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Navy Federal’s Catalyst for Growth

Seven. That was the number of Navy Federal Credit Union members when the financial institution first opened its doors in 1933.

Unprecedented Growth for the World’s Largest Credit Union

Over eighty years later, Navy Federal is the largest credit union in the world, with more than five million members and an excess of $60 billion in assets. Under the leadership of President and CEO Cutler Dawson, the credit union has experienced unprecedented growth—much of which can be attributed to its decision to build a second center of operations in Pensacola, Florida. Following the 2002 expansion into the Sunshine State, Navy Federal has consistently experienced 20-25 percent annual growth ever since.


In 2001, Navy Federal knew that a big change was on the horizon. With its membership base steadily climbing, the credit union was quickly outgrowing the capabilities of its Vienna, Virginia headquarters. Building a new customer care center would be crucial in maintaining Navy Federal’s reputation for exceptional service. After considering another site in Virginia, Navy Federal ultimately opted for Florida. “Providing the best possible service to our members is our first priority,” explained Dawson. “Our Pensacola expansion is key to supporting the credit union’s strong growth and an important way for us to continue delivering outstanding service.” Dawson cited the region’s affordability, high military concentration and talented workforce as major factors behind the choice. Florida’s optimal business climate cemented the decision. “With our efforts to cut taxes, pay down debt and keep the cost of living low, Florida’s businesses are able to grow and create more jobs for families in the Sunshine State,” says Florida Governor Rick Scott. “We are working every day to make Florida the number one place in the world to find a job and run a business.”

Our Pensacola expansion is key to supporting the credit union’s strong growth.

Cutler Dawson
President & CEO of Navy Federal Credit Union


One of Navy Federal’s foremost reasons for choosing Northwest Florida was the region’s strong ties to the military. Recognized as “The Cradle of Navy Aviation,” Pensacola is home to the nation’s first Naval Air Station (NAS), built in 1913. Today, NAS Pensacola is known for hosting the Naval Education and Training Command, the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute and the world-renowned Blue Angels.

“The military is the core of who we are, it’s in our history and it’s in the way we serve,” says Debbie Calder, Senior Vice President of Greater Pensacola Operations at Navy Federal. “We make it a point to be where our members need us, which naturally includes being near military installations.” With 20 active military installations across the state and a history of winning Department of Defense contracts, Florida enjoys a well-earned reputation as the most military-friendly state in the nation. The state also boasts a substantial, highly trained ex-military labor pool, many of whom comprise Navy Federal’s current workforce.

An aerial view of Navy Federal’s Pensacola Campus.

An aerial view of Navy Federal’s Pensacola Campus.


Leveraging the region’s military and financial expertise, Navy Federal had no problem finding the workforce talent to successfully launch the credit union’s newest endeavor. After more than $200 million in capital investments and nearly a decade of continued expansion, the Pensacola campus is now home to 3,750 employees—more than you’ll find at Navy Federal’s Vienna headquarters. “From the time we were considering Florida as an option for a new operation center, we knew the workforce was impressive,” Calder reflected. “But nothing could have prepared us for how truly dedicated they would be to our members and to Navy Federal.” A quick look at the numbers reveals that the credit union isn’t alone. Home to the third-largest finance and insurance cluster in the United States, Florida has clearly established itself as a hub for financial institutions. With 170 commercial banks with $131 billion in assets operating throughout the state, there is no shortage of skilled finance professionals. In fact, Navy Federal was so pleasantly surprised by Florida’s workforce talent that it was able to expand its service offerings beyond customer contact to include lending, mortgage loan processing, information technology and human resources. “The talent pool in this area has been outstanding,” Calder affirmed.


Navy Federal further cultivates its capable workforce through robust continuing education programs with the area’s colleges and universities. For example, Navy Federal has worked with the University of West Florida (UWF) to develop certificate programs in the areas of Management Development, Human Resources Management, Graduate Business Foundation and JAVA. Additionally, UWF hosts virtual classes with curricula tailored to meet the unique needs of Navy Federal’s workplace. The university even utilizes Navy Federal’s Heritage Oaks site as a satellite campus for its students. The credit union also benefits from its partnership with Pensacola State College. Through the school’s Center for Corporate and Professional Development Training, Navy Federal is able to provide its workforce with ongoing training through workshops on business training and software use. The result? A nimble workforce equipped to meet the demands of today’s workplace as well as tomorrow’s.



With plans to open up two more branches by 2016 and a long-term goal of having 10,000 employees in Pensacola by 2020, Navy Federal shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. “Navy Federal Credit Union has been a tremendous job creator in our state,” said Florida Secretary of Commerce and Enterprise Florida President and CEO Bill Johnson. “Their commitment and investment in Florida signals that the state has the resources necessary for global leaders like Navy Federal to be successful and continue growing.” With a statewide dedication to helping business thrive, it’s no wonder Navy Federal found great success in the Sunshine State.