Best of Business top vote-getter: Kemba Financial Credit Union

Virginia Brown
The Kemba team

Prior to Covid-19, when Mark Decello, the CEO of Kemba Credit Union, visited branches and shook dozens of hands, he would wash his hands immediately after. “It became a joke in the branches,” he says. “I’m just a little OCD, so elbow bumping is a blessing to me.”

Decello has been with Kemba for 11 years, and as CEO for the last year and a half. “The one thing I’ve learned is the weight of making decisions that impact 265 associates and 115,000 members—and the gravity of that,” he says.

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“Kemba was founded during the Great Depression, and then and now there was a need for reliable and inclusive financial services,” Decello says. “The pandemic has renewed our belief that the credit union movement is critical in the communities we serve.”

The company started inside the Kroger bakery downtown in 1933. Today Kemba has 10 branches across Central Ohio, more than 50,000 ATMs, and roughly $1 billion in assets.

“I think people think we’re this sleepy organization, but we offer every product and service that a bank does,” he says. “And because we’re not for profit, any profit we make, we return back to members through lower loan rates and fewer fees.”

One of the most pressing issues of today? Through guest lecturers and other partnerships, Kemba is making strides in diversity and inclusion, too. “I’m proud of our inclusive nature; we could and should do more,” he says. “We’re looking at how we can help with this social—and financial injustice—and make sure we walk that walk.”

 Virginia Brown is a freelance writer.