By Rod Lee
If anything is a constant in the financial-services industry, it is change. Nowhere is this more evident than at Homefield Credit Union.
Formerly Grafton Suburban Credit Union, the Homefield name was adopted two years ago as a better representation of the institution’s expanding reach in Worcester and Middlesex counties. As of this month, President and CEO Lloyd L. Hamm Jr. said, Homefield boasts over 12,000 members and over $144 million in assets (as opposed to $112 million when he arrived).
Homefield, based at 86 Worcester St. in North Grafton, also recently opened a branch office in Milford Square on Rt. 140 in Milford. That office, Mr. Hamm said, is “right on point” to meet the CU’s expectations.
Although the banking atmosphere is “difficult” right now, Homefield is not standing still, Mr. Hamm said. “It’s a low-rate environment so consumers benefit but it’s hard to run a financial institution” in that environment, he said. This, coupled with demands institutions like Homefield face in investing in technology and adhering to strict “government compliance” requirements (lessened to some degree, however, by the Trump administration, he said) are always top of mind.
Despite these impediments, Homefield is on the fast track for a “wholesale conversion” of its data-processing systems by fall. This will result in “expanded home banking, we’ll offer mobile applications, mobile deposits, businesses will be able to scan their own checks, we will be able to produce a debit card for customers on the spot when they open an account.”
A fifty-year resident of the town of Upton with a second home on the seacoast of New Hampshire, Mr. Hamm talks excitedly about the technological advances that are coming to Homefield.
“Currency recycler” machines, purchased at a cost of $35,000 each, are already a fixture at Homefield. They are like ATMs with the ability to read and instantly cash a check.
Coin machines have also been installed at each branch and are a popular addition. “People come in with coins in buckets!” he said.
That Homefield is active in the community is reflected in its having “doubled” its charitable giving to more than $50,000 this year. The Grafton Lions Club, the Friends of Grafton Elders, the Community Harvest Project are several of the many recipients of this generosity, as are students from Nipmuc Regional, Valley Tech and now Milford who are awarded scholarships.
Besides the “gigantic conversion” that lies ahead, Homefield is doing well in other regards. Mortgage loan activity is up, consumer loan delinquency is at a record low and small-business loans top $16 million. Virtually all of these small-business loans “are within ten minutes” of the CU.
A graduate of Anna Maria College in Paxton, which is where he met his wife Linda (she is involved with the Upton Woman’s Club and is a past president of the Upton Garden Club), Mr. Hamm worked for Eastern Bank for twenty-five years and was also an instructor with the New England College of Finance and COO and dean of the School of Business at Anna Maria.
He describes Homefield as “a credit union for the community but we can give a private banking experience” at the same time.
Personally, Homefield has been “a great fit” with “a great team” behind him, Mr. Hamm said.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.