Automotive and Firefighter CUs Have Proven Joint Conferences Do Work
I'm writing in regards to two recent items in Credit Union Times - one entitled "Joint Automotive/Firefighter CUs Meetings to End" in the June 22 issue and the second, a letter to the editor in the July 6 issue entitled "Contrary to Story, Automotive and Firefighter CU Groups Getting Along Just Fine." from James Carson, President of the Daimler Chrysler Council of CUs. There needs to be some further clarification here. First, the initial article referred to the joint meetings as an "experiment" and that the two groups were calling it off. Both are incorrect. The meetings were not an experiment. They were well planned, executed and were quite successful. I would not discourage other groups for combining their conferences as the concept is excellent. I think use of the word "experiment" is somewhat misleading. Second, as conference managers for the firefighter CU Group, Linda Bikoff and I decided to separate the firefighter conference from the automotive council's meeting based on input from the firefighter credit unions. This decision was made by us and not the Combined Council, and we do not exclude the possibility of having a joint conference in the future with the Automotive Council or any other group. The bottomline was the firefighter credit unions just wanted their own program. We agreed to hold the firefighter's conference for 2005 on the same dates and at the same hotel as the Automotive Conference to help the Automotive Council avoid any rooming and meal penalties with the hotel. We did not discuss the pending decision with the Auto Council as it was not a requirement of our contract. We exercised a provision of the agreement to terminate it upon notice. The firefighter CUs did indeed bring new vendors to the combined exhibit area which was a benefit for both groups. As the exhibit manager, I'm well acquainted with those companies that participated for the first time in recent years. There were about a half dozen. While credit unions may be credit unions, the biggest difference between the two groups is their fields of membership. Most firefighter CUs represent a single employee group, while most automotive CUs are now community CUs. Firefighter CUs tend to have a much higher savings to member ratio. This puts a heavy focus on lending, investment programs and member education. The firefighter CUs place a heavy emphasis on networking with other firefighter CUs thus their current program is heavily directed toward group discussion and exchange of information. As a result, the number of outside speakers is minimal and focused to their exact needs. Bill Rogers CEO William Rogers & Associates, Inc. St. Louis, Mo.