Third Federal Savings & Loan

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History and Values

A tradition of service and value.

In the Beginning

During the Depression in the 1930s, nearly one-third of Cleveland, Ohio residents were unemployed or underemployed. To keep the dream of home ownership alive, Ben S. Stefanski and his wife, Gerome, applied for a federal charter to create a savings and loan association in the vicinity of East 70th Street and Broadway Avenue. In fact, the Stefanskis were so committed to the idea that they applied for the charter on their honeymoon.

With the initial $50,000 in capital provided by members of the Slavic Village neighborhood, Third Federal Savings and Loan Association opened its first office on Broadway Avenue on May 7, 1938.

Years of Growth Image

Years of Growth

The Stefanskis started small, serving many of the struggling immigrant families from Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe who had settled in the Slavic Village area. Business activity grew, and the savings and loan association thrived.

Near the end of World War II, the GI Bill gave each veteran the opportunity to acquire a low-cost mortgage loan. In fact, Third Federal made the first GI mortgage loan in Cleveland. Local real estate activity boomed after the war as veterans took advantage of the loan program to buy homes in the city and nearby suburbs. Third Federal grew as it helped veterans and their young families begin new lives.

Through the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, Stefanski expanded the savings and loan by opening branch offices in growing Cleveland suburbs. Through the expansion, Third Federal remained true to its original mission: to provide home mortgages and great savings and retirement options for the residents of Northeast Ohio. At one point, Stefanski said, “it is a great privilege for us to be in a business whose primary purpose is to make it possible for every working person of every nationality race or creed to own a home.”

Third Federal Savings Today

Under the direction of Ben and Gerome Stefanski's son, Marc, who assumed the post of president and CEO in 1987, Third Federal now has assets of more than $12 billion and 1,000 associates. Today, it is a leading lender of conventional home mortgages and lends in 25 states, plus the District of Columbia. The company has branch offices in Ohio and Florida.

Third Federal continues to experience solid growth by controlling costs and constantly looking for new ways to improve service. Today, Third Federal is synonymous with personal service, stability, and sound financial management.

In 2007, Third Federal made a minority public offering that raised nearly $1 billion in capital. Those funds, added to the $1 billion of capital already accrued by the company, positioned Third Federal to withstand the latest national economic crisis—especially since the company did not engage in making subprime and other risky mortgage loans that were the basis of the recession.

The company retains its rich heritage by remaining headquartered in the same Cleveland neighborhood where it began. In addition to building a new $20 million corporate center in the area in 1998, the company created the Third Federal Foundation in 2007, which has donated millions of dollars to the area to support educational, housing, and other family-centered projects.

“My father grew up in this area, now known as Slavic Village, and my parents wanted to help maintain a viable, vibrant community built on the pride of home ownership,” says Marc Stefanski. “We've long been an important part of this neighborhood, and we remain committed to Cleveland, its neighborhoods, and suburbs.”

A close relationship with the communities, families and individuals it serves has always been a hallmark of Third Federal. Customers who walk into any branch today are greeted by a friendly hello from neighborhood associates. Marc Stefanski says that the savings and loan will never lose the personal touch that sets it apart from other financial institutions. Third Federal looks forward to providing its special brand of friendly, personal service to future generations of homebuyers in all of its markets.

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Our Mission and Values Make All the Difference

Our mission is to help people achieve the dream of home ownership and financial security while creating value for our customers, our communities, our associates and our stockholders.  We run our business and make all decisions using a value system of love (concern for others), trust, respect, a commitment to excellence and fun. By using our values to achieve our mission, we help people find the loan or savings product that makes sense for them. We educate consumers and offer home buying seminars to prepare them for homeownership—beyond just being able to afford a down payment.