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In the CEO Spotlight This Week
Story ID:8419  
Date Posted:  June 16, 2017

by Shawn Marie Brummer

In 1986, a young Angie Cumbee traveled to the state of Connecticut to see her brother, who was in the Navy at the time. Strangely enough, she ended up staying there and landed a job at a local credit union. Asking the employees there, “What exactly is a credit union?” she says it’s funny – but not really – that they could not tell her. “I hope we’re doing a better job of explaining the concept today,” she remarked. This is Angie’s story.

Angie Cumbee grew up far from the Dakotas, in a small logging community located in the Redwood Forests of Northern California, where she attended school. She first started working in the financial services industry in 1978, when she took a job at a savings & loan institution in California. Here, Angie met her first career mentor. Her name was Jenks Bieasotti, a branch manager. Angie was only 18 years old, but she remembers telling herself, “Someday, I’m going to be where she is!”

After traveling to Connecticut and landing a job with a credit union, Angie worked for a short time in the credit union industry, but soon moved to New Mexico, where she worked for a bank in Albuquerque. In 1991, another move with her family brought her to Rapid City, South Dakota, where she went to work for Pioneer Bank & Trust. But when she discovered that she “didn’t quite fit in with the good old boys,” Angie moved on, obtaining her securities licenses, and began working for a company based in Minnesota, training financial institutions how to sell investment products in an FDIC environment. Finally, Angie says she “hit the jackpot” when she found Rushmore Electric Federal Credit Union.

Starting as the Operations Manager in April of the year 2000, it was only a few months until the CEO decided to move on. Angie applied for the position, and got it. Here, Angie met her next career mentor, Hilda Goehring-Siele. “This woman was a huge help to me. When I first was named the CEO, she mentored me with her 30+ years of experience and her loving kindness. God Bless Her!” During this time, in 2004, Angie also completed CUNA Management School. For ten years, Angie happily ran the little credit union in Rapid City, and all was well. But then, a major disruption.

Just when you think your life is going perfectly fine, something happens that changes everything. Angie met Dan Cumbee, CEO of Dakotaland FCU in Huron, South Dakota, at a credit union meeting. I previously interviewed Dan, who referred to Angie as “the love of my life.” Angie says the same about Dan. It’s true that anyone who has seen the two together at a social event can’t help but notice the bond they share - not to mention, their passion for the credit union industry.

After marrying Dan, Angie (photo right) also moved to Huron. Starting over once again in her career, she began working with investments and insurance, as she had previously with the Minnesota based company. (Angie holds Series 6, 63, Life and Health Licenses to work in the investment industry.) Then, six years later, in 2015, Dan was asked by NCUA to merge his credit union with Huron C&NW. He and his top management team went to look at the little credit union to evaluate what was needed. When the Board President of C&NW let them in, Dan and his team were floored to see the condition of the credit union. It was a mess – both figuratively and literally. With paperwork strewn about, loans past due, and other issues, Angie asked Dan if he wanted some help putting the situation in order. When she first walked in and saw the credit union, Dan’s comment to her was, “Please don’t go!” Angie dug in and began sorting through the mess.

The building that C&NW Federal Credit Union was located in had 27 steps to climb, and was situated in a very old structure in downtown Huron. Angie says she filled the dumpster nine times – and shredded two tons of paper as she cleaned her way through the office. Rather than merge the two credit unions, the board hired Angie Cumbee as the next CEO of Huron C&NW in January of 2015. That was when the “real work” started.

One of the first things she did as CEO was to hire a trusted assistant – her daughter, Shelby Czerny, who began helping Angie with the delinquency issues, collections, lending, and the daily operations. While Shelby repossessed 21 vehicles, 3 motorcycles and a boat, Angie went to work setting up the infrastructure, policies, and working with NCUA and CUNA. She also made the decision to move the credit union to a user-friendly location, and in October 2015, they purchased a nice building that their members love – complete with parking suitable for the railroaders and their big trucks.

When the two started running C&NW, NCUA had the credit union under an umbrella of warnings - a NWRP, a Viability Plan, PCA and DORs. Their capital was at 4.68%, and delinquency hit a high of nearly 9%. Just two years later, under the dedication and attention of Angie and Shelby, C&NW was out of the NWRP, the Viability Plan, PCA and the DORs. “This has been the greatest experience ever,” says Angie. “I love working with her [Shelby] every day and it’s truly gratifying to pass on the credit union industry to her.”

Historically, the Huron C&NW FCU was chartered in 1954 to serve the C&NW railroad employees. While the Railroad has changed ownership and names several times through the years, the credit union has kept the name of Huron C&NW Federal Credit Union, although they have recently applied to NCUA to update their charter and have requested a name change to better reflect the members they serve.
 
The railroad (RCP&E) that the credit union serves has 177 employees, and expects to hire more. The fleet is approximately 50 locomotives and 3,000 railcars, covering 670 miles of rail line. Headquartered in Rapid City, they cover the area northwest to Colony, Wyoming; southwest to Dakota Junction, Nebraska; and east to Tracy, Minnesota. Mechanical shops are located in Rapid City, SD and Huron, SD, with train crew start/change locations in Rapid City, Belle Fourche, Pierre, Huron, Brookings, SD, and Tracy, MN. RCP&E interchanges with Class 1 carriers BNSF, Canadian pacific and Union Pacific, as well as short line Nebraska Northwestern.
 
By all accounts, the members of Huron C&NW FCU are pleased with the new management at their small credit union. “I love the satisfaction of truly helping Members,” says Angie. “It warms my heart when our members tell us how much they appreciate our services, limited as they are, and when they complement our efforts to help them. We’ve even received flowers!” She continues, “Working for credit unions has been absolutely the most rewarding career I could ever imagine! I fell into the credit union industry by accident, but I have stayed on purpose.”

A purpose: a labor of love, says Angie. While she has been involved in many different clubs and groups over the years, more recently, she has focused her time and energy into the credit union. “I believe saving this credit union and helping our members will do more for our communities and will far exceed the good of any other group, club, or cause at this time,” she concluded.

On a personal note, Angie has been married to Dan Cumbee since March of 2009. Now inseparable, between the two they have five adult children, all of whom are married. Their blended family includes two eye doctors in Spearfish, an RN delivery flight nurse and a chiropractor in Canistota SD, a computer security professional and hotel accountant in New Jersey, a credit union CEO in training and a handyman in Wolsey SD, and two school teachers and debate coaches at Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls. The couple also shares four grandchildren, two girls and two boys. In their free time, the Cumbees enjoy going to their cabin in the Black Hills to relax and meet up with friends, playing with their grandchildren, hiking, and riding their Harley Davidson motorcycle, 4-Wheelers, or bicycles. They also love to travel in the US and abroad.

Incidentally, if Angie ever does get tired of the credit union industry – she has a fallback career she can always return to. For a time, when she was 23 years old, she did take a break from the financial industry and drove an 18-wheeler “over the road” in states west of the Mississippi. With a flatbed trailer, she hauled just about everything and anything. Maybe that’s why clearing her way through mounds of paperwork and NCUA violations didn’t seem all that daunting.  I’m just sayin’.

 
Photo: Angie and Dan in Hawaii.