That’s what Paul Swart felt when he made the leap into the world of credit unions 12 years ago, joining Chelsea’s Metro Credit Union after spending 20 years at a traditional, bottom line-driven bank.
Now, the formerly fast-paced senior vice president for retail services has slowed his gait some, though certainly not his drive.
“Back then, I was not really enjoying the journey, and that seems to have changed,” after working at Metro, Swart explained. “Now, I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. It’s not just about reaching the destination.”
For Swart, the biggest culture shock came when he realized that the employees at the credit union, 120 of whom he now oversees, work exclusively to achieve what is best for the union’s members.
“There’s not a goal for a sale,” Swart continued. “Our thinking has always been member-first. When I worked at the bank, it was all about, ‘How can we make more money?’ It was always about the profit. [At Metro] it’s about the highest service level being offered to the member.”
With that in mind, Metro encourages its employees to be community partners, and Swart has certainly taken that to heart. He is currently in his fourth years as president of the Chelsea Kiwanis Club, which offers college scholarships to local high school students. He has also worked to incorporate more Latinos into the club to better reflect Chelsea’s changing demographics.
Additionally, Swart pushed the club to become more community-focused, and members now invest time, not just dollars. He created a team of volunteers that goes regularly to local elementary schools to read to the students. Another team now visits the Chelsea Skilled Nursing Home to play cards or give manicures to the residents. Recently, the Kiwanis Club volunteered to do landscaping work at the Boys & Girls Club.
Through it all, Swart retains his humility. He was surprised to hear he had been named a Credit Union hero, and said, “I was actually going to draft up a nomination for someone else in our office, but then they told me I was already nominated.”