What’s Going There? First Financial Plans in Howell

Courtesy of the Asbury Park Press Online

construction0708The recent explosion of commercial growth on Route 9 in Monmouth County continues on an 8½-acre construction site along the northbound side of the roadway just north of the muncipality’s park-and-ride near the boundary with Freehold Township.

First Financial Federal Credit Union, the Wall-based not-for-profit financial cooperative that operates four locations throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties, will spend roughly $1.5 million to build a 3,000-square-foot branch on the site. The company broke ground on the single-story branch late last month and plans to open it in December. The company also plans to spend $4 million to move its headquarters there from Wall by 2016.

Rather than an expansion, however, First Financial’s construction of the branch marks an attempt at consolidation. The company desired a freestanding branch on its own land, and so it allowed its lease of a storefront within Lanes Mill Marketplace on Route 9 North in the township to expire this past April and will do the same with its leased storefront within Barclay Square on Route 9 South in Freehold Township once it opens the new branch.

Similarly, First Financial’s lease on its current headquarters on Route 34 in Wall will expire in 2016, so it will open a new corporate office building that will stand two stories tall and span 20,000 square feet.

*Article written by staff writer Anthony Panissidi of the Asbury Park Press. 

First Financial Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony for New Freehold/Howell Service Center

Press Release

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Pictured above, left photo: The First Financial Board of Directors and staff prepare to cut the ribbon to commence the groundbreaking of the credit union’s newest branch alongside Gordon Holder (Board Chair, center) and Issa Stephan (President/CEO, far right).

Pictured above, right photo: Howell Township officials attend the ceremony. From left to right: Paul Schneider (Howell Planning Board), Issa Stephan, Jeffrey Filiatreault (Township Manager), Town Councilman Robert Walsh, and Gordon Holder.

First Financial Federal Credit Union (http://www.firstffcu.com/) held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 24, 2014 at the site of the credit union’s soon to be newest branch at 389 Route 9 North (next to the Howell Park & Ride) in Freehold, NJ 07728.

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Pictured above: Some First Financial Corporate Office staff with Issa Stephan and Gordon Holder.

In attendance were several Howell Township officials including Township Manager Jeffrey Filiatreault, Councilman Robert Walsh, Paul Schneider of the Howell Planning Board, along with Howell Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Dominguez, the First Financial Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee, President/CEO Issa Stephan, realtor Marshall Kern, builder Mitch St. Lawrence, and members of the First Financial Corporate Office staff.

The ceremony kicked off the construction of the credit union’s newest branch, which will be a primary banking location for approximately a quarter of the credit union’s 20,000 members. First Financial’s newest branch will feature many important banking conveniences such as a drive thru, drive up and walk up ATMs, and more.

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Pictured above: Issa Stephan and Gordon Holder showcase the First Financial Member Experience.

Brief remarks were made by Issa Stephan and Gordon Holder at the ceremony. In regard to the building and future opening of the credit union’s latest branch location, Mr. Stephan stated, “We look forward to bringing the Howell and Freehold community a high-tech banking facility featuring modern convenience. Member experience is extremely important to us, and our first priority is achieving our members’ financial dreams by defining their financial goals and lifestyle, empowering them with financial education, helping them to plan their retirement, and more – and our newest branch will be a key vehicle in helping us to fulfill this promise with our membership.”

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Pictured above: Some of the First FInancial Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee from left to right – David Graf, Laurita Carr, Issa Stephan, Gordon Holder, Elizabeth White, Karen Fiore, and Catherine McLaughlin.

More photos from the ceremony are available by following First Financial on Facebook at www.facebook.com/firstfinancialnj.

First Financial Honored with CUNA Diamond Award and SIAA Awards for Outstanding Marketing Achievements

Press Release

Use this photo - CUNA and SIAA 2014

Pictured above: First Financial’s Marketing Director Jessica Revoir (L) and E-Marketing Specialist Nicole Andretta (R) with the credit union’s recent CUNA Diamond Award and SIAA Awards.

First Financial Federal Credit Union was recently honored with an “Industry’s Best” Diamond Award in electronic marketing for their new member onboarding PURL (personalized URL) campaign called Welcome2First.

The award was administered by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Marketing & Business Development Council, a national network comprised of over 1,100 credit union marketing and business development professionals.  Awards are given in each of 29 categories ranging from advertising to community events and beyond.

“The Diamond Award competition is the most prestigious competition for excellence in marketing and business development in the credit union industry,” said Michelle Hunter, Chair of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, and SVP of Marketing & Development at Credit Union of Southern California. “Credit unions that receive these awards should be extremely proud of their accomplishments and know that their work represents the very best examples of creativity, innovation, relevance, and execution. The Diamond Awards are not easily earned and the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council is proud to honor those who are deserving of this recognition.”

In addition, First Financial was also awarded with two Silver Service Industry Advertising Awards (SIAA) – for their First Scoop blog and new identity theft protection products, as well as a Bronze Award for their new employee onboarding video.

Founded in 2003, SIAA is the only advertising awards program to specifically recognize the achievements of the service industry. Many other advertising awards feature consumer goods, packaged goods and other tangible products. The SIAA specifically recognizes the creativity and communication accomplishments of the service industry.

Nearly 2,000 entries were received in this year’s SIAA competition. A national panel of judges reviewed each entry for execution, creativity, quality, consumer appeal and overall breakthrough content.

First Financial also worked with Source4 business and marketing solutions in Parsippany, NJ; Grey Sky Films in Rockaway, NJ; and M2 The Agency in The Woodlands, TX on the above award-winning marketing projects.

First Financial Foundation Receives 2013 Social Responsibility Award for Classroom Grants

Press Release

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Pictured above from First Financial Federal Credit Union’s Foundation Committee – L to R: Megan Shull (Business Development Officer), Issa Stephan (President/CEO), Greg Michlig (NJ Credit Union League President/CEO), Jessica Revoir (Marketing Manager), Helga Britton (VP of Human Resources), Angel Capalbo (Quality Assurance Specialist), and Graham Stevens (Dealer Relationship Director).

The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation was selected by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) through the New Jersey Credit Union League’s 2013 award program (NJCUL) as the recipient of the 2013 Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Awareness Award.

The credit union’s Foundation was awarded for its classroom grants for local educators. In the fall of 2012, the First Financial Foundation asked Monmouth and Ocean County educators to apply for the classroom grants to use at their schools. The First Financial Foundation awarded four (4) $500 classroom grants during the 2012-2013 school year. These grants were implemented to help the children of the credit union’s surrounding communities. With several school budget cuts in the area, many school districts could not afford the additional tools that were needed to help aid in their students’ success, and that is where the First Financial Foundation felt they needed to provide assistance.

Since First Financial began with a group of Asbury Park schoolteachers back in 1936, the credit union has not forgotten its educational roots. “Education remains a guiding principal for our organization, and we were delighted to help our local educators enhance their classroom experience,” noted First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan.

The annual NJCUL award competition is separated in two different categories, state league awards and national CUNA awards.  The Dora Maxwell Award is a CUNA award, and is judged by CUNA and is based on credit unions and their philosophy of “people helping people.”

To learn more about the First Financial Foundation’s classroom grants and see the four recipients, visit First Financial’s blog at Http://blog.firstffcu.com .

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About the First Financial Foundation:

Since 1994, First Financial has supported the Monmouth & Ocean communities with the Erma Dorrer Scholarship Program. Today, that program has been extended into the First Financial Foundation to assist charitable organizations of the Monmouth & Ocean County Communities.  The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation is a non-profit working to support a variety of community programs and organizations throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  We direct 100% of your contributions to programs because all administrative expenses are paid for by First Financial Federal Credit Union.  To learn more, visit www.firstfinancialfoundation.org .

First Financial Foundation Names Amanda Sayko of Howell Winner of 2013 Scholarship

Press Release

Amanda SaykoPictured Above: Amanda Sayko of Howell

The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation (www.firstfinancialfoundation.org) recently awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Amanda Sayko of Howell, who recently began her freshman year at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College – majoring in science. Sayko graduated from Howell High School in June 2013, with an impressive 4.4 GPA.

Three winners were chosen overall for the First Financial Foundation’s 2013 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship.

This year’s scholarship topic was:

Due to heavy competition in New Jersey with banks and financial institutions on every corner, how can First Financial bring in new credit union members? How can we differentiate ourselves and successfully carry out a membership drive within the community to recruit new members? Please answer the question as if you were a First Financial executive – what would you do to educate the local community about the benefits of a credit union membership?

Applicants submitted a written essay or video clip to answer the question, and had to be a member of the credit union by 12/31/12 and about to attend for fall 2013 – or currently attending a 2 or 4 year college anywhere in the country.

Sayko submitted an essay explaining why reaching out to the public would help First Financial bring in new members, and in her essay she stated, “People need to feel a connection with the everyday people they trust their money with. They need to ask questions and talk to their bankers face to face.  That is one of the things I like about First Financial. When I go in to deposit my paycheck I talk to the same people every time. They are friendly and personable employees who actually know who I am.  You don’t get that feeling at a larger financial institution.” Later she added, “To me, personal relationships are the key factor when it comes to trusting people with your money.  For the current generations, large banks have lost the trust of the general public, and First Financial should emphasize how credit unions are trustworthy and a not for profit entity; separating it from its competitors.”

“We are thrilled to be able to aid these admirable and bright young students in their journey of success and education,” said First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan.  “Our credit union puts a high priority on education, after all – that’s how First Financial began 77 years ago, with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”

First Financial Foundation Names Kevin Rogers of Ocean Township Winner of 2013 Scholarship

Press Release:

Kevin Rogers

The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation (www.firstfinancialfoundation.org) recently awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Kevin Rogers of Ocean Township, who is currently attending the School of Criminal Justice and Public Administration at Kean University in Union, NJ.

Three winners were chosen overall for the First Financial Foundation’s 2013 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship.

This year’s scholarship topic was:

Due to heavy competition in New Jersey with banks and financial institutions on every corner, how can First Financial bring in new credit union members? How can we differentiate ourselves and successfully carry out a membership drive within the community to recruit new members? Please answer the question as if you were a First Financial executive – what would you do to educate the local community about the benefits of a credit union membership?

Applicants submitted a written essay or video clip to answer the question, and had to be a member of the credit union by 12/31/12 and about to attend for fall 2013 – or currently attending a 2 or 4 year college anywhere in the country.

Rogers submitted an essay explaining why First Financial should focus new membership on high school and college students. In his essay he stated, “Although most students generally have not yet achieved the type of financial stability it takes to be able to make large deposits, the contributions that they can make should be of particular interest to a credit union. The reason is that many high school students are interested in having part-time jobs during the school year as well as in the summer, and the schools are already educating them on how to effectively handle their own finances. Financial literacy studies are required for graduation in most high schools and for college students who are pursuing disciplines involving business administration with concentrations in finance and/or economics. In addition, bringing students into the credit union will introduce them to all First Financial has to offer – while financially educating and setting them up with various financial products for every stage of their future.”

“We are thrilled to be able to aid these admirable and bright young students in their journey of success and education,” said First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan.  “Our credit union puts a high priority on education, after all – that’s how First Financial began 77 years ago, with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”