‘Homegrown’

Jayme Durbin takes over as President of Fergus Credit Union
By 
CHARLIE DENISON
Senior Reporter
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Article Image Alt Text

Jayme Durbin was promoted to President of Fergus Federal Credit Union last week, taking over for Bob Bjelland, who led the credit union for 35 years. Durbin served under him for 33 years as a teller, loan officer and vice president. 

Photo by Charlie Denison

Lewistown native Jayme Durbin remembers it well.

It was 1986. He’d just graduated from Rocky Mountain College in business administration. He didn’t know what was next for him.

That’s when it happened.

“I was walking down the sidewalk right here on Janeaux Street and there was a gentleman washing off a brand new sidewalk,” Durbin recalled. “I said, ‘What is this building?’ He said, ‘It’s a brand new credit union.”

Durbin was familiar with the Fergus Federal Credit Union. He’d been a member of it at the previous location by the post office. Curious about the expansion, Durbin asked the man more questions, and the man encouraged him to go ahead and apply for a job. 

“I made an appointment, sat down with President Bob Bjelland, he called me a couple days later and wanted to hire me,” Durbin said. “I started as a teller, then moved to collections, and, in 1992, I became vice president.”

For the next 27 years, he worked as Bjelland’s right-hand man, but last year Bjelland retired, and Durbin was promoted, effectively beginning his tenure as president on Dec. 30, 2019.

“I’m homegrown,” he said. “I know the people. I’ve watched many of them grow up. I remember when the kids used to bring in their piggy banks and make a deposit into their savings account. Later on I became their loan officer when they bought their new car. I’ve helped them go through their colleges and help with their student loans, something we did in the ‘90s but no longer do. Nowadays I help them purchase their houses. I’ve seen many come in since they were real little and then return to the community where they are starting their career and starting a family. It’s pretty neat to see.”

Durbin takes pride in this. He enjoys having the opportunity to help the youth succeed, and he is intentional about it, setting up opportunities for Credit Union representatives to work with students.

“We recently had our six loan officers participate in a classroom discussion at Fergus High School, where they visited with the students about checking accounts, saving money, investing, loans, the whole gamut.”

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago when Durbin was a student at St. Leo’s, where he graduated in 1981, but time has a way of flying by. It’s hard for Durbin to believe he’s been part of the Credit Union for 33 years, and now the buck stops with him, which he said is a little intimidating.

“One of my biggest hurdles is adapting to a lot of the changes regarding compliance issues and fraud,” Durbin said. “We have a major problem in Lewistown, as well as across the United States, when it comes to people preying on the elderly. People are taking money from our loved ones. Our elderly are not educated in the ways these fraud people are, and they are ripping them off right and left. It’s a beast.”

Durbin said he appreciates the support members have shown the credit union through the years.

“Obviously members from Fergus County and 13 other counties have the respect of our Credit Union because we now have more than $70 million in assets,” he said. “We have about $44 million in loans.”

 

Big shoes to fill

Although there is a changing of the guard at FFCU, Durbin said people shouldn’t expect much to change, as he is thrilled with where things are at and hopes to continue building on the foundation set by Bjelland and Bill Spoja before him.

“My biggest goal is to run this place like Bob Bjelland did,” he said, “[Bjelland] is one of the smartest men I’ve ever worked with, and if I needed something, he was always there, usually answering the question off the top of his head. I’m fortunate to still have him as my ace in the hole. I can turn to him whenever I have questions.”

Durbin said he’s certain questions will arise.

“When I was a loan officer, I only had to worry about the person sitting across from me and make sure their payments came in every month,” he said. “Today I have that factor, I have to make sure the Credit Union runs smoothly and I have to look out for all 5,800 members’ assets.” 

It’s one thing to have a key to the building, Durbin said, it’s another to be the one in charge, and he knows there will be some growing pains, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This is all about people helping people,” he said. “That’s our goal, and that will remain our goal.”

Category:

Poll

Do you think Montana is ready to move on to the next phase of the governor's re-opening plan?