Saugerties resident Bob Michaud is senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, a not-for-profit financial institution founded in 1963 primarily to meet the needs of IBM employees.
Kingston-based MHVFCU has more than 50,000 customers and about $750 million in assets, and those numbers are expected to rise this year because of grassroots movements like last year’s Bank Transfer Day. That event was part of a wider trend for bank customers unhappy with certain practices to move their money to credit unions, which are essentially financial cooperatives that are averse to predatory lending and other distasteful practices.
“We have more of Saugerties than Bank of America, and we take that very seriously; we try to do the best possible job,” said Michaud. He added that a recent direct-mail marketing campaign yielded an astonishing 26 percent rate of response, which illustrates just how well MHVFCU is able to target its local customer base.
Bob and his wife K.C. Grapes, who owns a graphic design studio and is a wildlife painter, relish the Saugerties lifestyle above all other places they’ve lived during their nearly 40 years together, 36 as husband and wife. Hardcore vegans, they often dine at Café Tango and Main Street Café where the wait staff serves them special off-the-menu dishes. They’re also Orpheum Theatre regulars.
Bob’s originally from New Bedford, Massachusetts and K.C.’s from western Pennsylvania. They met in the early seventies at the Santa Monica Airport Municipal Airport, where both held entry-level jobs. They have two grown daughters; one is a photo retoucher who lives with her husband in Florida, and the other is about to graduate from Florida State University’s film school.
After a stint as a cable-guy in Beverly Hills, both Bob and K.C. went to work for Xerox Corp. in Colorado, later moving to a small town near Pittsburgh, where for many years they ran an advertising agency together. Eventually one of their clients – a bank – made Bob an offer he couldn’t refuse, and his success there eventually led to the job with MHVFCU, which he’s held since February ’09.
Before Bob accepted the credit union job, he and K.C. came up to look around the Hudson Valley, where they immediately fell in love with the Saugerties Lighthouse and its surroundings. They soon rented out their house in Pennsylvania and bought a Saugerties contemporary with a colorful history which had been on the market for a long time; a previous owner was found guilty of embezzling from medical-mannequin maker Simulaids. They still occasionally get sent her “interesting” mail, said Bob.
This spring, beginning on a cruise vacation, Bob and K.C. plan to start working together on a World War II-era espionage novel.
What’s the secret of their successful personal and professional partnership?
“You have to know who wears the pants in the family, and it’s not me,” says Bob.
What makes Saugerties unique?
It’s eclectic. You meet people from all walks of life. There’s such creativity here, and I love the Saugerties Times. We lived in a much larger town in Pennsylvania and they didn’t have a weekly newspaper like this.
What’s your favorite virtue?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What is your favorite color, flower and animal?
Sonic blue clearcoat, like my old 2003 Cobra, which I sold. Lipstick-red gladiolas. And my dogs, Tucker and Socks.
What do you like most about this community?
Nobody is stuffy and everybody lets you be who you are.
Who is the most interesting person you have met in Saugerties?
Probably Ed Novak, who owns The Pig Bar & Grill. He’s his own deejay. I really like his expanding playlist.
What’s your idea of the perfect Saturday?
A quiet day at home writing with K.C.
Which qualities do you most admire in others?
I’m fussy. I don’t like people being someone they’re not. I like honest and genuine people. Part of that is me – I don’t like to waste a minute of time on (baloney). Don’t sugarcoat; take the direct approach.
Do you have any heroes?
The military. I have respect for anyone who wears the uniform.
What’s your idea of happiness?
Connecting, writing. I really get a lot out of watching our daughters become successful. I recently had a great time being on a professional-level film production with my younger daughter.
What’s your idea of misery?
Time wasted on negative energy; when people can’t turn their problems into action plans.
What talent do you most wish you had been given?
If I come back, I really want to be a drummer.
What’s your main fault?
I forget that other people don’t have the same aptitudes I do.
For which fault do you have the most tolerance?
Well, the fault for which I have the least tolerance is dealing with prima donna attitudes.
What’s your favorite motto?
“We’re on the wrong road making great time.”
What characters in history do you most dislike?
This isn’t from history exactly. Oh, I suppose currently I don’t care for people like Britney Spears, Madonna, Lindsay Lohan. I don’t like people who don’t really offer anything meaningful to society, who are just famous for being famous. There’s a lot of real work to be done in the world.
What is your present state of mind?
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear Saint Peter say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“You made a difference.”