Credit Union History
U. S. Pipe (Chattanooga) Federal Credit Union was chartered in November 7, 1961 for the purpose of serving the employees of U. S. Pipe and Foundry who work in Chattanooga, Tennessee, employees of the credit union, and the members of their immediate families. There were more than 800 employees at the time the credit union was chartered and at its highest level of employment; U. S. Pipe and Foundry employed almost 1500 workers.
In 1964, the credit union changed its name to U. S. Pipe Chattanooga Federal Credit and in 1969, with assets over $1 million and almost 1400 members, the credit union built a new building which was located at 1301 Carter Street. These were great changes for the credit union; however, the most important thing happened in 1971 when the credit union was approved for share insurance. For the first time, the credit union members could feel like their deposits were safe. With shares insured, the credit union grew (within one year) almost thirty percent in assets.
Over the next several years the credit union experienced continuous growth, and in 1986 celebrated its twenty fifth year of existence. However, in 1990 a portion of U. S. Pipe (soil pipe division) was sold and the new owners immediately closed the plant and terminated over 300 employees. For the first time since being chartered, the credit union had to deal with real adversity. Loans decreased more than $1 million and within the next couple of years the credit union had to charge off over $200,000. Despite the U. S. Pipe employee decrease, the credit union continued to grow, mainly because of the addition of a few small employee groups and the merging of a couple of small credit unions.
In 1997, credit union management decided that a new credit union building was needed in order to add new and improve existing services for its members. In 1998, the credit union moved into a new 6500 square foot building with two drive-through lanes. This new building was designed to enable the credit union to grow comfortably for the next ten to fifteen years. The new building would easily accommodate up to twenty employees.
At the end of 1998, U. S. Pipe and Foundry (with no warning) began an organizational restructuring. As a result of that restructuring, over 600 jobs have been lost reducing the total workforce to about 550 employees. Between the years of 1989 and 2003, U. S. Pipe and Foundry reduced its workforce by over 900 employees.
The instability of U. S. Pipe and Foundry, as a long time future employer, prompted the credit union to take a long hard look at its future, and what was needed to ensure its continued growth and survival. The conclusion was that expanded services and an expanded field of membership were paramount.
In September 2004, the credit union changed its name to Chattanooga First Federal Credit Union and expanded its services to include share drafts, debit cards, and ATM services w/cards.