First Commonwealth names chief experience officer

James Gagliano

First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union, which recently opened a new headquarters in Lower Macungie Township, has named a new chief experience officer.

James Gagliano has been appointed to the role. He is taking over for former chief marketing and experience officer, Tricia Szurgot, who was promoted to COO of the credit union.

In his role, Gagliano will lead First Commonwealth’s member experience organization, investment services, corporate social responsibility and its WE Thrive Foundation.

He will provide strategic direction and leadership for the credit union’s 11 financial centers, contact center, investment services, corporate social responsibility and employer partner developer as well as serving as director of First Commonwealth’s foundation.

“Selecting Jim as our new Chief Experience Officer is the culmination of a year-long executive search to find exactly the right person for this key role. He brings the perfect mix of experience, leadership style, a passion for people and community and alignment with our mission, vision and core values,” said Donna LoStocco, president and CEO of First Commonwealth.

Gagliano started his career as a financial advisor before transitioning to the banking industry in 1999.

He brings more than 20 years of executive leadership experience in retail banking, lending & business banking services and key skills in financial sales management, marketing, operations, and product development.

First Commonwealth holds grand opening of Allentown branch

First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union holds a virtual ribbon cutting at its new Downtown Allentown financial center. PHOTO/SUBMITTED


First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union has officially opened its Downtown Allentown financial center with a virtual ribbon cutting celebration.

The 840 W. Hamilton St. location is the credit union’s first urban bank.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the continued revitalization of Downtown Allentown and offer an entirely new, inclusive banking experience to those who live and work in this thriving urban hub,” said Donna LoStocco, president and CEO of First Commonwealth.

The new branch has walk-up, street-level access, rear parking, contactless banking and certified financial wellness counselors.

There are also two Interactive Transaction Machines, which provides extended service hours between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

With the new Allentown branch First Commonwealth now has 11 financial centers in the Lehigh Valley.

It recently opened its new flagship Trexlertown Financial center, which also includes a dedicated small business center.

First Commonwealth is a not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by its more than 68,000 members.

First Commonwealth opens new headquarters in Lower Macungie

First Commonwealth’s new corporate headquarter campus on Hamilton Blvd in Lower Macungie Township boasts an 81,000 sq ft headquarters facility and new flagship 5,000 sq ft two-story financial center featuring a dedicated small business center. PHOTO/SUBMITTED


The new corporate headquarters for First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union is now open on Hamilton Boulevard in Lower Macungie Township.

The corporate campus features an 81,000-square-foot headquarters facility and a new flagship 5,000-square-foot, two-story, full-service financial center, which features a dedicated business center.

The credit union said the building, dubbed the “Trexlertown Financial Center” is the largest of its 11 financial centers in the Greater Lehigh Valley.

“We’re proud to continue to invest in the Lehigh Valley and enhance our presence in the communities we serve and where our employees live, work, and play. Our new corporate headquarters allows us to offer an exceptional work environment for our growing workforce,” said Donna LoStocco, president and CEO of First Commonwealth in a release. “Our project is unique in that every aspect of our new headquarters came from input from our employees. We wanted the facility to be ‘for employees, by employees’ and that’s the approach we took through every phase of the project.”

She said the new headquarters was designed to be a high-functioning, friendly, and safe environment that offers an enjoyable and healthy “home at work” experience for its 220 employees.

The credit union consolidated two corporate operations centers in Bethlehem and Allentown into the Lower Macungie facility.

Both of those properties were sold in 2020.

The corporate campus was designed by MKSD Architects of Allentown and was constructed by Boyle Construction of Allentown.

FCFCU owns the 81,000-square-foot mixed-use building, occupying 61,000 square feet of the space.

The building also includes a 13,000-square-foot and a 7,000-square-foot commercial/retail tenant space, which both have exterior first floor entrances. FCFCU has already secured tenants for both spaces.

Local funding spurs renovation projects for Mex Grill owners

Juan Martinez and his wife, Melanie, recently refinanced a $1.7 million loan with Lehigh Financial Group LLC of Allentown for renovation work at Don Juan Mex Grill’s Palmer location at 2600 William Penn Highway. (PHOTO/FILE) –

The owners of five Lehigh Valley restaurants are embarking on major renovation projects at their Palmer Township and Easton locations.

Juan Martinez and his wife, Melanie, recently refinanced a loan with Lehigh Financial Group LLC of Allentown, to renovate Don Juan Mex Grill’s Palmer location at 2600 William Penn Highway.

Lehigh Financial’s Mike Gilbert said the Martinezes, who renovated part of the project last year, will use the new funding to make extensive renovations to the main building and a large portion of the storage buildings.

“We refinanced to be able to add a new roof to the main building, paint the outside, install new windows, upgrade the HVAC and overhaul another building in the back of the 25,000-square-foot-property,” Martinez said.

When they finish renovations this summer, Martinez said he hopes to find new tenants for the other building near the restaurant, which could offer space for medical or commercial tenants. He currently has a mix of contractors, landscapers and smaller self-storage units in the building.

First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union funded the $1.7 million renovation loan, Martinez said.

The first Mex Grill in the valley opened in the College Hill section of Easton in 2011. However, it closed in June when Lafayette College began building dorms on that block.

Martinez said the college was upfront in letting him know their plans for building student housing on that block about four years ago. Martinez said the college’s decision is why he is renovating a space inside The Spot that will become a new Mex Grill location at the base of College Hill near the college.

“We will be instrumental in helping him get financing for that as well,” Gilbert said.

Martinez has a lease agreement with Lafayette, which owns the property, and he will use the entire site for his restaurant, which will have the same menu as his other locations.

“We are a month away from opening,” he said. “We developed an awesome relationship with students and staff. For now, the goal is to continue to add more value for our customers.”

Martinez said he began the relationship with Lehigh Financial last year.

Lehigh Valley credit union named tops by Forbes Magazine

Forbes Magazine has named First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union of Bethlehem as the No. 1 in-state credit union in Pennsylvania.

First Commonwealth ranked first on the Forbes 2019 Best-In-State Credit Union list. The credit union has eight branches in the Greater Lehigh Valley.

The magazine recognized 182 credit unions, nationwide, out of the more than 5,000 credit unions in the country.

Three Pennsylvania credit unions were included on the 2019 list with American Heritage Federal Credit Union of Philadelphia and PSECU of Harrisburg also being honored.

Forbes said the financial institutions were scored on overall recommendations and satisfaction of customers, as well as five other factors — trust, terms and conditions, branch services, digital services and financial advice.

To celebrate its top ranking, First Commonwealth will be having member appreciation days July 2 at each of its branches.

The branches will be serving cupcakes and popsicles and a team will be interviewing customers about their banking experiences to create a commemorative video.

First Commonwealth opens eighth Lehigh Valley location

A ribbon cutting at the newest branch of First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union in Emmaus. –

First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union held a grand opening last week to launch its newest branch location.

Built in Emmaus on the site of a former Wendy’s fast food restaurant, the 2,800-square-foot financial center is the credit union’s eighth location.

The Chestnut Street branch features a financial wellness center, a café with free coffee, three interactive transaction machines and a drive-up window.

It is the fourth and largest First Commonwealth branch to incorporate the credit union’s new “social banking model,” which provides conversation spaces where customers can meet with financial wellness coaches.

It also is is First Commonwealth’s first branch in Emmaus.

The credit union has been expanding in the Lehigh Valley since 2017. It recently began construction on a new $20 million headquarters in Lower Macungie Township, which will replace its existing headquarters in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

Volunteer Challenge honors businesses that help the community

Lehigh Valley Businesses highlighted employee volunteer efforts at the 2019 Volunteer Challenge (Photo submitted) –

A record number of corporations participated in this year’s 2019 Volunteer Challenge, which is organized by the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley.

The event brought together 34 businesses at SteelStacks in Bethlehem earlier this month to showcase employee volunteer efforts.

Organizers said there were 10 new businesses participating this year, which also meant more nonprofit organizations were helped.

“The Volunteer Challenge brings together the Lehigh Valley’s best, a community of businesses and agencies that cares deeply about creating a place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, said Eric Luftig vice president of marketing at Victaulic in Forks Township, this year’s honorary chair. “We are so fortunate to have the Volunteer Center as a local ‘mutual fund’ of help and resources, able to connect and mobilize individuals and companies with those who need them most.”

Some of the businesses that participated in volunteer activities throughout the year were honored for their efforts.

Corbenic Partners of Bethlehem received the small company award for its work with the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Brown and Brown Insurance of Bethlehem received the medium-size company award for its work with the Third Street Alliance.

Both companies were new to the challenge this year.

The large company award went to First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union of Allentown for its work with the Lehigh Valley Academy Charter School; Crayola of Forks Township was honored as a company with more than 500 employees for its work with the Boys and Girls Club of Easton.

At the ceremony guests voted on their favorite volunteer campaign. The People’s Choice Award was won by Valley National Financial Advisors of Bethlehem for creating a “Zen” room for Paxinosa Elementary School in Easton.