Turning back the clock
Of course, many things have changed at ESL over the course of our long history.
But the essential spirit that motivates us to do our best for our members is part of our DNA. And it dates back to our founding in 1920 by George Eastman, one of the greatest philanthropists of the 20th century.
A gifted entrepreneur and inventor, Mr. Eastman built Eastman Kodak Company into one of the world’s leading corporations. But he also had a heartfelt interest in his employees and the surrounding community.
“I want to make Rochester for the thousands of people I have gathered here the best place on the face of the earth to live in and bring up their families,” he once wrote.
During his lifetime, he made generous contributions to education, music, and healthcare. He helped launch the Community Chest, the forerunner to our local United Way.
He was also a visionary business leader who recognized the importance of helping employees manage their finances. Which is why he launched Eastman Savings & Loan Association in 1920.
According to the February 1921 edition of Kodak magazine, “One of the prime objects of the Eastman Savings & Loan Association is to encourage and aid as many as possible of our employees in purchasing and owning a home.”
Decades of steady growth lead to a time of transformation
In the first week of the association’s existence, more than 3,500 employees signed up to become customers. And the number continued to grow over the next several decades.
Then, in the final decade of the 20th century, a dramatic evolution took place.
On February 1, 1996, a historic change in our charter resulted in a name change: Eastman Savings & Loan Association became ESL Federal Credit Union.
The following year we launched ESL Investment Services, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary that dramatically expanded the range of financial services we could offer to our members.
A few years later, we made our services available to more people than ever before, since membership was no longer limited to Kodak employees and their families. We also began opening branches and ATMs throughout the community.
It was all part of our effort to help thousands of people in Greater Rochester manage their money wisely, save for the future and borrow for their needs.