low unemployment but still lackluster economy.

If credit unions are oil, commercial banks are water. They don't mix and historically have fought long wars over their differences. Credit unions are tax-exempt, which angers tax-paying banks as an unfair advantage. But banks can raise money by issuing stock and paying excess profits to shareholders. Credit unions' members own their institutions.

So it came as a shock when Achieva last year acquired for $23.2 million Calusa Bank of Punta Gorda and converted it into the Achieva credit union fold. It was the first "whole bank" acquisition by a credit union buying all the stock of a bank, not just some of its assets and deposits.

Regoli says the deal made sense because Calusa operated where Achieva wanted to grow, and many of Calusa's services dovetailed nicely with Achieva's consumer services.

Was it a risky deal for a modest credit union? Maybe. Regulators, stunned by the lack of precedent of such a deal between rival financial industries, took months approving it. Now industry analysts wonder if it's a breakthrough transaction.

But Regoli has never been afraid to push the envelope. Here's what one industry peer said about Regoli in 2008 after the credit union executive opted to leave his CEO job in Kansas at Boeing Wichita Credit Union to head Achieva.

"I think he's an agent of change. He's a risk-taker, and I think when he makes a commitment to something he sees it through."

It seems little has changed.

Contact Robert Trigaux at Follow @venturetampabay.

Achieva Credit Union

By the numbers

$1.4B Total assets

120,000 Number of "members" or customers

24 Branches in 10 Gulf Coast counties

350+ Employees

$12M Net income in 2015, about the same as 2014

5 Top number of "stars" in Bauer Financial rating, making Achieva a "superior" performer

Time line

1937: Year founded with $99.25 and seven charter members.

1950: Named Pinellas County Teachers Union.

2004: Changed name to Achieva Credit Union.

2008: Gary Regoli named CEO.

2015: Buys Calusa Bank in Charlotte County, first "whole bank" deal in the state by a credit union to buy a commercial bank.

Achieva Credit Union: Focused on basics yet ready to startle financial status quo 05/30/16 [Last modified: Monday, May 30, 2016 9:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trumps travel ban to be replaced by restrictions tailored to certain countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, the New York Times reports, citing officials familiar with the plans.

    President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, officials familiar with the plans said Friday. The new restrictions, aimed at preventing security threats from entering the United States, could go into effect Sunday after the conclusion of a 90-day policy review undertaken as part of the administration's original travel ban. Though the restrictions would differ for each country, people living in the targeted nations could be prevented from traveling to the United States or could face increased scrutiny as they seek to obtain a visa. [Associated Press]
  2. In dollars: How valuable are Florida's university football programs?


    The University of Florida football program is valued in a new study at $682 million, making it the most valuable university team in the state but still worth far less than several college programs topping $1 billion. Four years ago, UF's program was valued at just under $600 million.

    The University of Florida football program is valued at  $682 million, making it the most valuable by far in the Sunshine State. Pictured are UF cheerleaders leading the crowd in a Gator cheer on Clearwater Beach last December during the Outback Bowl Beach Day on Clearwater Beach. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. After 22 years, it's last call for beloved Ybor venue New World Brewery

    Music & Concerts

    YBOR CITY — Steve Bird spreads his tools across a patio table. He has awnings to unbolt and paraphernalia to unpry, from the busted Bop City neon by the stage to the Simpsons "El Duffo o Muerte" mural in the courtyard. He'll uproot a fountain and dismantle a roof and attempt to keep his bar intact. The …

    Various decor and memorabilia fill the walls and shelves at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
Long time music venue and hangout New World Brewery in Ybor City will be closing it's doors and moving locations. Patrons enjoy one of the last events before New World Brewery changes its location to Busch Blvd in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  4. Florida bought more Pasta Passes from Olive Garden than almost any other state

    Food & Dining

    Floridians would like their bowls of pasta to never, ever end.

    Florida was the No. 2 state with the largest number of Olive Garden Pasta Pass purchases, an unlimited pasta pass for $100. Photo courtesy Olive Garden.
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.