On November 13, 2013, the Maryland Heights Chamber of Commerce honored Pat Pettey, of Electro Savings Credit Union (ESCU), with the “Business Outreach Professional of the Year” award. It was presented during the chamber’s monthly meeting.
Pat was recognized for her “Ask the Experts” education series and her work with the Veterans Business Resource Center, which includes educational workshops and individual guidance for returning veterans who want to start their own businesses. Her efforts provide much-needed assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Seminar topics include business financing, business structuring, business decisions, business tools, Quickbooks, how to write a business plan and many more. Regular seminars, such as “Credit Report & Your Score” and “Budgeting” play an important part in educating ESCU’s business community.
At the Veterans Business Resource Center, she mentored military personnel, who have returned from service to the world of business or who have family members with businesses already who need assistance. The center also hosts seminars from various business leaders in the area, including Pettey, who share their experiences or assist participants in developing business plans.
“Referring a veteran to another expert in the field can assist them in their endeavors,” says Pettey. “The goal is to make their transition to civilian life much easier. With my various contact sources, this has been successful. Businesses helping businesses and veterans is what we are about!”
How did Pettey get where she is today? Before ESCU, she worked as a corporate controller for private industries—including manufacturing, architect and engineering, real estate development and management/construction firms—for 20 years. Her responsibilities in this position included accountability for multiple company operations, obtaining financing for operating lines, equipment, commercial buildings and company fleet vehicles.
In 1998, she took a position as a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan officer and business developer for the Economic Development Corporation in Jefferson County. She remembered that many people approached her with questions about their small business—or even how to start a business.
“These entrepreneurs needed help, and they didn’t know where to turn,” recalls Pettey. “Thus, I began to conduct seminars at local libraries and colleges during evenings and Saturday mornings. I also asked SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and other professionals to come in and share their expertise.”
Sadly, Pettey’s helpful small business sessions came to a screeching halt when she accepted a role at a local bank. For the next eight years, she was not allowed to teach or coordinate these seminars.
But then she found ESCU in June 2010. After much research, she joined ESCU and began to set up the business services department and formulated ways to better serve the needs of business members, such as creating PowerPoints on common business topics. Of course, she also collaborated with her trusted business contacts to present free seminars to members, and even the general public. These seminars included subject matter important to the business world.
Pettey explained that this approach builds stronger and lasting relationships. Many small business owners have sat down and discussed in more detail their business and business operations because of this service.
“This is why I love Electro and credit unions; we can make a difference!” says Pettey. “I am constantly developing new ways to bring more and more information to new and existing business owners.
Caption: Pat Pettey is pictured with State Rep. Mary Nichols (D) District 72.