VyStar Credit Union, the 13th largest credit union in the United States, recently announced its intention to pursue a merger with 121 Financial Credit Union. Together, the two institutions offer more than a century of experience in serving the financial needs of credit union members.
VyStar CEO Brian Wolfburg and 121 Financial Credit Union CEO David Marovich commented on the proposed merger in a recent news release.
“121 Financial Credit Union has a proven history as a mission-oriented credit union, which aligns with our organization’s commitment to improving the places we call home,” Brian Wolfburg said in the press release. “We look forward to welcoming their employees and members to VyStar and working together to build on their many contributions to northeast Florida.”
Marovich added that the intended merger will help 121 Financial Credit Union provide improved services to northeast Florida, where the financial institution has operated since 1935 .
“Our combined partnership will expand access to best-in-class products and services to members, offer enhanced benefits and new opportunities to our employees and amplify our collective impact within the community,” Marovich said.
Finalization of the merger is expected by the end of the year, pending approval by regulators and credit union members, as well as standard closing conditions.
Both Companies Have Roots in Jacksonville
VyStar started in 1952 in Jacksonville, Florida, as the Jax Navy Federal Credit Union with 12 founding members and $60. At its founding, the credit union served members of the military. In 2002, the financial institution changed its name to VyStar Credit Union.
VyStar has grown consistently through the years and now has about $13 billion in assets and more than 900,000 members nationwide.
121 Financial Credit Union started during the Great Depression as Florida Telco Credit Union, one of the first credit unions in the United States formed after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act  into law. The 10 founding members, all employees at Southern Bell, started the credit union with just $155.
Today, 121 Financial Services has 49,000 members and about $680 million in assets.
“From the early days of being a credit union for the telephone company and VyStar’s roots in serving the military, we have both been fortunate to see our two credit unions thrive,” Marovich said. “We’ve enjoyed a long history of giving and helping guide our members toward financial wellness, and help improve lives and make the places we live stronger.”
VyStar CEO Brian Wolfburg Speaks About Proposed Merger
In a video made with Marovich about the intent to merge with 121 Financial Credit Union, VyStar CEO Brian Wolfburg talked about the connection between the two Jacksonville-based companies.
“Together, VyStar and 121 Financial have more than 150 years of combined experience. And while we have grown, we will continue to uphold a steadfast commitment to northeast Florida,” Wolfburg said.
Wolfburg stated that, in addition to sharing a history of supporting individuals and the community in northeast Florida, VyStar and 121 Financial share “core values” that “have been so closely aligned since our beginnings.”
He added, “We couldn’t be more confident or more excited as we embark on this new journey together. It’s a partnership that will undoubtedly enable us to do even more for our employees, our members, and our community.”
Brian Wolfburg said the proposed merger with 121 Financial Credit Union would result in a stronger financial institution for members of both credit unions, as well as employees and the communities they serve. VyStar would invite the 140 employers from 121 Financial Credit Union to join VyStar.
“With a shared history of commitment to our employees, to our members, and to our communities, 121 Financial and VyStar will be joining together to create an even better financial organization for those we serve, one in which we can continue to strive to live up to the credit union founding principles of people helping people,” Wolfburg said. “And one in which we can all do more good for those we serve.”
VyStar CEO Brian Wolfburg Leads Efforts to Better Serve Members
The merger is the latest news involving VyStar that revolves around the credit union’s ongoing effort to expand its reach and provide improved services to its members. The not-for-profit credit union doesn’t concern itself with pleasing stakeholders, but rather focuses profits on delivering enhanced services for its members, including free accounts and services, as well as lower fees. As VyStar notes on its website: “Our business is powered by our commitment to serve.”
Part of that commitment involves expanding the reach of VyStar’s services. In addition to the planned 121 Financial Credit Union merger, VyStar also completed a merger with First Coast Federal Credit Union earlier in 2023. The credit union’s growth trajectory also has included opening new branches in multiple locations in Florida — including a regional hub in Tallahassee — and Georgia.
At a recent branch opening in Lake Mary, Florida, Brian Wolfburg talked about the importance of establishing VyStar in new communities, as well as supporting individuals and organizations in those locales. For example, VyStar made a donation to the Seminole County Public Schools (Lake Mary is in Seminole County, outside of Orlando).
“With the purpose of doing good, and a core value of leading by example, community engagement is a huge part of everything that we do,” Wolfburg said at the branch-opening event . “Bringing great financial services to the market is important to us, but making sure we partner with things like the Seminole County Public Schools is making a difference not only in our members’ lives, but the community around them.”