YPSILANTI, Mich. -- The merger of Automotive FCU here with MPG Community CU created a community-based credit union with a name that keeps its history intact while giving it mileage for future growth: Community Driven CU.
Community Driven CU's President/CEO Kevin Finneran told Credit Union Times that following a brief ribbon cutting celebration on Memorial Day weekend, a special grand opening event in June is planned to introduce the new CU name and expanded services to both its current and potential members.
Automotive FCU was originally organized in 1965 for Ford Motor Co. employees. The merger combined Automotive FCU's $58 million in assets and 11,600 members with MPG Community CU's $4 million and 1,500 members. Now, the new Community Driven CU is able to serve any person residing, working, worshipping or attending school in Washtenaw and Macomb counties.
For its inspired name, Finneran didn't hire an expensive branding company. "We wanted to keep the auto industry name," Finneran explained. "And we thought it up ourselves by polling our staff and putting together a list of possible names. Then we went through the lawyers to secure permission and rights and that was that."
Tough times have set in with the auto industry, Finneran admitted. The continued job losses at Ford Motor prompted Automotive FCU to seek a community charter--but it found that merging with a state-chartered credit union proved to be an easier path than seeking a federal charter expansion. Finneran credited the less restrictive provisions in the revamped Michigan Credit Union Act for making the choice a no-brainer.
"Ford continued to close plants, and a lot of our members were moving away. Meanwhile, loan demand has continued to decrease," Finneran said. "Our membership is narrowing and more members are likely to relocate as Ford shuts down more plants--the latest scheduled to close is Utica, which will shutter this year--so we realized that we needed to diversify, and fast." He said the community charter would enable the CU to serve a broader membership.
The economic slowdown has hit the auto industry pretty hard, Finneran said. Piggybacking on the housing slump, demand for new cars and trucks is down some 7%. "Even if you're not directly related to the auto industry you are affected. The bigger worry is that so many people thought we could bounce back and they held on as long as they could. These jobs are gone now and we need to find out what will replace them."