In 2011, Noel Sanger left behind the big bank industry and moved his family to Fort Smith to take a job at United Federal Credit Union. Sanger became the market vice president overseeing five branches and 49 employees in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Sanger adjusted to a different pace and culture after working in the markets of Chicago, San Diego and Kansas City — and for large operations U.S. Bank and Chase Bank. Six years later he has built a team with high loyalty and exceptionally low turnover. He was named Boss of the Year in 2014 through the Fort Smith Junior Chamber, and his market has repeatedly ranked at the top for employee satisfaction within United’s system.
“I fell in love with credit unions; we have our own niche. We’ll write the smaller loans and I value being able to serve in my community,” Sanger said.
Sanger’s original college major was psychology, and his first jobs were as a drug court liaison and a tutor for prisoners; he always enjoyed helping people, but during college decided he’d rather do so in a field that was less taxing personally.
Sanger appreciates that he can overlap work and community outreach. He recreated a program in Fort Smith that he had seen in a larger market; the River Valley Corporate Challenge now raises funds for the Children’s Emergency Shelter and Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club. He also implemented a Perfect Attendance program at seven area schools, which has created a dramatic spike in attendance.
He is a board member, coach and volunteer for the River Valley Futbol Club.
Sanger is also a board member of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, and he was president of the nonprofit First Tee of Fort Smith in 2015.