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By Marjorie Woodfin

Pilot staff writer

When Chetco Federal Credit Union President and Chief Executive Officer Stanley Baron was thumbing through his latest copy of Oregon Business magazine's Power Book 2007 issue, he was surprised to see a face that he recognized.

"I thought, ‘That guy looks familiar.' I took a closer look and discovered why." It was a shot of Baron himself.

He said that he was thumbing through the magazine because, "We're being considered as one of the top 100 small companies in Oregon, but we won't know until March."

Until he saw his photo in the magazine, Baron said he had no idea that he was even being considered for the recognition as one of "50 Great Leaders for Oregon."

Baron was recognized as a leader in the section, "10 Super Connectors," described as, "Super Connectors know everyone and everything it takes to get things done in business or public policy. They make the connections Oregon needs to keep things humming."

According to the article, "Baron, 63, has led CFCU to be an award-winning credit union and a positive community influence in Oregon's Southwest corner."

Baron is quoted in the magazine in answer to the question about what he wanted to do when he grew up, "I had no idea until I stumbled upon credit unions. During my 36 years in the credit union industry my passion has grown consistently."

Referring to that quote, Baron said, "When you find something that you fall in love with, you're fortunate."

He is definitely in love with his business. "I'm not sure if we succeed in a business because we love the business, or if we love the business because we succeed," he said.

Both Baron and his wife Tina grew up in New Jersey. When they graduated from university they told each other that one day they would drive to the West Coast until they found just the right place.

They settled into jobs in New Jersey and started raising their family, two sons and a daughter. When their daughter took off for the University of Rhode Island, Baron said he looked at his wife and reminded her of their dream of 30 years earlier.

He saw an ad on a Credit Union Association web site advertising the position in Brookings. They had never heard of Brookings, but decided to take a look. And they liked what they saw.

Baron said, coming from the faster moving pace of the busy East Coast, moving to Brookings was culture shock. "When I first heard, ‘No hurry in Curry,' I thought, ‘Oh, oh, I'm in trouble.'"

He explained, "I walk faster than most people here drive," but then he added, "However, I've acclimated, and slowed down my life pace about 40 percent, and I realize that I enjoy it."

He and his family are enjoying life on the Oregon Coast. "Just going to the market or the post office is a social event," he said. "The relationships with the people the credit union, and the community is the most satisfying of my life."

Baron said he loves being in a small town. He said his motivation is, "What can I do for people. Anybody can make loans to millionaires, but we can make loans that can help bring people back to financial stabilization. We're about people."

Baron is looking forward to the March issue of Oregon Business to see if Chetco Federal Credit Union will be recognized as one of the top 100 small businesses in Oregon.


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