Laurel, MD – Fifty years ago, who would have thought we’d carry phones around in our pockets, much less do our banking on them?
In 1967, when Peggy Stavely started out as a Teller with Tower Federal Credit Union, she would not have been able to foresee all of the changes in technology that would take place during her 50+ years in the financial industry. Stavely, Tower’s Vice President of Branch Administration, retired earlier this month after five decades with the credit union, headquartered in Laurel, Md.
“My dad, who worked at Tower’s sponsoring agency at the time, told me they were looking for tellers, so I thought, that sounds like a good job to me,” Stavely recalls. She didn’t know at the time that Tower would turn out to be her career home.
“Everything was done by hand back then. There was no computer system until 1970,” she says. “Work was shipped off every night to a processing center, and then every Monday we’d get a report of current account balances.” She also recalls the first Tower ATM being installed in the mid-70s, and adapting to two new major computer system upgrades in the 90s. Stavely was promoted to her current position as VP of Branch Administration in 1987.
Along with new technologies, Stavely has been with Tower through years of explosive growth. When she joined Tower in 1967, Tower had 14 employees and $4 million in assets. Fast forward to 2018, and Tower is the largest federal credit union in Maryland, with over $3 billion in assets, 172,000+ members around the globe and more than 500 employees.
To keep up with a growing membership and changing demographics, Stavely helped Tower make the leap from limited-access to community branches. After helping open Tower’s second branch at its sponsoring agency in 1969, and a third in 1975, she helped launch Tower’s first community branch in 1988 in Millersville, Md. Since then, Stavely was instrumental in opening every one of Tower’s branches, which now total 12 community and four limited-access.
Stavely says her biggest challenge over the years, aside from learning and adapting to new technologies, was making this transition to community branches. “Community branches required more staff, and we quickly realized the need for Member Service Representatives (MSRs) who could help members with more than just taking deposits—from opening new accounts to applying for loans.” The transition to MSRs required increased training for employees, but Stavely was up for the challenge. The MSRs, Stavely says, greatly enhanced Tower’s service to members. “One person could now handle all of the [member’s] banking needs at once.”
Throughout five decades of change, Stavely’s focus has never wavered. “My focus has always been on service,” she says. “I tell my staff: Make members feel welcome, remember them. Think of them first and they’ll think of you. Make it easy for them to want to come back.” In fact, what Stavely says she’s most proud of in her years at Tower is how much her staff goes out of their way to find creative solutions to provide the best possible service for members. “Always find a way to say ‘Yes’ to the member,” has been her mantra.
When asked about her plans for retirement, Stavely says “My plan is to not have a plan!” She does have some pursuits in mind, however, like learning to play the guitar and taking up yoga. One thing is clear, after over 50 years at Tower, what she will miss most is the close friendships she’s formed. “I’ve seen many of my co-workers more than I see my family,” she says.
Stavely is confident she’s trained her staff well, and that Tower will continue to keep her legacy of excellent member service going strong. She’s determined to enjoy and make the most of her well-earned retirement. And, to catch on her sleep. “I never want to use the 4:30 a.m. alarm clock again!” she says.