October 12, 2023 - 6:06 pm
Steele Hendrix has come a long way since his days of growing up in Lund, Nev., where his mom was the town postmaster, his father a cattle rancher and his graduating class had 13 students.
“I am definitely a true Nevadan,” he said with a grin.
Earlier this month it was announced that he’d be taking over the helm of the Boulder Dam Credit Union as its new president and CEO. He replaced Eric Estes, who retired at the end of September after 30 years.
Hendrix, whose given name is actually Steele, started his banking career working as a runner for Cumorah Credit Union, while attending University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He worked for them from 1994 to 2008 before they merged with Credit Union 1. He worked for them for the next eight years doing marketing and business development strategic planning. For the past six years he served as executive vice president of BDCU.
Before coming to the BDCU, Hendrix said he and Estes had known one another for more than 20 years, with the two working closely with elected officials to help promote credit union interests in the state.
“So that’s what brought us together and also the credit union industry works hand in hand together on a lot of things,” he said. “We (credit unions) are not competitors but cooperate with one another. So, over time knowing Eric, he was preparing for retirement and in doing so prepared this organization for replacement of key positions. He reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in coming to BDCU.
“I was very excited and had no hesitation in saying yes when he asked if I wanted to come here. Boulder Dam Credit Union is a model within the industry. We focus intensely on the people of Boulder City. By doing that we’re able to keep the financial model operating in a way that it should as a credit union. Great people. Great place. Great model.”
The credit union has been a pillar of the community for decades as that loyalty between it and its members has been a two-way street. That includes anything from sponsoring a T-ball team to large donations and everything in between. It’s something that has not been lost on Hendrix.
“We are a hub of financial activity here in town,” he said. “For many, we’re part of their daily or weekly routine. You also see kids selling cookies on our front porch for fundraisers. Anyone who comes through the door to ask for a sports sponsorship or a community event like Art in the Park, we stand up to make sure we’re donating and helping. One of our core values is community focus. We want to make sure we’re doing whatever it is we can to help wherever we can within the community.”
In an interview with Estes earlier this year, he talked about filling big shoes following the death of longtime BDCU president Bill Ferrence. So, for Hendrix, he’s filling the big shoes of the one who had big shoes to fill. But for Hendrix, who is married with four children, he doesn’t feel additional pressure as a result of those who wore the shoes prior to him.
“I knew Bill, as well as his thoughts of how a credit union should operate,” he said. “And knowing Eric for 25 years, I know his thoughts as well. I definitely consider it more of an honor than any kind of a burden in any way in filling those shoes.”
He added that it has helped the fact he’s been at the credit union for six years and not new to BDCU.
While the president is the face of the credit union, he said it’s their board members, many who have served behind the scenes for years, are the ones who help maintain consistency and the core values of the institution.
When Estes began serious discussion about retaining, and despite his tenure, Hendrix knew he could not rest on his laurels in terms of an automatic promotion. The board did its due diligence with an executive search process. When the position was made official, he said that while there is a comfort level in being the vice president, he said there was no doubt in his mind that he’d be throwing his hat into the ring.
“No, no hesitancy at all,” he said, laughing. “Everyone has been wonderful. A lot of people have come up to congratulate me. That’s meant a lot. There’s been no negative comments in terms of the transition. I can credit that to Bill and Eric for laying a great foundation for me. The members know and trust us and we will continue that level of trust moving forward.”