by Shawn Marie Brummer, Communications & Media Specialist
Rod Braun grew up in the small town of Rosholt, South Dakota, in the far northeast corner of the state along with his two older sisters and younger brother. The farm they lived on was a family affair, raising grain and hogs, and Rod was driving tractors and trucks by the age of six. He says he always loved farming and has been fortunate to find two things he loves to do in life: farming, and helping people achieve their goals in the financial world.
He attended school with a class of 21 students, and was active in many areas, including football, basketball, drama, choir, and student government. He was also involved in 4-H club and was a reader at St. Johns Catholic Church. An introvert by nature, he credits one special high school English teacher with helping him overcome his shyness by encouraging him to participate in speech and to take the lead in several high school plays. “That push and encouragement helped me to overcome that, and to be able to get into sales and leadership roles down the road,” he shared.
However, from a very young age, his biggest influence was always his father. “If someone needed help, he was there to ensure they got what they needed,” he recalled. “He was always laughing and joking and genuinely cared about people. He worked hard and lived to help. He entrusted me with responsibility at a young age and it helped me become who I am today,” he added. Sadly, Rod lost his father when he was just 19 years old, but seeing his dad live his life for others always stayed with him.
After graduating from high school, Rod first attended college at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, and then transferred to Northern State University in Aberdeen, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree and double majors in Management and Marketing. During those years, he worked in sales at Radio Shack and farmed, and then began his career in finance.
He first worked with finance applications as a manager at Helzberg Diamonds in Sioux Falls and Omaha, which resulted in a few memorable experiences. Once, when he was in a management training seminar, he had to go up against a real-life actor in a role-playing exercise. Yes, Willie Ames (from the TV shows “Eight is Enough” and “Charles in Charge”) received a corrective action and was fired by Rod. Then, he actually sold one very large gold cross pendant to one of MC Hammer’s stage dancers. It seems MC was in town to do a concert and brought his entourage to the mall. The cross was worn that very night on a gold chain during the performance. Rod was a bit of a fan at the time, enjoyed dancing, and even owned MC Hammer style pants.
His next job was working as a finance manager for an automotive dealership. He realized that he especially enjoyed the part of helping people obtain financing, and decided he wanted to look for a career in that area.
He began proactively seeking a position as a loan officer with a financial institution. In addition to wanting to help people with their overall finances, he was looking for a job with a “family friendly” environment. It was 2003, and he was now raising two young sons. When he came across a position as Director of Sales at Citizens Community Credit Union (Devils Lake, ND), he applied and was hired to oversee both sales and marketing.
Between 2003 and 2018, Rod held various positions at Citizens Community CU, including Director of Sales, VP of Sales and Service, and VP of Member Services and Product Development. When Citizens merged into First Community Credit Union (FCCU) in 2018, he became the Lake Region Retail Manager, the title he holds today.
Rod says the new opportunity with FCCU has been incredible. Among his wide area of responsibilities, he is tasked with overseeing the retail banking and service in the Lake Region which consists of Devils Lake, Lakota, St John, Bisbee, and Fort Totten. To further enhance his career, Rod has earned his credit insurance license as well as his NMLS license. A large part of his job consists of coaching and helping the associates grow and serve members with the high standards of service that FCCU holds.
“I am very fortunate that the staff that I work with are driven to take care of our members, so they make this part of my job easy,” he remarked. “I am also fortunate in being able to work for two institutions without ever leaving one. The culture of FCCU is all about helping and growing while keeping member service as the key element. Being part of the team and seeing the example lived by FCCU employees is incredible and has helped me grow as a person and a leader.”
He continues, “The philosophy of ‘people helping people’ never gets old. I truly enjoy helping people, and that is what we do – day in and day out. The culture of FCCU is entirely oriented to that philosophy, and when you work for an organization that lives it both with members and each other within the organization, it makes working in the industry incredible. We are the largest credit union in the state, but we still have the service mentality of being small and personable,” he concluded.
Besides working and mentoring coworkers at his credit union, Rod is involved in the greater community as well. He served on the board of the North Central Chapter for 17 years until very recently. He currently serves on the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Finance Committee as secretary; has served on the After School Child Care Board in Devils Lake for several years, was a member of the hiring committee for teachers at the local schools, served on the Cando Area Chamber of Commerce Board, and was a founding member and board member of the Shooting Starz Wrestling Club.
In his personal life, Rod enjoys spending time with his two grown sons and his five-year-old grandson, watching the Steelers, Lakers, Penguins, and Pirates. He still enjoys playing basketball, though he says he doesn’t have the moves he had when he was 18! He loves riding his Victory and Yamaha motorcycles, and hanging out with his dog Tank, a Chihuahua/Daschund mix. Finally, Rod can often be found “behind the scenes” operating the scoreboards for football and basketball games at the North Star Public School in Cando.
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