Tim Ellis is a happy man.
As the new manager of Whitefish Credit Union’s Thompson Falls branch, he says, “I have not been so happy being someplace in a long time. Whitefish Credit Union is doing things the right way.”
Ellis combines a 15-year background in banking with an understanding of small-town life and priorities, having grown up on a family dairy farm in Oregon. He has family and friends in agriculture, logging and law enforcement, which he feels helps in relating to the needs of a rural area such as Sanders County.
Ellis did not set out seeking a banking career. In fact, he says, many bankers come to it from other fields. In his case, Ellis started as a police cadet in Portland, Ore., and then worked for Ryder Trucks, where he moved from washing and fueling trucks to managing a sales territory. When he was laid off after six years he was lost. “I didn’t have a resume or anything. I had assumed I’d be there forever,” Ellis said. He was skeptical when his wife at the time suggested he apply for a job he had no experience in — bank branch manager. But he interviewed, and got the job, managing a U.S Bank branch in a grocery store.
He was sent to a six-week “Bankers School,” and because it was such a small branch, he received training in all aspects of the business, rather than having to specialize right away. From there, he covered many branches around Portland and in Minnesota.
A motorcycle trip to Shelby started his love affair with Montana. He enjoyed watching “kids dragging up and down the main street. I thought that was pretty cool.” In 2005, he took a community bank president position for Wells Fargo in Shelby for five years, but eventually ended up back in Portland.
This is the first credit union Ellis has worked for. “It’s a lot of difference, but what makes Whitefish Credit Union such a good fit is that the stuff we’re doing here is the stuff I’ve been preaching for all my time in banking.” He loves that at Whitefish CU, each customer is treated with individual, personable attention. “In a city bank, with a corporate mentality, that doesn’t usually happen. No one cares. But I noticed that when they were treated this way, they responded with happy surprise,” he said,
Ellis looks forward to hunting, fishing, camping and hiking in the area, and he might try to get his folks to move this way now that they aren’t farming anymore.
“I love this place and the people are awesome,” Ellis said.