Birmingham-based America’s First Federal Credit Union has added nearly 40 jobs of the 60 it announced in last year’s Birmingham Business Alliance New and Expanding Industry List.
In addition to adding jobs, the company has opened a four-story expansion to its headquarters in downtown Birmingham.
The expansion is a 49,000-square-foot annex, opened in mid-November. The first floor of the new annex contains an America’s First retail branch. The remaining three floors will be used for office space, said Bill Connor, America’s First Federal Credit Union president and CEO.
Connor said he anticipates when the annex is full there will be in excess of 100 additional jobs total. Currently, 325 employees work for the company across 14 branches in Birmingham.
In addition to the annex, the company also added a parking deck, and the two buildings are connected by a skybridge and an atrium. In total, the expansion cost close to $23 million, Connor said.
“We are pleased with it,” he said. “We were busting at the seams in the old building for a couple of years.”
Job additions will continue in 2019, particularly call center support positions. The company will also expand its small business service area and will expand service hours outside of the current 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. timeframe, mostly through Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs), where customers can talk to a live teller on the screen.
“Our members like to talk to real people,” Connor said. “Unlike some other financial institutions that are driving people more towards electronics and closing branches, having our branches is an important part of our delivery, and we plan to open new branches in the future. A key part of our delivery is our face-to-face contact with our members.”
While revenue matters, it’s not the driving force for everything America’s First does, Connor said.
“Our success is driven by our member satisfaction,” he said. “We are more about making sure we are providing the right service at the best value to our members. Our members are extremely satisfied with the products they get from us.”
America’s First’s expansion is a win for Birmingham, said Jeff Traywick, Vice President of Economic Development at the Birmingham Business Alliance.
“The growth of consumer-focused businesses like America’s First Federal Credit Union is a good indication of Birmingham’s growth in jobs and investment,” Traywick said. “With 2018 looking to be another record-setting year for Birmingham and strong project activity among new and expanding businesses, we anticipate continued growth and stability for our region.”