Employee loyalty shown in western Wisconsin

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

By Rachel Clepper

Walking into a room at a Wisconsin Credit Union League meeting Lori Ausman was nervous.

Mark Willer discusses community outreach at the Altoona WESTconsin Credit Union bank. ©2018 Rachel Clepper

This was Ausman’s first Wisconsin Credit Union League meeting. She knew no one. Looking around, Ausman tried to decide where to sit for the meeting.

Mark Willer came up to Ausman and said, “Let me help you.” Ausman was surprised someone who did not work for her organization, and who had never met her before, would be so helpful to her. Ausman says it was only fitting that it was the moment she became a “Mark Willer fan.”

Mark Willer is the current chief lending officer at WESTconsin Credit Union. In this position, he is in charge of anything lending-related at the organization, as well as 111 employees who report directly to, or through, him. Although Willer works at the Menomonie office, he lives in Altoona, and finds community in the whole of the Greater Chippewa Valley area by volunteering and participating in many different organizations, such as a classroom teacher for junior achievement and as a member of the United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley, Willer said.

Ausman has been working at WESTconsin for 23 years. Although Ausman never believed she would be working in the financial industry, she joined because of the organization’s mission to help people succeed. Willer is someone who acts upon that value and constantly seeks out ways to help people flourish, Ausman said.

“We all have core values and interests,” Ausman said. “If you can find a career that helps you share that passion, you’ll stick with it.”

Willer has found that working for credit unions matches his core value of helping others. Willer’s first full-time position was as a bank teller at Royal Credit Union, and he has since then stayed working in the credit union field except for a short time working in a bank setting for less than a year, Willer said.

Willer moved through many different positions at RCU throughout his employment in the organization. He moved from the accounting department to the national director of customer support and many other positions. The structure of credit unions helps employees engage in the community in order to enhance employee loyalty naturally, Willer said.

“I would say employee loyalty is a result of employee engagement,” Willer said. “You can’t hire somebody, give him or her a paycheck, and expect them to be a loyal employee. People want to work for a cause.”

In Willer’s position at WESTconsin, he has been able to continue to work toward providing employees the opportunities to work with, and in, the community. People want to know that the organization they work for is meaningful to them and their community. Even as accountants balancing check clearings, they want to contribute to a great experience, Willer said.

WESTconsin Credit Union currently runs an educational program where high school students are in charge of small credit union groups that help to teach students saving and financial skills. This program costs the credit union $10,000 every year because the organization believes this is an investment in their community. This is just one example that Willer gave in order to show his support for WESTconsin Credit Union and credit unions as a whole.

Willer has volunteered with United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley on the board of directors. Jan Porath, the executive director of the organization, says Willer has contributed time and ability to the United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley.

“He has a strong moral compass and distinctive qualities that you would want in a leader,” Porath said. “He follows through on his promises and commitments and provides a level head and thoughtful pragmatism.”

The importance of relationships and putting the organization’s overall needs above your own is a characteristic that University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professor Martha Fay has noticed Willer enact, specifically in a conversation with a past student, Fay said. Fay continues to bring Willer into her classroom as a guest speaker because of his strong character.

“I’ve had so many great relationships over the years, regardless of whether people work at a bank or a business,” Willer said. “You create lifelong relationships that really bring value to your career because you can pick up your phone and call someone. In the end, it is really about relationships.”

Porath, Fay, and Ausman agree that Willer consistently puts others and his organization before himself in order to serve the community.

“He really wants to help people,” Ausman said.