These members share how ALEC answered their need — and helped make their lives a little easier.
Helping people live more rewarding lives and enjoy their free time has always been one of our highest priorities.
Young or old, financially experienced or not, everyone has a story to tell. At ALEC, we’re deeply committed to enriching the personal experiences of our members in every way we can.
Mike’s father was a senior financial manager at Abbott, so he could teach his son a little about looking after money. This is what he counseled: “At ALEC, they are less restrictive than bigger commercial banks. There is no minimum amount you have to keep in your checking account, and there is only a $5 membership fee, which you get back if you ever close your account.”
That advice was good enough for Mike. He signed up to become a member.
The most memorable experience Mike had at ALEC was on his birthday many years ago, when he wanted to cash a check he'd received as a gift. He was told there wasn’t enough money in his account to cover it. But, he protested; he’d set up a direct deposit some time ago that should have provided plenty of cushion.
He discussed this odd predicament with Teller Supervisor Angie O’Connor. Angie dug deeper and reviewed the recent account activity with him. She found several charges on his ALEC debit card that he, himself, hadn't made. She’d uncovered fraudulent transactions.
“Angie was quick and attentive when working with me to recover the funds in my account,” Mike said. “She showed concern for my financial situation and took a proactive approach to provide a more-than-satisfactory result.” The funds were returned to his account within half an hour.
Mike would encourage family members to join ALEC based on his overall experience. He’s found that transactions always go smoothly, and that ALEC makes it easy for him to stay connected to his money.
In addition, he has found the service at ALEC to be consistent, making banking as simple as possible.
Since becoming a member, Mike has moved twice, living in three Illinois towns overall, with Mundelein being the farthest from ALEC’s Gurnee headquarters.
“There have to be 40 banks on the way from Mundelein to Gurnee that I could have gone to for convenience, but I’ve always chosen ALEC,” he said.
ALEC has proven its worth to Mike in many ways — service, dedication and expertise being keys. When a business and its employees are so clearly on your side, it’s hard to look anywhere else.
“I am happy and I like it here,” he said. “I have no intention of bringing my personal financial business anywhere else.”
To members, ALEC is something closer to a friend than a business associate. But, when the need arises, it’s a very welcome and rewarding business associate, too.
Lou Lou and her husband Rich became ALEC members as soon as Rich started his employment at Abbott in September 1990. In ALEC, they were looking for a relationship, rather than an account at a huge bank. They found it in Jennifer Stoerp, a loan originator at the ALEC Gurnee office, when they needed help refinancing their Illinois home.
Soon after that, they found their future dream retirement home in Alaska, and Jennifer came through again. The transaction could have been complicated, considering, among several factors, the distance between Alaska and Illinois, but Jen and ALEC ironed out all the wrinkles practically without Lou Lou and Rich lifting a finger.
Upon the consummation of that sale, Lou Lou was moved to write a thank-you note to ALEC in which she said of Jen, “She answered our questions, provided needed information and guided us through all of that paperwork with patience, humor, proficiency and warmth.” That’s the ALEC advantage.
Lou Lou says that one of the benefits of their ALEC affiliation is that their son can be a member, too. Membership in ALEC is open to employees and retirees of Abbott or AbbVie, family members of current Abbott and AbbVie employees, and family of current ALEC members. Their son lives in Alaska and, rather than writing and mailing him checks, Lou Lou sends him money via account-to-account transfers for occasions such as his birthday or Christmas.
She prefers to come in to ALEC and do her transactions in person with a teller, simply because she likes having interaction with a person, rather than a machine like at her other financial institution.
“When I come into ALEC, the transaction always goes smoothly. I can depend on the money to securely get to the right place instantly when the teller verifies where I am transferring my funds. It helps us stay connected.”
ALEC has all the advantages of the biggest commercial banks, but it also has one that they don’t have: people like Jen to escort members through their financial anxieties.
To passers-by, ALEC may seem too good to be true. John found out it is as good as it seems, if not better.
John had driven by the ALEC Gurnee site many times and wondered about its reputation for superior products and services, so he dropped in one day to inquire about a car loan.
“I walked into the branch and sat down with Colleen Farm, a member service representative. She explained who ALEC was and who was eligible for membership,” John said. “My son is an AbbVie employee, so luckily, I qualified for membership.”
Under a new, broadened policy, membership is now open to employees and retirees of Abbott and AbbVie, family members of current Abbott and AbbVie employees and family members of current ALEC members.
John was in the market for a new vehicle and concluded that ALEC had the best rate, which was no surprise given that, as a not-for-profit financial cooperative, ALEC returns its profits to members in the form of higher rates on deposits and lower rates on loans.
Colleen Farm helped John with his auto loan, even filling out the application for him. He was approved and got his car.
“She was able to talk through all information with me as she filled out the paperwork. She was very aware and knowledgeable on lending procedures. It was not hard — in fact, it was very easy to get an auto loan working with Colleen.”
ALEC has had a great impact on his financial situation because, before getting the auto loan with ALEC, he checked rates with his bank of 20 years to see whether he could get a lower rate there. Not even close. “I even contacted their underwriting department, and they wouldn’t do anything,” John said.
He recommends ALEC to his family members. “I am a creature of habit. I am not willing to change my life on a dime, but I plan to eventually take all of my financial business to ALEC.” The best part about ALEC, along with the auto-loan rate, was the pleasant experience. “I presented the problem, Colleen provided the answer, documentation was provided and it was done.”
ALEC surpassed John’s expectations on his first encounter and lists himself as a convert. “As my financial needs grow, I will be thinking of ALEC.”
ALEC offers just about any of the services that other financial institutions do, as well as its own well-known friendly, personal service. And members can continue to use those services even after they’re no longer affiliated with Abbott or AbbVie.
In 1991, Jaz went to work as a janitor at AP6 in Abbott Park. He joined ALEC, the credit union for employees and retirees (and their families) of Abbott and AbbVie, and was able to bank right there at AP6 — the site of one of ALEC’s many service centers.
Jaz no longer works for Abbott, but he wouldn’t part company with ALEC and continues to take advantage of its “once a member, always a member” policy.
“When I have interactions throughout the day,” Jaz said, “I like to laugh, joke around and have fun. It’s important to know when to be serious dealing with financial matters, but still personable during daily conversation. ALEC does both.”
When Jaz has financial business to take care of in person — he typically handles most of his business via ALEC’s mobile banking app — he enjoys going to the Gurnee Service Center and introducing himself to the tellers. “I am an outspoken guy, believe it or not, but I feel like the employees at ALEC relate to me. They accurately solve issues and answer questions while being extremely personable.”
He is especially impressed with the ALEC Mobile Banking app. Jaz says, “The mobile experience is wonderful. I can see my balance instantly, see pending transactions and it’s easy to set up accounts on bill pay.” He can monitor his daughter’s accounts, as well.
He also appreciates Courtesy Pay, an overdraft-protection service, which, for a $28 fee, covers transactions that exceed the balance in a member’s checking account. “I would rather pay a $28 fee than have a check bounce and incur a late fee from that company and my financial institution,” he reasons.
Jaz said he would encourage family members to join ALEC. In the years since he’s become a member, many people in his family have become ALEC members too, including his mom, stepfather, wife and daughter.
Members usually come to ALEC for the convenience, great rates and personal service. And they don’t miss out on any of the features touted by big banks, either.
Ensuring you have financial security is really a matter of the most fundamental education. ALEC has demonstrated time and again that it is the master of the three R’s of service: range, reliability and resourcefulness.
Jennifer, a three-decade employee of Abbott, has been an ALEC devotee since 2010, so she knows very well about its range of services, with an auto loan, a credit card, a personal loan and checking and savings accounts.
She also is intimately familiar with ALEC's reliability because she has seen over the years that, unlike at a bank, where she is viewed as a customer, at ALEC she is treated as the credit-union partner she is.
As for resourcefulness, Jennifer got a firsthand demonstration not long ago when she needed some home improvements. She figured the answer was a home equity line of credit, or HELOC. But ALEC doesn't offer HELOCs in California, where Jennifer works, so what was she to do? Go to an impersonal and profit-focused bank?
She tried, even consulting a friend in the mortgage industry. But the bank quoted her one HELOC rate and later another, so she turned to ALEC's mortgage loan originator, Emily Smith, for an alternative solution: a mortgage refinance.
“Emily was amazing,” Jennifer said. “She was knowledgeable and answered all my questions. The bank wanted so much documentation, and the process was so long and drawn out. But with Emily, within three weeks it was all done.”
And here's where the resourcefulness came in: By choosing ALEC’s refinance option, Jennifer’s monthly payment came in at $3,600, compared with the bank's HELOC figure of $4,300.
“I was shocked that I was able to save over $600 every month for borrowing the same exact amount,” Jennifer beamed. “It all seemed so crazy, it was almost too easy!”
Next on the agenda is establishing a retirement plan for Jennifer and her husband to protect the next stage of their lives. For that, they will be speaking with one of the professionals at ALEC Wealth Management — and very soon.
“Being with ALEC has been the best experience ever,” Jennifer said. It has been an education, all right.
If it sounds too good to be true, don’t give up on it — it might not be. Phil found that out while buying a new car. In financing it, he received through the dealership what seemed like a pretty good deal. Until it occurred to him to see what ALEC could do for him.
Waiting for service to be completed on his car at a dealership one Saturday afternoon, Phil, an ALEC member since 2015, strolled around looking at new cars and comparing features and prices. He happened onto one that seemed to fit all his cravings. Before he knew it, he was on a test drive and quickly learned he was in love.
Once back at the dealership, Phil negotiated the purchase price on a new Nissan Pathfinder and was convinced by the dealership that, given his strong credit score, he’d have to look no further for the best finance rate.
Still, as he drove off the lot, he wondered if he’d made a mistake by not conferring with ALEC, just to see if he could do even better. So the next day, he contacted Denise, his ALEC member service representative at the CP1 Service Center.
Denise was able to craft a far better deal for Phil in a number of important areas. By refinancing with ALEC, he got these key advantages:
- A lower interest rate.
- A lower monthly payment – $407 instead of $443.
- Dramatic savings over the life of the loan.
- Mechanical Breakdown Protection plus GAP insurance.
Phil was ecstatic. “I’m going to end up saving about $2,500 at the end of the day,” he proclaimed. “And I won’t have to worry about anything going wrong with it, because I have the Mechanical Breakdown Protection. I will never step foot into another dealership before speaking with Denise. It could have saved me a couple extra steps, but I still came out on top, thanks to ALEC!”
Dream car. Dream deal. ALEC makes dreams come true for its members.
John and Sandi had always heard the saying about credit union membership that “Once a Member – Always a Member.” After all, they have been with ALEC since 1993, joining as soon as John was hired by Abbott. But when John took on a position with a different company, they truly appreciated still being ALEC members. That’s when John became worried his older vehicle might not make his 35-mile commute each way. In fact, the escalating repair costs seemed like the car was driving them to the poorhouse, not the workplace. When they decided to shop for a new car last year, their first stop was ALEC for their auto loan.
Lana, ALEC Senior Member Service Representative, immediately began working on their auto loan, so that John and Sandi could take advantage of the best rate and terms available. “Lana was wonderful, and made the entire process easy and painless,” said Sandi. In keeping with the ALEC philosophy, Lana’s focus was on John and Sandi, not just on the loan. So she began looking for other ways that ALEC could help them achieve their financial goals.
“Thanks to Lana’s guidance, our existing checking account was also upgraded and we even got an increase on our Visa® card limit, so we could install a new fence at home,” explains John. Sandi adds, “Lana made it feel as if John and I were the only members she was assisting. Her attention was completely on us and on meeting our needs.”
John and Sandi, together with Lana and ALEC, were a winning combination. But John and Sandi are no strangers to feeling fortunate. Late in 2014, John and Sandi were ALEC’s lucky Visa® Magic Minute winners. They won a stay at one of the finest hotels in Chicago — all expenses paid — with a 60-second shopping spree in the CURewards® warehouse. John and Sandi had an amazing time running up and down the aisles, loading their cart with as much merchandise as they could fit in one minute. “It was quite a rush,” exclaims John. Sandi was already a huge fan of the CURewards® program that gives them points when they use their ALEC Visa® card. Now they may be the program’s greatest cheerleaders.
So how is the new car running? “Smooth as silk,” describes John. There’s just one little issue. Their eldest son is 16 years old and will be driving soon. Needless to say, John and Sandi will be calling ALEC in the future for another auto loan.
It makes sense that John and Sandi will count on ALEC whenever there’s a financial need in their family. As Sandi describes, “We feel like family whenever we come into our credit union or call anyone at ALEC.”
Thank you, John and Sandi, for being part of the ALEC family.
When Terri says that ALEC makes her feel welcome as a member, she means it. Each time she comes into the ALEC branch office, she is greeted with a cheerful “Good Morning” or “Hello.” It’s the personal attention that first impressed Terri when she became a member in 1999. All these years later, Terri remains impressed by how the ALEC staff goes the extra mile. Terri admits she does not remember her membership number and appreciates the friendly way the tellers say, “That’s no problem — we’re happy to look it up for you.”
It’s these little things that Terri, her husband Jim, and the entire family appreciate about their relationship with ALEC. Yet it is big things such as how ALEC saves them money or recommends financial solutions to achieve their dreams that have been life-changing experiences.
When Terri and Jim’s son Andrew was preparing to attend college, Terri asked ALEC for advice on paying for tuition. ALEC’s team focused on Terri’s goals and financial situation, then recommended ALEC’s home equity line of credit. This solution allowed Andrew to begin college and play tennis at the collegiate level, after ranking as a top player on his high school team. Andrew was offered a scholarship that saved his parents a lot of money. “It was all because someone at ALEC recommended a home equity line to us that got him started, and of course, his love for tennis,” recalls Terri.
ALEC’s championship form extended beyond the tennis court for Terri and her family. When Terri’s elderly father was considering refinancing his mortgage, she inquired about ALEC’s products and rates. ALEC established a new family membership for Terri’s father, then he chose to refinance with ALEC. This resulted in a lower rate and big savings.
Most recently, Terri guided her son through the ALEC auto loan application process — both to purchase a vehicle and start building credit. Terri co-signed on the auto loan to get it approved and at a great rate due to her excellent credit score. “This was a good life-learning lesson for our son about the importance of establishing good credit,” explains Terri. “We left with big smiles after the loan closed.”
“ALEC offers so much, I would not do my banking anywhere else,” summarizes Terri. “I love the convenience and personal service every time, and know they have my best interest at heart. They are truly people helping people and all about integrity.”
Thank you to Terri and her family for being part of the ALEC family. We’re happy that a long relationship started with a friendly “Hello.”
Establishing credit, being approved for a mortgage or buying a car can be daunting even for someone who has grown up in the United States. Imagine coming to this country and having to learn how the American financial system works, while needing to make major purchases right away.
That was the dilemma for Simona who accepted a position in 2010, relocating to the U.S. from Venezuela. Her family planned to join her a year later, so Simona relied on the advice from colleagues on how to get started financially.
The first thing Simona did was join ALEC. She knew that establishing a good credit history in the U.S. was essential, so she was grateful when ALEC approved her for a new credit card. Even though her credit worthiness was stellar in her home country of Venezuela, the ALEC team focused on Simona’s unique situation and worked diligently to establish her financial standing in this country. “I am very appreciative that ALEC gave me a starting chance,” says Simona. “They counseled me through the process, and today my credit is so good I receive credit card offers every day!”
Simona also needed a new car upon relocating, and again, ALEC approved her for an auto loan. She had her new car in no time at all. When her husband Jose and their children joined Simona in the U.S. a year later, they agreed to choose ALEC for their new mortgage. This might sound surprising given that Jose has worked as an investment advisor for several years, and his employer is a large financial company. Simona explains it clearly, “It is because we are loyal to ALEC.”
Since becoming members of ALEC, Simona and Jose have counted on the credit union for financial products, services and recommendations to fulfill their immediate financial needs as well as plan for the future. They already have ALEC Visa® cards, savings accounts, a checking account and the mortgage for their first home in the United States. Being smart with their money was also important in order to pay for the college education of their children. Simona and Jose have three beautiful children, two who are completing college here in the U.S. and one who lives in Spain.
Do Simona and Jose feel at home with the U.S. financial process now, and especially with ALEC? “I like everything about ALEC, especially the friendly, personalized service that I can’t imagine experiencing elsewhere,” exclaims Simona. “Absolutely nothing can compare to how they treat us.”
Thank you to Simona, Jose and their family for being such loyal members of the ALEC family.
It is often said that laughter is the best medicine. For Barry, who is known for his great sense of humor, that saying is true. Yet when Barry and his wife Mary decided to open a Health Savings Account (HSA), they were serious about working with a financial institution that offered personal service to walk them through the process.
Mary’s company recommended that she and Barry open a membership with ALEC. They became members in 2014 and opened their HSA account.
During the winter months, Mary (who is now retired) and Barry (who owns his own company) live in a home they own in Florida. So they appreciate how easy it is for them to do their banking and be in touch with ALEC no matter where they’re located.
Barry recalls a time he and Mary were at their Florida residence when he needed assistance with ALEC’s website. He contacted ALEC’s call center and spoke with a Member Services Representative, coincidentally also named Mary. She helped Barry navigate through the website, explaining all the convenient online banking features. “Mary’s service skills were simply outstanding,” recalls Barry. “During every interaction, Mary was always thinking ahead, already on the next step.”
Mary at ALEC’s call center became Barry’s go-to person for any questions he had about his finances. When he challenged a fee that occurred on the HSA account, Barry made it clear that he wanted no part of paying ongoing fees. Mary walked Barry through the HSA process to explain what caused the fee to generate, and put all her focus on solutions to avoid having this fee happen in the future. “Mary explained the information with true empathy to my preferences,” says Barry. “She wasn’t reading a written procedure like some customer service providers do. She was genuine, enthusiastic and wanted to help me avoid any future fees.”
In fact, Barry credits Mary at ALEC with his decision to keep his HSA account open and to stay with the credit union. “All of my experiences with ALEC have been with Mary,” adds Barry. “To me, she is a face of the credit union and I like being on a winning team. And she enjoys my sense of humor!”
As a business owner, Barry says he can recognize people who are just doing their job versus those who are outstanding and proactive. “Mary should be recognized for the great job she does,” says Barry.
So is there anything else ALEC could do to make Barry happy? “Yes, give me a pair of Chicago Blackhawks tickets,” he lightheartedly remarks.
Thank you to Barry and his wife Mary for being so appreciative of the personal service they receive from ALEC. And for keeping all of us smiling.
David has been with ALEC from the start! In 1990 when ALEC opened its doors, David joined the credit union. Recently, David experienced a worrisome situation when his wallet was lost. He was in “panic mode” as he put it, understandably so. In addition to cash and all of his identification, David’s ALEC cards were in his wallet when it was lost.
While speaking with Tramaine in ALEC’s Consumer Lending/Visa® department, David expressed how grateful he was by the manner in which Tramaine handled this situation. “Tramaine was on top of it, from start to finish!” Tramaine did everything possible to prevent David from having to place additional calls to corresponding departments and ensured that his cards (Visa® and Debit) were frozen, and replacement cards were ordered and expedited to him. He goes on to share that he relies on his cards for everyday use and access to his cash. David lives in Wisconsin, so driving to the main branch in Gurnee, IL is not always convenient for him. Easy fix! David is now aware that ALEC is a participant in the credit union shared branching network and has located some credit unions right in his neighborhood! He is so happy about this and plans on utilizing these locations often.
David could not express enough how thankful he was for Tramaine’s outstanding assistance and the attention that she applied to him during a very nervous and frightening time. David shared that Tramaine was completely focused on him and not only were the new cards expedited, but Tramaine was diligent and researched his entire membership information. She also recommended changing the membership number as an added security precaution. Tramaine took ownership throughout the entire process and in the end, our member was protected, and the situation was resolved, leaving a lasting impact with our member of trust and peace of mind.
The wallet was returned to David, placed in his mailbox the following day. All of his items were inside, except the cash. He didn’t mind that, though, he said that someone was obviously in need of cash – “I’m just glad that they returned the wallet with everything else”. He contacted Tramaine right away to let her know and to once again thank her for her expertise and her diligence that she applied to his situation.
Over the past 25 years, David has had loans and many other products with ALEC. He continuously expressed during our conversation how extremely happy he is (and has been) for the variety of products, the services, the convenience of banking, but mostly for the personalized level of service that he has always received from ALEC.
Moving to a new job and new city requires having a financial partner that can move fast, too. Just ask Nicolas, a new member of ALEC. When Nicolas relocated to a different city, he and his family had already lived in Europe, the U.K., Poland and Australia. Now they are making the U.S. their permanent residence—and making several commitments that need smart financial guidance.
Fortunately, there was an ALEC Service Center right in Nicolas’ workplace, and his co-workers recommended that he join the credit union. Lynn, an ALEC Senior Member Services Representative in that Service Center, established Nicolas’ membership and focused on his immediate and longer-term financial needs. Nicolas’ top priority was to buy a new vehicle, so Lynn helped him complete the auto loan application. How does he describe the experience? “Pure positive,” exclaims Nicolas. “Lynn made the process so smooth and quick, and the rates are great.”
Lynn’s focus on Nicolas’ financial needs didn’t stop there. She compared his auto loan from another financial institution for his other recently purchased car with ALEC’s rate and realized she could save him money on that loan as well. “Lynn was quick from start to finish,” recalls Nicolas. “I had the refinancing approval letter in my hand within a couple of hours.
The two cars allow Nicolas and his family to get around. But they also wanted to stay in one place—that’s why they had just purchased a home and were in the closing process. As Lynn described ALEC’s products, she recommended a home equity line of credit to use as Nicolas and his family got settled and also draw upon for future needs. Nicolas appreciated Lynn’s recommendation and has since established a line of credit.
As Nicolas’ new membership with ALEC continues to develop, so does his family’s great relationship with Lynn. “I do online banking like everyone, but it’s so great to walk into a Service Center and have someone I know take care of me. Lynn and everyone at ALEC make me feel like I am of the utmost importance.”
“ALEC’s motto says ‘Our Focus is You’ and they really mean it,” emphasizes Nicolas. Lynn focused on me and my family to find great solutions to our specific needs.”
We’re happy to help Nicolas and his family focus on achieving their financial goals. We look forward to focusing on you, too.
You might think that, if you need to take out a loan to buy a new car, it doesn't make any difference which lending institution you go to. Don't bank on it. Karen got a double dose of good fortune in early 2016 when she decided to buy a new car while making the transition from working woman to retiree.
Karen retired from AbbVie after a successful career in sales, so she knew something about financing a big purchase. Even so, she wisely solicited the facts, and her very well grounded opinion of where to get a car loan was dramatically reinforced.
She picked out her vehicle and then compared rates from ALEC and two other lenders. Do you think interest rates are so low these days that the difference is indiscernible?
Karen found plenty to discern: One lender was offering 2.89% APR financing; the second, 2.49% and ALEC, 1.99%. Financing through ALEC saved her $6.38 a month and $331.91 over the life of the 48-month loan compared to the lender with the lower rate; compared to the other, her savings from ALEC were $11.34 and $597.62. Why, she wondered, would anybody opt to pay $597.62 more? Or $331.13? Or even $1?
What makes ALEC able to offer such a superior arrangement and save members so much money?
At ALEC, we operate in an entirely different culture from that of other financial-services providers. While other providers are typically created to drive profits for shareholders, a credit union is in business to help its members get ahead financially in a number of ways, including the lowest possible rates on loans and highest possible rates on savings. ALEC has no corporate shareholders it is trying to enrich. Instead, it returns its profits to its members, in the form of better rates and broader services. When you join a credit union, you immediately become a beneficiary of the organization. ALEC is on your side in every transaction.
We mentioned Karen's double dose of good fortune. Not only did she save all that money on her car loan, during the process of helping her arrange the best deal she could get, ALEC's loan representatives, always attentive to their members' best interests, uncovered a mistake in Karen's credit rating in one of the major credit bureau's reports. Correcting the error means her rating was restored to the superior level she had always enjoyed.
That, too, is part of the culture of ALEC: the best loan and savings rates augmented by a genuine personal concern by everyone in the organization, from CEO Joseph Trosclair on down. In his words, "Our undivided attention is focused on improving our members' financial well-being and future."
As a member, Karen knew ALEC was the head of the class. But what a comforting and personally gratifying reminder. For all of us.
To Mark and his wife Diane, credit unions have always made sense. After all, who wouldn't prefer to take care of the enormous range of financial functions life requires via a provider that establishes services and rates with members rather than corporate stockholders in mind? ALEC has never done anything but reinforce that belief.
Mark joined Abbott in 1989, shortly before ALEC was founded. To him, ALEC made sense, not just because of the financial inducements credit unions enjoy over banks, but the ALEC location itself couldn't have been more convenient. As a not-for-profit institution, ALEC returns profits to members as increased interest rates on deposits, reduced interest rates on loans and service improvements.
Mark began with a checking and a savings account and a credit card. Since then, both he and Diane have added various loans and services they would need on their journey through life.
Over the years, they have used various ALEC Service Centers - AP6, AP22, AP30 and, most recently, ABV1 in Mettawa, Illinois. And it was to ABV1, just recently, that Mark and Diane turned when they decided to buy a new car. ALEC has developed a free resource called the Auto Buying Service, powered by TrueCar®, which helps you find the car you want, show what others have paid for it and enjoy significant savings. In addition, ALEC will eliminate most of the routine red tape associated with car buying and soothe the related headaches.
Mark and Diane chose the kind of vehicle and the TrueCar®-certified dealer they wanted, needing only to settle on the particular car. They turned the rest over to ALEC. "I gave Lynn (an ALEC Member Service Representative) a brief heads-up on a Thursday that we are looking for a car soon, and that we would be financing it through ALEC," Mark recalled. Lynn immediately went to work with the limited information she had and awaited Mark and Diane's call with the missing details, such as purchase price, year, make and model.
During his lunch break the following day, Mark met Diane at the dealership, and they made their final choice. While they were still at the dealership finalizing the paperwork, Diane sent a text to Lynn with the information she needed. The next afternoon as he was leaving work, Mark dropped by the onsite ALEC Service Center. To his delight, Lynn had taken care of everything.
"There was Lynn with all the paperwork ready, as well as the check for the dealership! As painful as the entire car-buying process was, the ALEC piece was incredibly easy, thanks to Lynn," Mark said.
Unparalleled service, ease of conducting business and through professionalism typified by Lynn are bonuses to complement the fundamental credit-union advantages of more-attractive rates.
ALEC's success are returned to its members - not to corporate stockholders. Mark and Diane knew that. But they had it driven home once again when they climbed into their brand-new automobile.
Sometimes, a simple decision we make winds up solving problems we'd never even anticipated. That sums up La Tonya's experience when she opened a checking account with ALEC.
Back in 2002, as a member of the Abbott family with an ALEC branch close by, she took advantage of the convenience by initiating that most fundamental of services. Little did she suspect then that she was planting a seed that would bear so much fruit for her over the years, including a credit card, a personal loan and two auto loans.
La Tonya confronted some financial uncertainty, common to most of us, compounded by the fact in 2012 that she needed a new car. She wondered about her credit - was it a plus or a minus: would it work for her or against her? She met with Bareeda Khan, a member service representative at ALEC's Gurnee headquarters. "I loved that Bareeda took the time to review my credit report and made me realize I can qualify for an auto loan," La Tonya said, looking back on that very significant encounter. "She made me feel at ease and comfortable throughout the transaction."
Recently, she needed a cash advance, and again, ALEC was there to solve and soothe. Louise Stoyanoff at the Gurnee teller line counseled La Tonya, asked a few questions and was quickly able to explain her borrowing options. The transaction was consummated easily and gracefully, providing much-appreciated peace of mind, along with the cash.
As far as La Tonya is concerned, she is committed to ALEC as her financial institution. "The rates on all the products are really great," she enthuses, "and I love that ALEC offers so many educational options, like webinars and seminars. I also love that everyone knows my name!"
Can the simple act of opening a checking account really spawn such devotion? At ALEC, it can, thanks to unparalleled service, excellent rates and a knowledgeable, dedicated staff bent on leading members onto the road to financial security. As La Tonya learned, it's not just business as usual.
Donna, in Worcester, Massachusetts, has a couple of things in common with many other ALEC members: She came for the outstanding rates and wound up finding plenty of other reasons to stay.
Donna joined ALEC in 2002 out of the Abbott facility there, which later became an AbbVie site. ALEC had - and still has - an on-site ATM, which was very handy for her. The credit union also offered the opportunity to open a direct-deposit savings account for a rainy-day fund. The rates were the best she could find.
As her life evolved, her relationship with ALEC tightened, via multiple car loans, a Visa® account and a Health Savings Account, all through the credit union. As she had with her savings account, she investigated features and rates at competing institutions but quickly learned that, when it came to finding the best rates and service, there wasn't much competition at all.
What Donna found during her interactions with ALEC was that the benefit of doing business there amounted to a lot more than her financial well-being. Of course, she was saving money each step of the way, but she was quickly growing to appreciate that ALEC representatives were thorough and eager to help. She felt they were taking her hand and leading her through each process in a way other institutions simply don't match.
In fact, while arranging a car loan for her daughter, a rep went into impressive detail on auto-protection packages that were available to guard against any calamity that could arise. Both Donna and her daughter were grateful for the peace of mind derived from a plan tailored for that specific situation.
Donna has had memorable, helpful encounters with other ALEC representatives involving other accounts, as well. For example, a business development rep solved some issues with a balance transfer to a new ALEC Visa® card. She was especially gratified to learn she had some higher-interest options available as funds built up in her Health Savings Account. She is now earning a higher rate, thanks to ALEC's caring, proactive staff. Furthermore, she has always felt that the process has worked to her benefit: She talked, staffers listened, and she reaped the benefits.
So what started as a transaction based on convenience progresses through a number of layers, at last graduating to genuine member loyalty. Even in places, such as Worcester, where there is no physical branch, ALEC makes it easy to save time and money with such services as an on-site deposit box, online banking, mobile banking, mobile check deposits, and shared branches...
There's a lot to like when you get to know ALEC.
Scott came to work at Abbott 11 years ago and turned immediately to ALEC to find the way to financial security. He was promptly given the best directions by the best people offering the best product. And he appreciates it.
Scott has of course been gratified by the interest-rate advantage a member-owned credit union has over a bank. But, well beyond that, he has been moved by the personal care and attention he has received from ALEC's people. In his words, "The member service, no matter which location I use, has always been astounding. The staff knows what they're doing, they're polite and efficient. They seem to really like what they're doing. I have worked with three ALEC branches in Abbott Park and admit that I consider them as friends and not just client service representatives."
Scott has enlisted help from ALEC in a wide range of areas. When he started at Abbott, he enjoyed the ease of his paycheck being deposited directly into an ALEC account. Later, he bought a new truck and could have paid cash, but he wanted to cement his favorable credit status. He turned over all the details of the transaction to a teller supervisor. All he had to do, as he was happy to learn, was sign the papers.
For Scott, ALEC is the place for all his banking needs - checking, savings, money market and that truck loan. "I fully trust the financial advice that my friends at ALEC provide," he says confidently. That trust compelled him to persuade his wife Michele to join ALEC, too.
They have been rewarded in more ways than they had anticipated. Not long ago, Scott was a victim of identity theft. By the time the Social Security Administration notified him of the scam, ALEC had already spotted unusual activity on his debit card, canceled out the one and issued a new EMV chip card. That decisive action immediately installed a new layer of security against the threat of credit-card fraud and possible financial disaster. Such is the peace of mind flowing to ALEC members.
Scott lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but banking is never a chore, thanks to those three ALEC Service Centers convenient to him, along with the ALEC main office in nearby Gurnee. He'll retire in a couple of years and may move South. Then, he can rely on all the ways ALEC provides for members to manage their money, including Online Banking, Mobile Banking and 28,000 free ATMs and 5,000 shared-branch locations across the U.S.
Scott's initial harmonious relationship with ALEC has paved the way for a worry-free financial present. And the road to the future appears just as straight and smooth.
A quarter of a century of very satisfying business dealing with ALEC has cemented Dennis and DeEdra's attachment to the credit union to the point where it is spawning a second generation of loyal patrons - even from almost 1,000 miles away.
Dennis has worked for Abbott since 1987, first in the Pharmaceutical Products Division (PPD) in Illinois and currently in the Abbott Diagnostics Division (ADD) in Irving, Texas. DeEdra, meanwhile, went to work at Abbott in Illinois right after college. They married and eventually transferred to Texas to be closer to DeEdra's family in Dallas. The transfers immediately had the effect of setting the bonds with ALEC a quiver, though, as we'll see, in the end, those bonds remained just as sturdy as ever.
Dennis began his relationship with ALEC for very pragmatic reasons: the best loan and deposit rates he could find. When he moved to Texas, he closed his membership, suspecting full service there would be out of the question. But, though ALEC has its roots in Illinois, where all eight branches are, Dennis was delighted to find out through a regular visit to the Irving facility nearby and an ALEC representative, that its reach extends far beyond the home operation. He found out ALEC has 5,000 shared branches around the country, as well as 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs. In addition, to make account access easy, mobile and online banking are available to all. The Irving facility provides a deposit box for members there.
So Dennis was relieved to learn he could resume the partnership he had formed and enjoyed in Illinois without any interruption in service. He contacted the ALEC Call Center, initiating subsequent phone and email communications that netted him a lightning-quick loan to buy a red T-top Corvette and also secured a personal loan to consolidate higher-rate loans from other institutions. That latter loan, he learned, would save the couple $50 a month in payments or allow them to keep the same payments and retire the debt earlier. And the same intimate personal relationship they'd become accustomed to in Illinois enveloped them in Irving.
And, while they were at it, they arranged a loan for their son, Corbin, to buy a new BMW 328i, since he was still establishing a credit history himself and thus faced far less attractive rates from other lenders.
Dennis now talks glowingly about the great find that has been ALEC. It all started with his search for the best interest rate available - he still shops other lenders to search out the best rates - but his heart belongs to ALEC, not only because of the excellent rates, but because of the personal care he gets from a credit union that caters exclusively to members like him. And, no matter where he lives, ALEC will offer home-town convenience.
And, in Dennis and DeEdra's family, that cozy relationship has now spread to a second generation.
If you want to try something new - something that will one way or another make life easier for you - isn't it great to have a friend usher you through the process until you have it mastered? Chuck had a need, over his years with Abbott, for a couple of new banking services, and he was fortunate to have his old friend ALEC right there by his side.
Chuck joined the Abbott team 26 years ago. In 1990, ALEC opened at Abbott Park, making Chuck's decisions to join automatic: It couldn't have been any easier to manage his checking and savings accounts right where he worked. He'd always heard of the advantages of a credit union over a traditional bank, and ALEC had been established specifically to cater to Abbott employees.
One day, Chuck was in line at the AP30 site, and the subject of online banking was being discussed. The idea certainly sounded attractive, but, for him, the whole concept was pretty new, and he wanted to know more. Krystian, a Member Service Representative, happened to hear the conversation and came out of his office to offer to give Chuck a quick primer. After listening to Krystian's description of the features of the service for about 20 minutes, Chuck felt eager and ready to sign up. It turned out to be one of the best financial decisions. "If it hadn't been for Krystian, I probably still wouldn't be comfortable enough using online banking," he said recently. "Krystian was very friendly, accommodating and quick to serve." Chuck remains a devoted fan and a regular user of the service today.
Chuck had another, surprisingly similar, experience later. Again, he was in a teller line discussing a wire transfer he was obliged to conduct, though he knew little to nothing about how to go about it. And, again, Krystian overheard the conversation and emerged from his office to offer to fill Chuck in on what he needed to know. What could be a rather complicated procedure for some was simplified by an expert with the gift of understanding.
"It's easy to see that Krystian really loves what he does," Chuck says gratefully. "And he's great at it! On both occasions, he looked to provide assistance in advance of being asked for it. I find his demeanor to be friendly, calm and instructive, leaving me feeling confident that my transaction was handled properly each time."
A lot of know-how, complemented by an equal measure of compassion - that's how ALEC remains a trusted friend to Chuck and thousands of others like him.
Wayne, a longtime employee of a financial holding company, was chatting with his son Pete at a family gathering, and the talk got around to money. Pete’s wife Tara has been an employee of Abbott for years, and the couple has joined the long list of very contented ALEC members. Wayne was so struck by his son’s enthusiastic attachment to ALEC that he decided to join the credit union, which takes only a $5 deposit. Wayne has been putting in $25 a month. He was about to see for himself that an attractive interest rate on savings is just the beginning of what ALEC can do for its members.
It happened soon after joining that Wayne’s wife Martha decided she wanted a new car. Because of his own career connections, Wayne felt right at home exploring the field of automobile financing. He went to the ALEC website and found, along with all the other advantages the credit union offers, that he could apply for a loan online, which is just what he did. He heard from Denise Chesnick, an ALEC Loan Call Center representative, who arranged his loan approval before the day was out, even though Wayne and Martha hadn’t yet even picked out a car. “Whenever you find your car, just call me, and I’ll take it from there,” Denise assured them.
Before long, they found the car Martha fell immediately in love with. Thanks to Denise, they had been armed with the loan rate before even stepping into the showroom. The salesman at the dealership broached the subject of an auto loan, and Wayne informed him they’d already tended to that end of the transaction. The salesman asked whom they were going through, and, when Wayne told him it was ALEC, he replied, “Yeah, we’re not going to be able to beat that,” before a number was even mentioned.
Subsequently, the dealer’s finance manager nevertheless offered Wayne and Martha a really attractive APR - lower, in fact, than ALEC’s - and Wayne declined, confident that the advantages in dealing with ALEC would more than offset even a slightly lower rate. Besides, he reasoned, “If ALEC hadn’t been in my back pocket, I would have never been offered that rate.”
Next, Wayne called Denise at ALEC to tell her the amount of loan he’d need, to which she replied, “No problem. I’ll process everything right away, and the check will be ready for you in the morning.” Which it of course was. Wayne was more than thrilled with the service. “Throughout my entire interaction with Denise and everyone else, I felt they were very member-oriented, courteous and pleasant,” he said. “I felt like they were looking out for me.”
Wayne’s next step was to confer with his mechanic about the new car, and the mechanic recommended he get an extended warranty because of the complexities of the vehicle. “I went with the Mechanical Breakdown Protection plan through ALEC,” Wayne said. When the entire transaction had been completed, Denise called Wayne to ensure that all had been done to his satisfaction.
“I had never been a member of a credit union before,” Wayne said. “But, after this experience, I’m convinced that ALEC has my best interests in mind.”
No matter what kind of financial service you require, ALEC will be at your side every step of the way.
With life's greatest moments of excitement often come life's greatest demands for composure. James, an Abbott employee at Abbott Park, experienced one of those moments of excitement not long ago and was delighted to be able to draw composure from his longtime relationship with ALEC.
James and his wife Kathleen got the thrilling news that their younger daughter, Alana, would be graduating from high school after only three years, followed by a semester to be spent studying in Germany. Immense parental pride and immediate parental preparation suddenly became the orders of the day. James's nearly quarter of a century with ALEC proved to be that source of comfort that his daughter's overseas experience would be the spectacular experience it should be.
James and Kathleen tried to think of everything that needed to be done to prepare their daughter for her adventure, but, as can happen at times like this, the issue of access to money slipped their minds until about a week before Alana was to get on the plane. Having reflected on the years of ALEC membership and their positive experiences, James turned to the AP6 Service Center at Abbott Park, where ALEC Member Service Representative Lana Kline took the reins. "I've always had great experiences with all the ALEC employees, from the very beginning," James recalled, "so I didn't have to think about much when we had to get our daughter's account set up."
Lana knew what kinds of resources Alana would need, and she quickly set about providing them. "I must've visited Lana almost every day that week," James said, "and every time I went, she was on top of everything. She made sure Alana had her debit card in hand before she left for Germany."
An important factor that probably would have escaped James's attention didn't escape Lana's: She helped James link his account to Alana's, so he was enabled to make transfers into her account from his in Abbott Park. And, of course, Alana had her ALEC debit card in her purse when she boarded her plane for her epic journey.
Alana spent a successful semester in Germany, which she will never forget. The entire experience unfolded seamlessly, thanks in part to Alana and ALEC. James and Kathleen will never forget the thoughtful and professional services they counted on and received from their "home" institution.
"All of my everyday banking is done with ALEC. You can't beat the convenience, and the service is always very member-focused," James reflected recently. For example, when he needed a home equity line of credit in the past, he turned to ALEC. "There's really no need for us to go anywhere else. Having relocated all over the world on multiple occasions, we always stayed with ALEC."
Whether it's the most routine transaction or a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking, ALEC will stand beside you every step of the way.
Members who come to ALEC generally wind up sticking with ALEC. That’s at least partly because they find out ALEC always sticks with them.
ALEC offers all the financial services other financial institutions do. And, strictly from a dollars-and-cents standpoint, it offers them at rates that typically beat theirs. In most cases, ALEC pays more on deposits and charges less on loans.
But, to the majority of people, ALEC’s most compelling asset is its people, who by nature and training, work hard to find ways to help their fellow members they serve. The relationship that evolves is based on trust earned by success. Convenience prompts the introduction, but compassionate service tightens the bond.
Kumar had recently relocated to the Lake County, Ill., area in January 2008 after joining Abbott. After initially hearing about ALEC during orientation, Kumar recognized the convenience of banking with the ALEC Service Center in AP30. So, a few months later, he went to that Service Center to open a savings account and met Senior Service Center Manager Cindy Stanis.
“Cindy was extremely knowledgeable and very patient,” Kumar recalled. “She helped my recent college-graduate son establish credit with his first credit card and took time in explaining all the pros and cons.”
As time went on, Kumar was in the market for a home equity line of credit. Not surprisingly, he turned again to ALEC.
“My wife and I are low-risk, conservative types. And Cindy’s tailored approach to our situation is why we came to trust her,” Kumar said. “We had accounts at another financial institution, but we only came to ALEC, and that's because of Cindy. She explained all the details.”
Most recently, when he was in the market for a new car, Kumar went immediately to ALEC. With an attractive rate from ALEC and the valuable information Kumar learned from ALEC’s Auto Buying Tips Webinar, he was soon behind the wheel of a new Lexus.
“I tell everyone that, instead of going to big banks, ALEC will be clear and up-front with you,” he said. “Everyone has a genuinely caring attitude, and I always trust that ALEC has my best interests at heart.”
That kind of confidence is what keeps people doing business with ALEC — and making them happy they did.
ALEC is proud of the broad range of services and the competitive rates it offers, of course. Its very purpose for being is to provide the best of everything for its members. But, in the end, the thing that makes ALEC proudest of all is its people, who make sure all of those services are delivered with compassion and professionalism. It’s those people, more than any other factor, who keep our members coming back.
David worked for Abbott at AP30 back in 2009 when, one day, an ALEC representative stopped by a department meeting to talk about the many benefits of an ALEC membership. Intrigued and curious, David decided to visit the AP30 Service Center one day to learn more. It was there that he first met Cindy Stanis, senior service center manager, and so began a very satisfying financial relationship.
“My wife and I were not members of a credit union, so we decided to give ALEC a shot,” David remembered. “Cindy was simply fantastic. She laid out everything ALEC had to offer.”
A few months later, when David was in the market for a new truck, his course was clear: He went directly to ALEC. “The credit really goes to Cindy,” he said. “Dealing with her was and always has been better than any bank I’ve ever dealt with. She was detailed and knowledgeable and took the time to answer all of my questions. From start to finish, Cindy took care of everything and made it so easy. Everything about the process: the research, the financing, vehicle advice — everything.”
David contacted Cindy to discuss a mortgage refinance opportunity in 2011, while he and his wife were living in Georgia. Back then, ALEC did not offer mortgages outside Illinois — it now does, in all 50 states — but David still turned to Cindy for trusted advice despite the distance. And again, Cindy came through. “She gave me valuable advice on our mortgage, even though ALEC couldn’t provide the loan.”
This year, David and his wife were in the market for another new vehicle. “I knew I was going to contact Cindy,” David said. Cindy helped David and his wife determine which car best suited their needs.
“We went over resale value, cost of ownership — new vs. used. And Cindy made great recommendations.” David thinks of Cindy’s sage advice every time he climbs into his new SUV.
Even though they live nowhere near Cindy or an ALEC branch, it was David’s experiences with Cindy that have kept him loyal to ALEC. “The difference between ALEC and any of the five other banks I’ve dealt with is that, even when Cindy is on vacation, she directs me to her colleagues, who deliver the same level of service and knowledge that I’ve come to expect and appreciate from Cindy. Just how Cindy is as a professional and a person should be enough to bring people in. She has always offered insight and expertise, and I’ve always felt totally comfortable with my decisions.”
The relationship forged between David and Cindy is a great example of why members are so comfortable putting their problems and questions in ALEC’s hands. Cindy is typical of all of our counselors.
Compare services and rates, and you’ll choose ALEC. And people like Cindy will make you glad you did.
We may abbreviate or change the names in our member stories to protect our members' privacy.