GCU President/CEO April Report
Welcome to the Annual Report issue of the GCU Magazine. It certainly has been a tumultuous year as this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has affected each of lives in some way. We are certainly seeing some “light at the end of the tunnel” as vaccination programs are well under way. This will hopefully make our experiences dealing with this dilemma a distant memory and enable us to return to a normal way of life. I recently viewed a sign that I would like to share with you that we may all be able to relate to:
“Due to The Current Pandemic, The State of The Economy And
The Rise in Gasoline Prices,
The Light at The End of The Tunnel Has Been Turned OFF”
Here in Western Pennsylvania “spring has certainly sprung,” as we are witnessing nature transforming itself back to life from its winter slumber. The spring season certainly has its own smell and feel with the trees starting to bud, the tulips, daffodils, forsythia bushes and many other spring perennials starting to bloom. I am awed by the spring transition just as much as the colorful autumn that is another amazing natural phenomenon that God has provided!
Despite the challenges that were presented to the GCU in 2020, our light is shining brighter than ever! As I reported in my articles in previous issues, it was business as usual for the GCU in 2020 as our Business Continuity Plan (BCP) worked to perfection. One of our focuses within our operation has been risk mitigation. Our Business Continuity Plan has been developed to address circumstances that may occur that would disrupt the day-to-day operations of the GCU’s business. This allows for the continuation of services to our members and agents and the processing of new business. In reviewing various incidents that could possibly happen that would call for the implementation of our BCP, the odds of a global pandemic occurring were very low. The GCU experienced the Spanish Flu in 1918 that had a drastic negative effect on the solvency, as claims rose substantially threatening the GCU’s very existence. Once again, the administration at the time enacted a plan that would pay all claims and assure GCU’s continuance as a fraternal. One constant that the GCU has experienced over its one hundred and thirty years of history is sound leadership that has first and foremost protected the members of the GCU.
Published in the April issue are also reports from our Chief Operations Officer, Scott Schuetz and our Chief Financial Officer, Tim Demetres. Our business plan contains several initiatives as outlined in Mr. Schuetz’s report that are centered around transforming our technology to the highest level possible that will allow for the continued growth of our life and annuity business. The Board of Directors has approved funding of our “Project WOW” that will provide for greater efficiency for our staff in serving our members and agents. In addition, online portals will allow our members and agents to transact business electronically that will provide for “the ease of doing business with the GCU.” This investment no doubt will transform to even greater financial success for our Society now and into the future. One of our major goals is to increase our life business. Although many challenges were presented to our distribution in meeting with potential new life business members, our life premium did increase by $2.2 million in comparing year end 2020 to 2019.
We invite you to also view Mr. Demetres detailed financial reports and commentary that presents very positive financial results despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic in 2020. A simple barometer for a company’s success is continued growth in assets and surplus with sustained profitability. The GCU once again accomplished all three as assets grew 7.2% in 2020 and now total
$2.2 billion. Surplus also increased by 12.2% and stands at $182.6 million along with sustained profitability before capital gains and losses of $29.7 million.
I invite you to view the back page of the GCU April Magazine that presents the volunteer and financial contributions made by our lodges and districts and the GCU Home Office that support various causes. We thank all our lodge and district officers and members that participated in our various programs in support of the GCU’s Mission.
The Board of Directors will be addressing the GCU fraternal structure and developing a strategic plan to attract more of our members to participate in the fraternal aspects of our Society.
Our sincere appreciation once again to our members and agents for your continued support of the GCU and our Mission. Our staff also deserves a great deal of accolades for their continued conscientious efforts that plays a most important role to our operational, fraternal and financial success.
I would like to also present to you an update on the subsidiaries of the GCU Holding Company, Inc. namely the GCU Real Estate Company and Seven Oaks Country Club. The unsurety of the pandemic certainly presented a challenge to the real estate market in 2020 as no sales were recorded in the single-family development at Congressional Place. I am excited to report however that 2021 is a much different environment as we have recorded three lot sales thus far in 2021. Four new homes will be under construction beginning over the next ninety days, that will include one spec home. Only seven lots remain for sale at Congressional Place as we continue to receive inquiries and are anxiously anticipating that this single-family phase of development will be totally completed in the very near future. Pinehurst Village, our carriage home multi-family site that is being developed by Castlebrook Development, has experienced sales activity and we anticipate that 2021 will be an excellent year for sales at this development as well. We invite you to visit the Howard Hanna website – www.howardhanna.com – click Buy – click New Construction – click Beaver County – as both Pinehurst Village and Congressional Place can be viewed for completed units and available lots.
Seven Oaks experienced one of its most successful years in terms of new members joining as dues revenue reached an all-time record. We do believe that the pandemic may have attributed to attracting one hundred and sixty-five new members as families and individuals were seeking safer outdoor activities under the pandemic guidelines. The restrictions on indoor dining allowed for take-out food service only for several months as well as capacities being severely restricted for special banquets such as wedding and other celebratory events which resulted in a substantial loss in food and beverage revenues. As social distancing guidelines in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are continuing to be less restrictive, we anticipate that 2021 will be an excellent year financially for the Club. The Clubhouse and Golf Course have undergone a major transition over the last several years as several improvement have been made. The renovations have also contributed to the increase in membership and dues revenue. This facility certainly presents itself as an extension of the GCU as we invite you to visit our entire campus and assure that you will be very impressed and proud to be a member of the GCU.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, our Executive Officers, Department Directors and our entire Support Staff, we thank you for your business you have entrusted us with. Our best wishes to you and your family for a fun, safe and most deserved relaxing summer!
We do hope that your light is burning bright or at least getting brighter!
As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns!
GOODNESS IS GREAT!
George N. Juba, President/CEO