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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – When you try to picture Dan Balagna retiring at the end of the year, don’t visualize a guy driving his Yamaha Venture Royale, 1,300-cc touring motorcycle off in to the sunset. Never mind that the 59-year old president/CEO of Service Centers Corp., the first shared branching network in the U.S., has driven the motorcycle to almost every state, including Alaska which he rode to with his wife Jean on their 30th anniversary, Balagna has other plans for when he retires at the end of the year from SCC, like spending more time restoring and showing classic cars such as his fully-restored 1957 Ford Thunderbird. Or spending the summers with his wife Jean of 41 years in their newly purchased “fifth wheel” camping trailer which they plan to keep parked near their son’s house on Lake Huron on Saginaw Bay in Michigan and having more time to visit with their other three children and seven grandchildren. Balagna’s been in countdown mode since June when he first announced his plans to retire from SCC after 22 years as the president and chief executive officer of the CUSO and previously wholly-owned subsidiary of CO-OP Network. SCC merged with CO-OP Network last year. The combined entity is now called CU Cooperatives Systems Inc. It has two operating units, one each for EFT and shared branching. His official last day with SCC is Dec. 31, but Balagna’s “real” last day will be Dec. 10. “It’s all gone so fast,” he says. At press time, Balagna said SCC had not announced his successor and that SCC “is still formulating its succession plan and exploring its options that include determining whether it will fill the position internally with someone from inside the organization, or externally.” The SCC Board had recently completed a planning conference to implement a formal search process. In the interim until a permanent successor is named, Executive Vice President Kenneth Sucher will be named acting president effective Nov. 16. Balagna will continue as CEO until the end of 2003 and will work concurrently with the SCC Board as part of the CUSOs’ succession planning. All in all, says Balagna reflecting on the more than two decades he’s spent with SCC, “it’s been quite a ride.” Especially, he adds, if you consider that none of it would have happened if he hadn’t, in 1963 at the ripe old age of 19, moved his family after a short stay in Southern California back to Michigan mistakenly thinking he’d gotten a head teller job he’d interviewed for at Dearborn FCU, which is now called Dearborn Financial CU. About two months later, a position opened up at the Michigan Credit Union League in their auditing services department. Balagna started with the League in January 1964 as a junior auditor and continued to work in their auditing division for 12 years, eventually becoming the director of the division. In 1976, Balagna was named director of financial and chief financial officer of the MCUL In October 1981, he became SCC’s first president/CEO, and in December 2003 he’ll retire from that position. Chartered in 1975 by the CEOs of five credit unions – Dearborn FCU, Detroit Teachers CU (now called Michigan First CU), Ferndale Co-op CU (now called Credit Union ONE), Telephone Employees CU (now called Telcom CU), and Wayne Out-County Teachers CU (now called Michigan Educational CU)-SCC currently serves over 350 credit unions around the U.S. with shared branching and CO-OP Network EFT support services. SCC also supports other shared service centers in various states such as FSCC in California and CUSC in Georgia and provides gateway services to CU Service Centers, an international shared branching network which SCC is an equal owner in. “We (SCC) were a CUSO before NCUA knew about CUSOs,” Balagna says recalling that the founding of SCC was the result of a study the Michigan League once did to assess the future of the financial delivery system. That study, said Balagna, predicted there would be a checkless and cashless society by the 1980s and credit unions would be behind the curve in operating in that environment. ATMs and EFT were just beginning to emerge, he said, and most credit unions only had one branch. “So we came up with the idea of sharing a facility,” said Balagna, noting that the idea really belonged to Don McKinnon, former manager of Dearborn. Thinking back on all the people he’s had the benefit to work with over his credit union career, Balagna says he was “very lucky to be able to grow up and be surrounded by so many creative credit union CEOs. “I’m fortunate to have had so many mentors. There was a lot of sharing of ideas and excitement in our sincere desire to see our credit union colleagues succeed,” he says. Balagna admits that if someone had asked him when he was 19 and started working at the Michigan League if he ever thought he’s spend the next 40 years working in the credit union industry – including serving 14 years on the NACUSO Board, almost four years as the association chairman – he would have told them they were dreaming. He says he didn’t have any “solid career goals” when he first started out. Well maybe he had just one. Balagna is a fan of rhythm and blues performer Bob Seegar – he has most of his albums and has attended many of his concerts – and he admits that if he were reincarnated he’d want to come back as a rock star. The only problem with that, Balagna says, is he doesn’t play an instrument. “It’s been a lot of fun. There’s been a lot of cooperation and innovation I’ve been fortunate to witness and participate in,” he says. – [email protected]

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