By GREGORY ZELLER //
Kirk Kordeleski is back.
The former CEO of Bethpage Federal Credit Union might argue that he’s been back for quite some time: He launched Syosset-based community-banking advisory Kordeleski Consulting more than nine months ago, after stepping down from atop Bethpage FCU for health reasons late in 2014.
But now he’s really, really back: Later this week, Kordeleski will be named CEO of The Edge, a Miami-based consultancy also designed to help fledlging credit unions find their footing.
Both Kordeleski Consulting – which will hang on for about six more months, its namesake told Innovate LI, while fulfilling existing contracts – and The Edge lean heavily on Kordeleski’s three decades-plus in the credit-union field.
Kordeleski, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from George Mason University, peaked at Bethpage Federal, where he worked for 22 years, including seven as executive vice president and 15 as CEO. During that decade-and-a-half on top, Kordeleski helped grow the credit union from the nation’s 40th to its 15th largest, increasing assets from about $950 million to nearly $6 billion along the way.
Other Bethpage FCU accomplishments on Kordeleski’s watch: A decade’s worth of consistent rankings among the nation’s top credit unions regarding asset, mortgage, deposit, home-equity and commercial-services growth; documented income growth through the teeth of the Great Recession; a top-five industry performance for Bethpage’s $2 billion investment portfolio; and a rapid ascent to become Long Island’s third-largest mortgage lender.
All that, while building a household-name community-banking brand through clever media and digital marketing engagement that included TV commercials starring a money-smart duo named “Beth” and “Page.”
“I had the great fortune of being at Bethpage during a time when we doubled its size every five years, from 2000 to the end of 2014,” he said. “We took what was a credit union that was serving employees at only a few companies and turned it into a premier community institution, primarily by taking the not-for-profit model … and building a brand around it.”
When those health issues became paramount two years ago, Kordeleski stepped down – but he never forgot the lessons he learned at Bethpage FCU, and infused them into Kordeleski Consulting when it launched last spring.
The approach caught the eye of Edge founder Louis Hernandez, chairman, president and CEO of Massachusetts-based Avid Technologies, a powerhouse distributor of music- and video-editing hardware and software.
Kordeleski described Hernandez as “a wealthy technology investor who has been interested in starting a top-of-the-line consulting firm for community-banking institutions.” Hernandez is also the founder of Florida-based private-investment firm Black Dragon Capital, and decided to launch his new consultancy near Black Dragon’s Miami offices.
Kordeleski, who will continue to operate out of his current Syosset space and is even bringing some key employees from his outgoing company to The Edge, said he and his new boss see eye-to-eye about the importance of community-based banking.
“He had this idea that community banking really needed a consulting company that was well-funded and could help these credit unions grow substantially and be successful,” Kordeleski noted. “He’s a real believer, and he came and recruited me to run this company.”
The Edge is actually up and running already; it launched with an interim CEO at the helm, who has since moved on to run a different Black Dragon Capital subsidiary. Kordeleski was drafted to fill that void, creating what the new CEO called a “core team” alongside President Joe Dugan and COO Carlos Rodriguez.
Kordeleski isn’t the only employee who won’t be reporting to the new company’s Miami offices. While Rodriguez will be stationed in the Sunshine State, Dugan’s office is in Poughkeepsie, giving the consultancy boots on the ground in several key locations, Kordeleski noted.
“That’s the wonderful thing about the virtual nature of our world today,” he said.
While he can certainly imagine scenarios in which The Edge’s Long Island office grows with new employees and larger accommodations, for now Kordeleski is thinking like an entrepreneur. His health issues are in the past, he said this week, and his main focus now is taking everything he’s learned over the past 30-odd years and plugging it into his new enterprise.
“I went through my health challenges and I’ve been out and about and working hard for nine months,” he said. “My health is wonderful and everything else is good, and as you can guess, we have a lot of work to do.
“As with any relatively new company, what we need to do first is hone the strategy,” Kordeleski added. “We have to understand the team and figure out the best way to go about offering our services, then create our core products and brand-building strategies. That’s how you move forward.”