Jim Blaine, SECU’s CEO since 1979, to retire

Jim Blaine, the long-time CEO of the State Employees’ Credit Union, plans to retire as soon as the credit union’s board of directors identify his successor.

Blaine, 66, has led the credit union since 1979, overseeing a period in which its assets grew from $300 million to $33 billion and the number of branches increased from eight to 256. Today SECU has more than 2 million members and 5,800 employees.

Founded in 1937, SECU serves state employees, public school employees and their families.

Blaine began working for the credit union in 1973 as a loan officer. He originally planned to work for SECU for a year before going back to school to get a graduate degree in business.

“I got converted along the way,” he said in an interview Monday. “We’re a nonprofit, we’re a co-op. It’s a principles-driven organization, and that’s very in keeping with my personality.”

Blaine spent several years as an SECU assistant general manager before taking over as CEO.

SECU’s board has hired Matthews, Young, a Hillsborough-based management consulting firm, to help it find Blaine’s successor.

Blaine said the selection process could take up to 9 months. He said the board has been working on a succession plan for the past 18 months, talking to senior managers about what the credit union should look for in its next leader.

Asked what he plans to do after retiring, Blaine said he has one goal: To be unscheduled and to do nothing.

“I’m gonna burn all the gray suits,” he said. “Take this uniform and burn it.”

David Bracken: 919-829-4548, @brackendavid