In his own words: Great Basin CEO Dennis Flannigan
Name/title: Dennis Flannigan/President, Chief Executive Officer, Great Basin Federal Credit Union
Number of years in this job: 6
Years in this profession: 40
Education: Accounting degree from UNR College of Business
Last book read: “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal
Favorite flick: “Lincoln.” I am a history buff and ran a credit union back East in Washington D.C. I got into the Civil War, and that movie was just phenomenal.
What’s on your iPod: I have an iPad and an iPhone. I have a play list for contemporary rock, which is ’70s and ’80s stuff and some classical.
Spouse, kids or pets: My wife Mary and I have been married for 40 years. I have a daughter, Vanessa, 37, and a son, Keegan, 35.
Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Great Basin Federal Credit Union and your position.
Dennis Flannigan: Great Basin was created in 1951, within a month of me. It was originally the Nevada Bell Credit Union. About 12 years ago we converted to a community credit union, which means that anyone who lives, works or goes to school in Washoe County can join. We are basically the perfect bank — we are not for profit. I am chief executive officer. I took over just prior to the recession. I had been executive vice president for 12 years before that. Most of my background is in accounting, but I do a lot of strategic planning. I prefer the environment and the staffing and making sure we are ready for the future.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Flannigan: I graduated from UNR and was looking for a job. My sister-in-law was working at a savings and loan downtown and I got on in the accounting department. After 15 years of that I became vice president of a credit union and then took a CEO job at a credit union back East. I moved back to Reno 18 years ago.
NNBW: What’s the most important thing you have learned that helps you be successful in your role as president of Great Basin?
Flannigan: It’s about the people. The people you work with bring the passion, the integrity and the motivation. When you have the right people, you can drive the bus anywhere.
NNBW: What’s new at Great Basin Federal Credit Union?
Flannigan: We are very electronically oriented — we have to be to compete. To understand what’s changed you have to understand what happened over the last six years. We lost half a dozen credit unions, and larger credit unions came in, so we ended up with larger competitors. The other part of it is that 13 or 14 banks in the state of Nevada are no longer with us. This past year we started business lending and we are an SBA-approved lender. This past six months we did $1.6 million worth of business loans, which is really exciting for us.
NNBW: How did the effects of the recession impact Great Basin Federal Credit Union?
Flannigan: Consumer confidence simply isn’t there, so everyone is competing viciously for automobile loans, mostly refinances and refinance of real estate. But real estate is what was the problem. What saved us is that we were not into real estate to the degree that everyone else was; we only had like 20 percent, so when it went real bad everyone else got hit harder than us. Predominately we are a consumer lender. We had a lot of cars early on that we had to take back, but we were able to recover much quicker and we have been profitable for the past four years now. We have recovered 100 percent and are as strong as we were six years ago.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Flannigan: I was a bagger at the Mayfair market on Virginia Street.
NNBW: What’s your absolute dream job?
Flannigan: I have got it right here. I work with great people, and I work for the right reasons. Everything I have prepared myself for is to be the president of a small financial institution focusing on our community.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter the banking profession?
Flannigan: Look for a credit union, and look for the right reasons to work. If you passion is to make a lot of money, you don’t really want to come to a credit union.
NNBW: How do you like spend your time away from work?
Flannigan: I am a runner, and exercise regularly. I also am a gardener. I have been involved with Moms on the Run since its inception and am their race director, so I work with a lot of great people locally.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Flannigan: A baseball player. I was going to play for the Giants, and they needed me sometimes.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Flannigan: Probably not. I look at what I want to finish doing here, preparing this credit union for the future and facilitating the takeover by all these young people. They will be ready in a few years.
NNBW: What’s the last concert or sporting event you attended?
Flannigan: The Moody Blues.
NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Flannigan: In my older age I have learned to enjoy cruising. I have done the inside passage a few times and like getting out and away from the tourist spots. I also have been to Alaska a couple of times and like those special areas that are still kind of untouched.
NNBW: If you could hang on to just one memory for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Flannigan: Being close to my grandkids and being a part of their lives.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?
Flannigan: It is still small town. I took a job back East, and it was a great opportunity. I learned things and saw things and got exposed to a sense of history and things I would have never done, but my wife and I one day looked at each other and said, “We have got to go back home.” When we left, neither one of us had a job prospect. I appreciate northern Nevada and being in a small town.
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