The 2015 Executive Excellence Awards: Tom Berquist


Tom Berquist

Senior Vice President of Marketing and Cooperative Affairs, BECU

When the banking crisis of 2008 hit, BECU found it had already laid the groundwork for its membership growth. As Tom Berquist notes, his marketing department had been advertising for a couple of years. When consumers began seeking alternatives to big banks, he says, “We were fortunate to have some brand awareness.”

The first challenge was to get people to understand that with new regulatory changes, consumers didn’t have to be Boeing employees to join BECU. Berquist led the drive to make clear the long-term track record of the credit union. “We’re not bashing banks,” he notes, “but pointing out that we are not for profit and member owned, so we behave a little differently.”

The approach proved successful. BECU has developed as a strong independent brand, doubling its membership since 2006 to 875,000. In his 14 years there, Berquist has helped promote BECU from a marginal entity in the marketplace to a household name. During the recession, he won business by launching a campaign to inspire consumer optimism as well as a sense of hope and confidence. Berquist takes an active part in local initiatives such as Restore the Duwamish, replacing invasive plants with native ones along Seattle’s main riverbank. He also is a regular speaker on ethics in the workplace through Seattle University, extending his employee training work at BECU. Ethics, he believes, “play a key part in our brand, of who we are.” 

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