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Barry Heller: ‘People Business’ Led Him to Arkansas Federal


Barry Heller joined the Arkansas Federal Credit Union team in December 2018 after a long career in the hospitality industry, but things don’t feel much different for the Cabot branch manager. After all, Arkansas Federal’s mission begins with service.

Heller knows a thing or two about service. Starting in the restaurant business as a dishwasher at age 14, he worked his way up, yes, the food chain, to become director of operations for Quality Foods. For Heller, the move to the credit union has proven an organic one.

“While it’s recognized as the hospitality industry, I always considered it to be the ‘people business,’” he said. “Arkansas Federal is for sure the people business.”

Building relationships, as opposed to simply conducting transactions, is what sets the credit union apart, Heller believes.

“One difference is the fact that we train and encourage our team members to build relationships with our members and look for opportunities to save them money, make them money or provide a convenience,” he said. “I can’t remember a previous financial institution ever attempting to build that kind of rapport with me or my family.”    

Heller said members send Christmas cards, bring in donuts and sometimes just drop in to say hello. “I’m thankful to be part of an organization that encourages this type of interaction with our members.”

As a branch manager, Heller has many “plates spinning” at any given moment. It can be challenging, he noted but is always rewarding.

“We see people at some of the most challenging times in their lives and some of the most celebrated times,” he said. “For me and my team, we are humbled and honored to be involved with so many wonderful people and to have the opportunity to assist them during the challenging times and celebrate with them during life events.”

This relationship culture at Arkansas Federal starts from the inside out. Heller considers his fellow team members the best part of working at the credit union, “hands down.”

“The culture of people is alive and well within the organization,” he said. “Preserving the culture at Arkansas Federal is so important that on your first day, many members of the executive team will make time to eat lunch with every new team member. Later that same day, Rodney Showmar, the CEO, spends time with every new team member in his office to discuss the definition of the Arkansas Federal culture.

“I mean really, what organization does this anymore? This translates to how every Arkansas Federal team member takes care of each other and every person that walks through the doors at any Arkansas Federal location.” 

His first year on the job over-delivered, a hospitality industry tenet: “I have not only built amazing professional relationships at Arkansas Federal that have pushed me and helped me grow in this career but many of those same people I have the privilege to call my friends.”  

Heller’s been married to Karen for 34 years and has two “awesome” children, Bennett and Madison, plus a Boxer named Joe.

“Yes, my daughter named our Boxer after a brand of underwear,” he admitted.

Heller’s passion for serving extends beyond the credit union. As a member of the Community Emergency Response Team with the Faulkner County Office of Emergency Management, he’s a FEMA first responder who has helped provide disaster-relief assistance in Arkansas and surrounding states.

Passionate about firearms safety, Heller teaches courses and provides training. He’s an NRA-certified rifle and pistol instructor, a safety instructor for the Arkansas State Police, a chief instructor with S7 Tactical and the Arkansas Gun Club, and is a member of his church security team, to boot.

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