By: Brian Wolfburg, President/CEO, VyStar Credit Union
In 1952, VyStar Credit Union (then known as Jax Navy Federal), was chartered by 12 founding members with only $60. Today, we have grown to over 645,000 members and over $8.3 billion in assets. This exceptional growth, aside from a small merger in 2017, has been strictly organic—generated internally through increased productivity, efficiency and market share.
One of the most important and effective ways to grow, however, is through strategic mergers and acquisitions. When done with the right partners, mergers and acquisitions can offer additional opportunities to increase market share and expand member benefits—often more efficiently than internal growth. That is why, in 2018, VyStar made a tactical decision to search for partnerships that would effectively augment our organic growth.
This month, VyStar was pleased to announce an agreement to merge with our first acquisition partner, Citizens State Bank (CSB). CSB is a Florida state-chartered bank headquartered in Perry, Florida. Established in 1958, CSB is a financially sound community bank with over $280 million in assets. They have four locations: two branches in Gainesville, and one branch each in Perry and Steinhatchee, Florida. Over the coming months, we will work with regulators and other officials to finalize the purchase, which is targeted for midyear 2019.
I am pleased to see how many similarities exist between the values, visions and missions of both our organizations—especially our strong commitment to members/customers and the communities we serve. This partnership will help VyStar better meet our members’ current and future needs, as well as significantly grow our brand in our existing Gainesville market and our new markets in Taylor County and westward into Leon County and the Florida Panhandle. It will provide members and employees the best of both our organizations.
VyStar will maintain all CSB employees and all four CSB branch offices. The acquisition will bring VyStar’s total number of full-service branches to 53, and total assets to nearly $8.6 billion. The process is not done, but we have come to an agreement and are completing our due diligence and obtaining regulators’ and other officials’ approval, which will take several months. VyStar and CSB management expect the sale to move forward quickly and smoothly. Until the partnership is finalized, we will continue getting to know CSB employees and their customers.
At this point, the accounts of CSB customers will not be affected. However, once the merger is official around mid-2019, the operational aspects of the partnership—including account transition—will begin. This will take time, and VyStar is committed to closely working with CSB customers throughout the transition. We would also like to assure all our members that your VyStar membership and accounts will not be impacted by this new partnership; VyStar will still be the same credit union you know and trust.
One of VyStar’s main objectives for 2019 is well underway: to cultivate our growth within new communities, as well as forge a deep connection with those who live, work and play there. We are excited to partner with CSB, which will allow VyStar to effectively and efficiently grow in current and new markets, as well as improve our operating efficiency so we can better deliver on our mission and promise to our members—all while allowing CSB to honor its legacy and fulfill its commitment to its customers. We look forward to finding even more new ways to bring our credit union services to more communities in Florida, Georgia and beyond in the future—through both traditional organic growth as well as mergers and acquisitions with the right partners.
Brian E. Wolfburg,
VyStar Credit Union