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Bob Eike retires from Century after more than three decades as president and CEO

January 9th, 2024

Compassionate. Honest. Genuine. Loyal. Thrifty. Funny. Dedicated.

An out-of-the-box thinker. A great team leader and boss.

Cards super fan. Family man. A faithful and very caring human being.

These are all ways that current and former employees describe Bob Eike, who retired from Century Credit Union on December 28, 2023, after 33 years as president and CEO, the longest of any who’ve held the position at Century.

Ask Bob to describe himself in three words and he has no answer. No surprise. He’s not one for the limelight. He has diligently gone about his daily business of making the credit union financially safe and sound, as well as providing value to members through high-quality financial products and services and great rates.

 “I can’t expect staff to offer products I wouldn’t have myself,” Bob says.

Onward and upward

Under his direction, the credit union has added many products, services and programs to help members with their personal finances, including a unique Family Fund program that provides free financial grants to members in dire straits.

“He was always looking to improve the services we already had,” says Kathy Betz, who retired from the credit union in 2021 after 44 years of employment. “Out of the clear blue sky he would say, ‘Let’s throw our checking account program in the air, stir it up and see how it lands and how it could be better.’ Members were always his first priority.”

Adds Anne Hensiek, a current employee: “Bob has always been so dedicated to the credit union. He had a vision for it and worked tirelessly to make it happen!”

Bob led by example and did whatever it took to get the job done. No type of work was beneath him. He has fixed toilets at the credit union, cleaned gutters… you name it.

Employees were well taken care of during his tenure. “He has been very generous to staff, especially paying for full-timers’ health insurance all these years.” says Gina Bansbach, a 25-year employee who oversees branch operations and human resources in her vice president duties. “That is huge and extremely appreciated.”

Bob’s approach with staff, in his words: “Be good to your employees and they will work to achieve our goals. We have always tried to keep things enjoyable. The more fun, the better, because it creates a good work atmosphere. Telling them that they’re doing a good job and giving ‘member service awards’ for going above and beyond are important things to do.”

How his credit union career began

If it weren’t for the job placement office at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Bob would have likely never ended up in the credit union industry, much less leading a tiny credit union nine years later and helping it grow and thrive over the next three decades.

Fresh out of college with a bachelor’s degree in business and a major in accounting, Bob landed a job as an auditor with the Missouri Credit Union League. Prior to that, he washed cars at Waterway for four years.

The auditing job led to a promotion with Missouri League Corporate Credit Union as accounting manager, then a return to the state credit union trade association, this time as a field consultant to 125 various-sized credit unions in St. Louis and northeast Missouri.

“I helped them with financial analysis, planning sessions, accounting, mergers, charters, and more,” Bob notes.

One of the credit unions he provided consulting to was NALCO, now Century. When the previous president retired and his successor didn’t pan out, Bob was asked by the credit union’s board chairman if he was interested in the job.

“Leaving the Missouri League was the most difficult, career-related decision I had to make,” Bob says. “I really enjoyed working there. Great group of people.”

Bob accepted the challenge of taking on a troubled credit union head-on in 1990 and was able to resolve six major areas of concern with state regulators. At the time, the credit union had just $6 million in assets, 4,000 members and 6.00 percent capital.

“He came in and turned this credit union around with great ideas,” Gina notes. “He has always run the credit union with members’ and staffs’ best interest at heart. He has treated all folks the way he would like to be treated.”

Under Bob’s guidance and leadership, Century has grown to $145.5 million in assets and more than 9,000 members today, and it’s become one of the financially strongest credit unions in the country and a rate leader in St. Louis. S&P Global Market Research ranked Century as the 17th best-performing credit union in the entire country in 2022, and BauerFinancial has given Century a 5-star “Superior” rating every quarter since December 1994.

“The thriving state of our credit union today is a testament to the wisdom, dedication, and leadership that Bob has infused into every aspect of our operations,” says Joshua Wallace, who has worked with him the past 15 years and is the new president and CEO of Century. “His visionary approach has driven us toward continual growth and success.”

Others outside of the credit union have also noticed Bob’s contributions to the success of Century. “Bob has always operated the credit union to benefit the members,” says Tim Loveless, a field consultant with the Cornerstone Credit Union League who has worked with Bob since 1997. “I most admire Bob’s passion for his credit union philosophy. It’s never wavered.”

Countless credit unions were helped by Bob during his early years with the Missouri League, and that continued even while working at Century. “While I can’t put a number on it, I know Bob has always been there, willing to help a small credit union needing guidance and more importantly his mentorship,” Tim notes. “I’ve personally learned a lot from him.”

Reflecting on his time with Century

The best part of being president at Century, Bob says, is the pride he has seen develop at the credit union – pride that employee have in working for a place that truly cares about them and other people, and pride that members have in doing business with a place that treats them right and does many good things in the community.

The worst part? “Seeing some members struggle because of financial issues the credit union can’t help them with,” Bob says.

When asked what he has enjoyed the most about his long career with Century, he says: “Serving the average blue-collar member to meet their goals. I had a member come in recently and said she was retiring. I apparently approved a home loan for her when no one else would. She said she is comfortably retiring because of the credit union. I know three cases of members who continue to live in their homes when they were being foreclosed on by other banks. The stories are too many to mention.”

The next chapter in life

Spending time with his grandkids as they grow up, fishing more and playing more golf, volunteering more time with DuoDogs and other church-related activities, and visiting all 30 major league baseball ballparks are all on his list of what he plans to do in his retirement years.

We wish him all the best and will miss him and the support dogs he has helped raise, train and brought into the office over the years.

“It was an honor to work for him,” says Kathy, a comment that many other employees could easily echo. “Bob is one the most special people I know. Staff and members always liked and respected Bob. He’s just a great guy.”