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Omaha Magazine

Steve Swanstrom: President and CEO, Centris Federal Credit Union

Feb 09, 2023 10:16AM ● By Centris Federal Credit Union
It’s amazing what $7 and a shared vision can do. 

In 1934, Pearl Scheid became the first person to sign the Omaha Telephone Employees Federal Credit Union charter by contributing $7 to the fund pool. Only $49 was needed to charter a credit union at the time. 

From 1934 to 2019, Pearl’s $7 grew to $750 million. During the next three years, that $750 million blossomed to $1.25 billion – an increase the current leadership is proud to see. “We’re all pulling in the same direction, and it’s evidence of what we can do when we work together,” said Centris Federal Credit Union President and CEO Steve Swanstrom. (The organization changed its name to Centris in 2000 to reflect its expanded mission.)

A fourth-generation Nebraskan who still plays competitive tennis, Swanstrom got his start in the industry early, making customer survey calls as a summer intern at a bank in Sioux City, Iowa. When the 1990 recession and Gulf War thwarted his plans to become a bank examiner with the FDIC, Swanstrom enrolled in Creighton University’s MBA Program before working in Commercial Federal Bank’s Management Trainee Program.

Commercial Federal sold to Bank of the West in 2005. Swanstrom then worked for several banks before rejoining a mentor at Centris in 2009. “I didn’t know much about credit unions at the time,” Swanstrom said. “The more I investigated and the more I learned, the more I liked the cooperative ownership structure that puts everyone involved within and with the credit union on the same page.”

He describes the Centris experience as a consultative, customized approach to banking with an emphasis on services designed to save members time and money. After being named president and CEO in 2013, Swanstrom devoted the next seven years to preparing the organization for future success. He updated its 30-year-old financial platform with an $8 million investment in new technology and hired banking industry veteran Kevin Svec to grow its business 
banking portfolio.

The most visual aspect of the organization’s investment in the future is its $30 million headquarters at 132nd and Pacific. Five years in the making, the design reflects the corporate culture of collaboration. Floor to ceiling windows provide employees with natural light and views of the surrounding Sterling Ridge development. The fourth-floor company cafeteria is right next to the board room, and its 27 conference rooms are named after neighborhoods in the 15 Nebraska and Iowa communities it serves. 

The technology-rich Centris Community Room, located on the first floor, is available for public meetings and personal events. One of its walls is covered with a graphic that showcases the organization’s commitment to community. Each year, Centris donates more than $100,000 to organizations in the communities it serves, and employees volunteer more than 2,600 hours of company time for community service.

As the organization looks ahead, Swanstrom remains focused on continued growth and member success. “Our team is ready for the next 30 years,” he said.

Centris Federal Credit Union 
13120 Pierce Street
Omaha, NE 68144
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