HOW DID I GET HERE? – Kit Snyder (C.C.E.)
President and CEO of Consumers Credit Union

STORY JAKE FREDERICKS | IMAGE HANNAH ZIEGELER

1956 | BORN IN COLDWATER, MI
I have lived my entire life in Michigan. I was raised on a 40-acre farm outside Coldwater. Every evening, my family would sit together at our dining room table, and everything we ate for dinner came from the farm. We grew everything and stored it in our fruit cellar. The farm’s main purpose, however, was to raise horses. Growing up, I fell off a horse before I fell off a bike. We would often go to horse shows to train these animals so they would be friendly enough to sell to families. When one was sold, we would get another and start over; we had about one dozen horses at any given time.

1974 | GRADUATED COLDWATER HIGH SCHOOL
When I was at Coldwater High School, I was on the football team, wrestled, and played as many sports as I could. Neither of my parents went to high school when they were young, so when I approached graduation, I didn’t have much of a career plan. That is, until my senior year, when I befriended a banker. He was a terrific role model for me, and I quickly decided that I would like to have a job like his someday.

1978 | GRADUATED FROM WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
After I found my calling, I enrolled at Western Michigan University. I realized that if I were serious about becoming a banker, I would have to focus and study. During my freshman year, I joined a group of older guys who were very serious about academics. Looking back, much of who I have become has had a lot to do with whom I chose to associate. It’s amazing how much impact someone can have on your life’s direction.

1976 | NATIONAL BANK EXAMINER WITH U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT
One day when I was at Western, I spoke to one of my finance professors about my need to find a job. When he suggested I apply for a job opening at the U.S. Treasury Department, I thought he was crazy. I didn’t even know what they did. He said, “Well, do you know what the Federal Reserve is? How about you look that up.” So, I spent several days reading in the library on campus before I applied for the position. Somehow, they picked me over all the other candidates. To be able to get the national bank examiner position at 19 for two six-month internships set the stage for my future. In some ways, it was a lot for me to have so much responsibility at such a young age, but I loved it.

1977 | WORKED LENDING AND COLLECTIONS AT MICHIGAN NATIONAL BANK
I went to work for Michigan National Bank in December of 1977. I worked there for three years in the lending and collections department. Early in my career, I had to learn what I could by going to every meeting and trying to gather every scrap of information.

1980 | ASSISTANT MANAGER AT AUTO WORKERS CREDIT UNION
Those skills helped me get hired by Auto Workers Credit Union. I served as assistant manager, the number two in the office, at the ripe age of 24. Soon, I found that I had talent and fondness for strategic planning and dove into that headfirst.

1984-present | PRESIDENT AND CEO OF CONSUMERS CREDIT UNION
Three years later, Consumers Credit Union hired me to be their president and CEO. I was 27 years old. That was an incredibly pivotal year in my life. In January of 1984, I got the job as president and CEO, met my wife, and bought my first house—all in the same month.

Before I began, Consumers Credit Union served about 2,500 members but was looking to expand its charter. The organization started when 49 employees, who worked at Consumers Power Company, voted to start a credit union. Back in the ’50s and ’60s, the board members encouraged the employees of Consumers Power Company to increase their payroll deduction just so they could have enough money to make loans. That shows why credit unions exist: real people helping real people. They hired me to take that vision and bring it to as many people as possible. Today, we have over 100,000 members and 19 locations. And we are overjoyed to have unveiled a state-of-the-art headquarters just last year.

Initially, my plan with the board of directors was to work at the credit union for five years. The board thought that since the credit union was small and I had good credentials, I would eventually leave. And they were okay with that. But around that five-year period, when I suggested to my wife that I put my resume out nationally, her face saddened. She said, “Kit, do we really want to leave family, leave our families?” To me, family truly is most important, so we decided to stay here. I made a career commitment to Consumers Credit Union and renewed my personal commitment to my family.

KIT SNYDER TODAY
My wife and I live in South Haven now, and we couldn’t be happier. In my free time, I am a fitness freak. I ride horses when I can, and I have even competed at the city, state, and national level in paddleball tournaments. In the last decade, I have developed a fondness for health and golf, so I work out regularly and love to hike. It keeps me always moving.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
There is so much room for growth at Consumers Credit Union. When I look to the future, I would say that we are in good hands. We have a motto here for our employees that we call “fail forward.” We teach everyone to be independent so they feel empowered to make decisions right on the front lines. We don’t want them to have to say, “Let me check with my manager.” The idea is that even if they make mistakes, there is a tremendous amount of learning that happens. That’s what enables us to move quickly and get things done.

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