Over the past 71 years, VyStar Credit Union, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, has earned recognition as a reliable brand for borrowers. It has “big plans for 2023” and will “continue to work to be the credit union of the Southeast,” stated CEO Brian Wolfburg.
“The credit union continues to reach new heights by improving the places we call home and providing a superior banking experience to more people in more places,” Wolfburg said. “Those efforts are at the heart of our brand promise: Do Good. Bank Better. They would never be possible without [the members’] continued support.”
Wolfburg, a Buffalo, New York, native, stated that the credit union has “flourished more than imaginable and surpassed many of our wildest dreams. Still, our story is just beginning. We remain committed to serving the financial needs of our members by providing products and services that are high quality, dependable, and trustworthy.”
The Credit Union’s Origin Story
In April 2023, VyStar announced plans to merge with 121 Financial Credit Union to expand access to best-in-class products and services. However, none of that would be possible if VyStar’s 12 founding members hadn’t united to establish a safe space for United States military and civil service members to save and borrow money 71 years ago.
The Jax Navy Federal Credit Union opened at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville on April 29, 1952, with just $60. By 1996, it had achieved $1 billion in assets. In 2002 its name was changed to VyStar Credit Union as it transitioned to a state-chartered credit union.
Today, it’s the largest credit union headquartered in northeast Florida and the 13th largest in the United States by asset size. There are 69 locations in Florida and Georgia.
“As we’ve grown, what has not changed is our commitment to the brave men and women who serve our country,” said Brian Wolfburg. “We are proud to be able to celebrate our anniversary with them and look forward to continuing to support our members and the places we call home.”
The credit union currently serves over 875,000 members nationwide, with assets totaling more than $13.5 billion. It’s a major employer in the region with 2,000 staffers across the communities it serves. Membership is available to anyone who works or lives in 29 Georgia counties and the 49 neighboring central to north Florida counties. Past and present military members and their families worldwide are eligible for membership also.
“It is truly a testament to the power of teamwork and how those who are committed to making a difference will not let anything stand in their way,” said Wolfburg. “In many ways, it still guides our credit union today.
“The credit union is much more than dollars and cents. We’ve grown to become a full-service financial institution that offers savings and checking accounts, loans, credit cards, mortgages, auto and home insurance, financial planning and investments, and so much more,” Wolfburg added.
In 2018 the credit union relocated its headquarters to the VyStar Tower in downtown Jacksonville. However, it never strayed from its purpose of helping military families establish financial stability. “In the years since VyStar was founded, it has celebrated many milestones,” stated Wolfburg. “Some of these steps were large, and some were small. But most importantly, we took them together.”
The credit union’s recent initiatives include introducing the Everyday Heroes Mortgage Program, which provides unique offers to people in more than 200 professions, and its Military Heroes Mortgage Program, specifically for those who protect and serve the United States, veterans, and survising spouses. It also transformed its technological offerings by creating a new website and an online and mobile banking platform.
Over the next few years, the credit union plans to open up to 25 more branches throughout central and northern Florida and Georgia. Recently, in Florida, it opened a second branch in Tallahassee and one in Lake Mary.
CEO Brian Wolfburg: VyStar Is a Strong Community Leader
The credit union’s purpose is to do good, and its employees help it live up to that promise. As CEO of the credit union, Brian Wolfburg guides the company as it continues to make a positive difference in the communities where its members and employees live, work, and play.
He said the credit union is “working to do better in the future [and] remains grateful for members’ support.” In 2021, it contributed over $6.8 million to hundreds of nonprofit organizations focused on improving local communities.
“VyStar also extended its impact beyond monetary donations through our employee volunteerism, board participation, marketing, advertising, and mentoring,” stated the CEO. “As we continue to grow in the years ahead, so will our efforts to support others.”
In 2022, Hurricane Ian, a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane, was the deadliest storm to hit Florida since 1935, and the credit union got to work. “Our employees came together to support residents and communities that were impacted by Hurricane Ian,” Brian Wolfburg explained. “That included employees from Jacksonville to Orlando pitching in to support debris cleanup.” The credit union also set up a mobile branch, so Tampa Postal Federal Credit Union members in the Fort Myers area could access their accounts. In addition, it donated $25,000 to the Florida Disaster Fund.
In November 2022, the credit union hosted its Good Is Everywhere celebration. Wolfburg said the employees volunteered and donated to groups like Habitat for Humanity and The Arc Jacksonville. “It was wonderful to work alongside our partners to bring this benefit to members and the community.”
The event was a real treat since the public was able to enjoy free days at local attractions, including the Museum of Science & History and the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. It also sponsored the 2023 Jax River Jams Concert Series, a free, four-week concert series showcasing national headliners along with regional and local opening acts.
Wolfburg said VyStar “promises to continue growing and innovating to prove we are different than other financial institutions.” So whether someone’s looking for a place to begin saving or seeking help financing a home, VyStar is there to help. The credit union helps empower members with the financial knowledge necessary to set themselves up to successfully achieve their financial and life goals.