sfcu cuts ribbon on new branch, makes plans for more locations


sfcu recently officially celebrated the grand opening of its new Amsterdam branch, which opened its doors last fall. The credit union also has plans underway for a branch in Oneida, as well as a financial wellness center in Onondaga County. (PHOTO CREDIT: sfcu)

SIDNEY, NY – With many new projects and initiatives underway, the Sidney Federal Credit Union (sfcu) recently took the time to celebrate the grand opening of its Amsterdam branch, which opened in the fall of 2021 during the pandemic.

CEO Jim Reynolds calls the branch the next evolution in personal banking. Instead of the traditional counter line, the office offers personal counter modules for individual member service. Instead of traditional ATMs, the branch has an iTM (interactive automated teller machine) which has built-in video capabilities, allowing a member to summon a representative virtually if needed. Even the branch’s coin machine is linked to members’ accounts so it can automatically deposit their change after counting it.

“We had a great turnout,” Reynolds says of the July 15 event, which gave bank officials a chance to show off what they dubbed a “concierge” branch. Principle Design Engineering, PLLC of Norwich was the architect for the project. Gabriel Contractors of Amsterdam, Inc. served as the paving contractor. AOW Associates, Inc., based in Albany, was the general contractor.

Earlier this year, sfcu expanded its membership to include Onondaga, Cortland, Essex and Hamilton counties. The credit union also serves Chenango, Delaware, Fulton, Madison, Montgomery, Otsego, and Schoharie counties, as well as parts of Broome, Oneida, and Herkimer counties.

Between the new Amsterdam branch and the expanded membership scope, sfcu’s membership has grown, Reynolds said. The credit union has added more than 2,000 new members since April and currently has just over 62,000 members. Reynolds credits sfcu’s value proposition with contributing to this growth. The credit union has very low fees when it can’t completely avoid them and offers competitive rates, he notes.

Yet it can be difficult to attract new members without some sort of physical presence in the market. That’s why sfcu is currently researching location options in Onondaga County, he says.

“We are looking for a location for a financial wellness center,” Reynolds said. It will house a small retail banking center and will also serve as a venue for financial education and training seminars for the community, as well as a contact point for area employees to meet. “Having that will strengthen our opportunities,” he says.

Reynolds hopes the credit union can find a location by the end of this year and get to work next year. Meanwhile, sfcu has found another way to enter the Onondaga County market.

“We are going to open a pop-up branch in this region in August,” he says. The pop-up will give people the opportunity to stop and talk to someone face-to-face and learn more about sfcu.


PHOTO CREDIT: sfcu

The credit union is also working on its Oneida branch, which will open at the Five Corners intersection near Walmart. Reynolds hopes the branch will be ready later this year.

In addition to the new iTM machine, the Oneida branch will also offer a new marketing concept for sfcu. A three-dimensional version of the credit union logo, complete with the tree, will form the canopy that covers the drive-thru lanes. “The logo with the tree is the canopy that you drive under,” Reynolds explains. The canopy should also be highly visible to passing motorists, he adds. “It’s almost like a billboard.”

The credit union works with NewGround, a St. Louis-based company that specializes in planning, designing and building branded spaces for financial institutions, organizations and retailers.

For those who don’t need a physical office, sfcu also launched an all-virtual branch last fall.

“We have a lot to do,” Reynolds notes, but it’s all about being able to meet members where they are and provide them with what they need.

The credit union currently employs about 190 people, a number Reynolds plans to increase by about 10 over the next two years to support new branches and expanded membership.

Headquartered in Sidney, sfcu has 10 branches located in Sidney, Oneonta (2), Greene, Norwich, Walton, Delhi, Hancock, Bainbridge and Amsterdam. With $717 million in assets, sfcu (www.sfcuonline.org) is a full-service financial institution.

Rufus T. Sifford