Fun Fact: In the beginning, First Central was formed by 14 Southwestern Bell Telephone employees. Each employee put 25 cents into a cigar box kept at the desk of a telephone operator -- thus forming the Waco Telco Credit Union. The first president was Mr. W. M. Stephens. By members vote the following was passed: loans would be limited to $25 (unsecured) and $50 (secured); loan interest to be charged would be 1% per month on unpaid balances, and the interest would be collected at time of payment; a maximum duration for any loan would be ten months. By the end of 1937 Waco Telco Credit Union had 79 members.
Our Growth: By December of 1938, the request for loans was so great Waco Telco Credit Union borrowed $500 at 6% for 60 days to meet the loan volume. In October 1939 the original credit union started to grant employee payroll deduction privileges to members. This was the first company in the Waco area to allow payroll deduction for repayment of loans.
Expansion came when the credit union was moved to a new location on the corner of 15th Avenue and Columbus Street in Waco, Texas. During the mid-1960s, a new office positioned on a paved two-way street with paved parking just a few feet away from the front door was something to boast about.
Within the next years the credit union experienced phenomenal growth. By the end of 1968, the milestone of reaching a million dollars in both assets and loans to members had been obtained.
In 1973 Waco Telco Credit Union was on the threshold of being a two million dollar credit union which resulted in contracting for construction of a credit union owned building located at 1901 Austin Avenue in Waco, Texas.
Community businesses asking to be served by the credit union, added to our growth in the late 70s and early 80s. In 1977, Texas Power and Light employees joined with Waco Telco Credit Union members. Three years later, in 1980, Brazos Electric Co-op Credit Union officially merged with Waco Telco Credit Union. Membership grew to include employees from Dealers Electric, Davis Iron Works, and many other local companies.
In January of 1987 a new building was built and dedicated at 6201 Sanger Ave. in Waco, and is still considered to be the main branch. This building started out with just a few offices, teller area and 2 drive-thru lanes. The Sanger Branch remains the busiest branch we have.
In the mid-1990s Waco Telco Credit Unions name was changed to First Central Credit Union, making the credit union the first one with a community charter in Waco. At that time, First Central only offered membership within a ten mile radius of the Sanger location. Later First Central's field of membership was expanded to anyone who lived or worked in McLennan County.
Another big year was 1998. The Sanger office expanded the drive-thru lanes from two to four and we also purchased our own automated teller machine (ATM). It was installed where the fifth lane would be in the drive-thru.
The Hewitt branch location lease was up for renewal and in December of 1998 the decision was made to find a new building to buy or land on which to build. The Hewitt branch was closed after a period of no luck in finding a permanent location. Expansion continued in 2004, however, with the opening of a branch office in Hillsboro, Texas. This was a big stepping stone for First Central. A desk was rented for use inside a local insurance office. We started with just one day eventually increasing to three days a week, making it time to move to our own office. With this newer office the field of membership grew to include anyone who lived, worked or worshipped within ten miles of the Hillsboro office located at 225 East Franklin Street. In August of 2005, seven years after we closed the Hewitt branch, local leaders and senior administration gathered to break ground on First Central's building project in the Hewitt area which took one year to complete at 9101 Chapel Road, offering a convenient South Waco site.
In 2006, the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) awarded First Central Credit Union the "Juntos Avanzamos" designation at a ceremony attended by credit union officials, local community leaders and members of city government. The designation signified that First Central had a long-term vision and commitment to serving the needs of the Hispanic market.
In 2007, First Central moved its Hillsboro office to 117 East Franklin Street. With this move we went from a desk to a three room building that housed a teller counter and a members service office. We renovated the office and started a branding process so that all the branches look the same. The Hillsboro office hours went from 2 days a week to 5 days a week. Our field of membership now included all of Hill County and the addition of local industries to our select
In July 2008, First Central merged with Superior Community Credit Union in Brownwood, Texas. The Brownwood branch office, at 2101 Fisk Avenue, served all of Brown County in addition to outlying counties. Through the Friends of Consumer Freedom Act those who live, work or worship in Bosque, Falls, Coryell, San Saba, Mills, Comanche, Eastland, Callahan, Coleman, and McCulloch Counties were also eligible for membership. The most recent merge came in June of 2011 when First Central merged with the Waco-based Sears Credit Union, which added more overall benefits of financial products and services for their members.
Continued Hillsboro growth led to the next move in July 2012. Our new and current Hillsboro location at 305 Coke Street was chosen for the community's traffic flow to other existing retailers. This branch now offered drive-thru service, night-drop convenience, and an ATM for members.
The fifth First Central branch office is located in Bellmead at 3100 Bellmead Drive an outlying Northern community of Waco, Texas. The building previously housed the local school district's administration, and was renovated by First Central to provide additional convenient McLennan County locations for members. In 2016 the renovation of a larger Brownwood building purchased in 2015, was complete and we officially opened for service in October. This structure was transformed with state-of-the-art technology and offered an on-site coin counter, ATM and four drive-thru lanes.
Our Future: By knowing the value of saving a quarter, First Centrals 14 founding members started a credit union with five branches, more than 14,000 members, and assets that exceed $76 million 80 years later. We help others achieve over their lifetime.
"We are growing and we hope to continue growing by offering a full spectrum of financial services with a commitment to service delivery that is second to none," states President Jo Betsy Tyler. "Since 1937, First Central has strived to provide the best financial services for its members, and we plan to continue doing just that."