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SeaComm plans to consolidate Massena operations, build new Malone branch

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MASSENA - SeaComm Federal Credit Union officials announced Wednesday that they plan to close their 79 Main St., Massena, location and a Call Center on Andrews Street and consolidate those operations with an expanded presence at 30 Stearns St. by August 2015.

They also plan to build a new branch in Malone, replacing one that’s currently operated under a lease agreement in the Price Chopper Plaza, according to President and CEO Scott A. Wilson.

The $5.1 million Massena consolidation and expansion will begin in early 2014 and be completed by mid-2015, according to Mr. Wilson, who said all employees working at Massena’s 79 Main St. location will transfer to the Stearns Street site.

“In fact, we have projected an additional 27 positions being added in the next 10 years. So, members will enjoy the same services they have grown accustomed to over the years. But we need the space to do that,” he said.

The merging of the Call Center and closing of the downtown branch will not take place until construction has been completed. They have selected P.W. Campbell of Pittsburgh, Pa. as their building design firm.

“Our plans are to maintain the operations through the entire construction phase. It will be completed by August 2015,” he said.

The ATM located at 79 Main St. will be available through the middle of 2015.

“It is too early to decide if we will be relocating one to an alternate location. However, that is being considered. We’re looking at all kinds of different options. No decision has been made at this point,” Mr. Wilson said.

The Stearns Street location will receive an additional 15,870 square feet of space to accommodate the merger with the 79 Main St. branch, Call Center and additional staff necessary to support the expanded service offerings and regulatory requirements.

Mr. Wilson said they plan to build a two-story addition on the back of the current building and a second floor addition over the existing branch. That, he said, would provide a full two-story building all the way around. The move will also position them to add a third floor as needed as they continue to grow.

As part of the project, they plan to add two drive-thru lanes as well as concierge and self-serve kiosks and expanded employee parking. All member-related services will be moved, and the expansion will allow them to plan for growth of adequate office and conference space.

Mr. Wilson said the credit union’s Board of Directors opted to move forward because of a trend that saw fewer transactions through their tellers. Many customers are now opting to take advantage of electronic services such as direct deposit, the credit union’s “NetTeller” and mobile apps that allow them to take care of some of their banking needs on their phone, he said. It comes at a time when the credit union has seen a 20 percent growth since 2007.

“Over the last several years the Board of Directors, through the strategic planning process, talked about changes in business. The board agreed to consolidate the branches at 79 Main St. and 30 Stearns St.,” he said.

“Our membership has grown more than 20 percent over the past six years. However, the number of transactions at our teller line has decreased,” Mr. Wilson said. “Due mainly to technology and members using direct deposit or other electronic channels offered, such as NetTeller, mobile app, ATMs and soon to be added Mobile Deposit Capture, the merging of our Massena locations will allow us to be more efficient, whereby we can put those resources back into additional products and services, at no cost to the membership.”

There was also the need for expansion, according to the credit union president and CEO, who said some services were offered at 79 Main St., while others were offered at 30 Stearns St. For instance, there is no mortgage representative at the downtown location. The expansion will allow them to increase staffing levels over the next 10 years in areas such as Call Center operations, accounting, card services and member business lending.

“The fact is we have run out of space. Some of the staff is in less than what we would consider optimal space, and we want to improve upon it,” Mr. Wilson said.

“Today, we do not have adequate office space necessary to support future initiatives,” he said. “The benefits of this option will also enable all back office operations to be in one main location, assisting us with an increase in communications and decreased travel time between buildings, which will allow us to grow internal staff more efficiently along with membership growth. We’re trying to bring everything forward. Having it all in one location will be more efficient.”

The credit union had purchased the downtown building from Heritage Homes in 1999, and they opened in 2000. It had formerly been used as an extension for the now-closed Mater Dei College.

“It will be an excellent location for most any type of business. Therefore, we will list it with a realtor who has experience in commercial properties. The same for our 35 Andrews St. location, which currently accommodates our Call Center operations,” Mr. Wilson said.

He said that, although they are consolidating operations on Stearns Street, SeaComm will continue to support downtown revitalization.

“It is important to know that we are committed to the revitalization of downtown Massena and will continue to support the mission and on-going efforts of the chamber of commerce and its related activities. SeaComm isn’t about buildings; it’s about people,” he said.

Continued project updates will be available on SeaComm’s website, Facebook page and Twitter, and Mr. Wilson said he will be available from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday and 11 a.m. to noon Sept. 20 at 79 Main St. to talk with customers about the plans.

“It’s important to let community members know what’s going on now so they can ask questions. Members can come in and talk with me,” he said.

SeaComm also plans to build a new branch in Malone. They finalized the property purchase of 1.4 acres of land in May. It is located on Route 11, adjacent to Mo’s Pub and Grill, and in front of The Holiday Inn Express. The current branch, which is operated under a lease agreement through mid-2016, is located in the Price Chopper Plaza.

SeaComm plans to construct a 3,000-square-foot building at their new site. They plan to begin construction in early 2015 with an expected completion date of June 2016.

“This arrangement has worked for a long period of time. However, owning our own location adds long-term value to the organization. This new venue will give us additional visibility in a high traffic location in an ever-expanding retail area,” Mr. Wilson said.

Malone Branch Manager Rick Maloney will be part of the overall planning of the new location.

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