Member Story: Garrett Kopp of Birch Boys
Talk about awkward:
When Garrett Kopp met Adirondack Regional Federal Credit Union CEO Russ Cronin a few years back, somebody asked if he was a member.
Well, no, actually, Garrett confessed: After launching his business, Birch Boys, he found the credit union’s electronic banking was missing a few features he needed. So he wound up with a competitor. (Which stung a little bit, Garrett added: He grew up in Tupper Lake, and as far as he was concerned, “going to the bank” meant Adirondack Regional FCU.)
“We’ll fix that,” Russ promised.
Within just a couple of months, the credit union offered the QuickBooks integration Garrett needed to keep his business rolling. So Garrett switched back to the credit union. And today, he says, “I wouldn’t even consider going anywhere else.”
After all, he says, where else can you approach the head of the bank with a special request—and have it taken care of?
“It’s really nice being able to know the people that I bank with,” says Garrett, whose company sells organic chaga teas, tinctures and extracts. (Chaga is a mushroom that grows on birch trees. All of Birch Boys’ chaga is harvested here in the Adirondacks.)
Garrett started the company while he was a student at Clarkson University—where, he says, he found Adirondack Regional FCU’s Potsdam branch especially convenient. Since then, Birch Boys has grown in Tupper Lake, not only recently notching its first profitable year but also moving into a new facility.
Even though Birch Boys had been in business for years and had successfully raised money from outside investors, Garrett says he found the concept of bank financing a bit of a black box. So when he was exploring options for moving into a new space, he sought counsel from the credit union.
“I was curious, from the bank’s perspective, whether my business looked healthy enough to be eligible for financing,” he says. “I had absolutely no idea—and I was surprised to learn that we were.”
Ultimately, Birch Boys' board decided to lease the new space, rather than purchase it. But he's grateful to have a partnership with a financial institution he knows he can trust as he becomes a more seasoned executive. “I learned so much through that process,” he says.
“The credit union is an open door,” he says. “You can walk in and talk to someone, or call and a teller will help. The customer support is the biggest reason to stay, and the reason I’ll never leave.”