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​Howard and Gail: Longtime Member-Owners and Advocates of Truliant

Contributed by: Heath Combs


In a world defined by 140-character tweets, YouTube videos and the number of Likes on a Facebook post, customer relationships that span decades are no longer the norm. For many, loyalty has become a fleeting commodity.
 
But Howard L. Freese and Gail Brinn Wilkins have been loyal Truliant member-owners for 24 years. They were married in 1993. Freese’s connection with Truliant goes back 34 years – and he was first introduced to credit unions nearly 50 years ago,  in 1968. They both remember when Truliant was known as the AT&T Family Federal Credit Union.
 
For Freese and Wilkins the long-standing relationship with Truliant is about service, service, service.
 
“Truliant is a place for thrifty people who want to learn,” Freese said. “I’ve used a lot of Truliant guidance over the years. They are always available to pick up the phone and speak. They will call you right back if they are not available. Another feature is face-to-face consultations, and these can be had at any of the branch offices. These people are very well trained.”
 
The couple lives in Charlotte and does 95 percent of their Truliant banking online. Once a quarter they visit the Matthews or South End offices.
 
Freese, who retired in 2014 from ATI Allvac as the biomedical and marketing manager, often points out the many benefits of the Credit Union Auto Buying Service (CUABS).*
 
“I have purchased five cars through the Credit Union Auto Buying Service,” he said. “The information on auto pricing and availability is amazing. They walk you through the process hand-in-hand and on the day of delivery, they will sell your car, come and pick it up, get your title. 
 
“It is a very convenient way to buy a car. And the pricing is very, very attractive." He added: “In the early ‘90s I purchased three small buses for the members of our  church. They are a very, very large ‘dealer’ of buying services for cars, buses and other vehicles.”
 
Freese doesn’t  keep the benefits of being a Truliant member-owner a secret. “I can’t tell you how many $5 bills he’s given out to people so they could open an account,” Wilkins said. “If anything financial comes up in a conversation, Truliant is in the next sentence.”
 
Freese is quick to add: “I give them the paperwork as well. I don’t sign it. ‘Here it is if you want, and I’ll give you the first $5 to open an account.’”
 
“I’m a believer,” Freese said. “I believe in learning all you can about finances and managing your money. A number of people, unfortunately, often make bad decisions and don’t get good advice on buying a home, buying a car, investing in IRA accounts and opening CDs.  I think the people of Truliant are well trained and very knowledgeable.”
 
“You can get very good decision information that’s available without bias. No pressure to sell. They are here for service,” Freese said.
 
Freese and Wilkins,  president and owner of Gail Brinn Wilkins, Inc., a firm specializing in residential, professional, commercial and hospitality design projects, also see Truliant as the perfect solution for young people who are just getting on their financial feet.
 
“What I really love about Truliant,” Freese said, “is what I believe it can do for the people of North Carolina and the other states (South Carolina and Virginia) that they serve. The fact that they help people get an early start – using baby steps – with checking accounts, credit cards, the purchase of a car and, ultimately, the purchase of a home.”
 
That’s what makes Truliant special for Freese and Wilkins. And over the past 24 years, Truliant has more than met their financial needs.
 
“Financing, refinancing our own properties and all the other financial services that Truliant provides. There is no other place to go  than Truliant,” Wilkins said.
 
Want to know more about Howard and Gail? Visit the Charlotte Observer to see a 2012 profile of them.

*CUABS is an independent NC licensed automobile dealer not owned or operated by Truliant.

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