At 30 he took over as CEO of State Employees' Credit Union in North Carolina. That was 1979. Come 2016 and he retired. SECU had grown to $33 billion - and it had 256 branches and 5800 employees.
That's the Jim Blaine story and here he sits for a marathon interview, the longest in this podcast's history.
It's worth the hour. Make time.
Blaine starts out by questioning the wave of mergers that is now rocking the world of credit unions. Why not just liquidate the institution and give every member $1000?
Keep listening and you realize he's not exactly for doing that. In fact he denounces the loss of a few hundred credit union charters yearly.
What he is actually doing is highlighting a reality that, typically, those mergers accomplish just about nothing. The resulting institution, a bit bigger, is in fact no more competitive.
Blaine also worries about the loss of local institutions, where nowadays in many credit unions all decisions - including the trivial - get made at corporate HQ.
Is there in fact a future for credit unions?
Maybe. Maybe not. Blaine highlights a strategy for keeping credit unions relevant. But he frets that many may not heed the message.
Are you listening?