One of Whatcom County's largest financial institutions is making preparations for a leadership change.
Wayne Langei of Whatcom Educational Credit Union is planning to retire after 41 years as CEO. At the credit union's annual meeting on Thursday, Jan. 23, the board announced it plans to name a new CEO in August, with Langei staying on as a consultant from that point until January 2015.
After working with outside consultant O'Rourke and Associates, the board has narrowed its choices to three internal CEO candidates: Jeff Dykstra, Jennifer Kutcher and Robert Langei, all executive vice presidents for WECU. All three candidates are going through a training process designed by the consultant.
Wayne Langei will not be involved in the selection process, which includes his son Robert as one of the candidates.
"The board's biggest job is to pick and manage the new CEO," said Wayne Langei, noting that the board already has spent many hours evaluating the candidates. "I think all three are ready to serve as CEO. One of the things I'm so proud of is that all three work so well together. I think WECU is fortunate to have that."
The credit union has undergone phenomenal growth under Langei's tenure. When he was hired as CEO in 1973, it was known as Bellingham Teacher's Credit Union, had three employees and $1 million in assets. Today WECU has more than 300 employees and as of September had $961.7 million in assets.
With more than 71,700 members and 11 branches in Whatcom County, WECU is this area's largest nonprofit financial institution.
Langei, 67, said WECU has had a CEO succession plan in place for about 10 years. With a chuckle he said it was probably about time to get it rolling.
Looking back, he's thrilled to have been in this position for more than 40 years.
"I never dreamed it would be this successful," he said.