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MARSHALLVILLE, Ga. – Ed “Buck” Levins isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet, nearly a month after leaving his post as president/CEO of Robins Federal Credit Union. For reasons still not known, the credit union’s board of directors chose not to renew Levins’ contract for 2004, replacing him with former executive vice president John Ruffin. Levins had been with the credit union since 1961 and served as president/CEO since 1987. Emotionally and mentally, he’s starting to move on, emphasizing that he’s not retired, and at age 62 and “in good health,” he looks forward to continuing his place in the movement. “I’m not ruling anything out,” Levins said. “With 42 years of experience, I’ve got something to offer.” Indeed, Levins said he’s already discussed opportunities with three credit union organizations – he would not specifically say whether they are leagues, vendors or other credit unions. He’s lived in Middle Georgia all his life but with a son enrolled in law school at the University of Georgia in Athens and a stepson working in construction in Warner Robins, his ties to the area are not as hard and fast. He also has three grandchildren here but visits back home are doable. “For the first time in my life, I am in a position to relocate,” Levins said. “I’m looking for an exciting challenge.” Excitement would be key given Levins’ experience, which encompasses 20 years with state organizations including chairman of the Georgia Credit Union League, Georgia Central Credit Union and the Georgia Credit Union Acceptance Board. He also served 10 years with CUNA including as chairman during the heady days of the CU Campaign for Consumer Choice, a grassroots endeavor that led to credit unions having the go-ahead to expand their fields of membership under the passage of the historical CU Membership Access Act of 1998. Levins discussed few details about Robins FCU’s decision to let him go, only saying that he got a memo on Dec. 5 notifying him that Dec. 31 would be his last day with no further explanation why. “I can tell you that I’m proud of my record with the credit union,” Levins said. “I was surprised by it all.” Rather than dwell on speculations, he chooses instead, to focus on the vitality the credit union amassed during his 16-year tenure at the helm. With $800 million in assets, Robins FCU is the largest federal CU in the state and fourth overall. “There’s been a lot of success through a series of changes,” Levins explained. “We went from Robins Air Force Base being the bread and butter of the credit union’s membership – it still is – to a community charter in 2001,” due to base downsizing and the threat of closure. That charter opened membership up to 16 counties, saw four new branches built and made 700,000 residents eligible to join Robins FCU. “You have to understand that throughout my life, I’ve always been an advocate for change,” Levins said. “I was at CUNA when it went through the biggest reorganizations in its history and I was one of its strongest advocates.” Levins said that credit unions that lull into a false sense of security by not acknowledging the changes that are going on particularly with sponsor companies, are doomed to fail. “You have to change with the times, you have to offer members the services they ask for or they’ll pack their bags and go somewhere,” Levins said. Indeed, the advent of Internet banking has been a boon for Robins FCU, Levins said more than 40,000 of its 800,000 members signed on since its launch in 2001. Roughly 6,000 members have requested e-statements since that program began in June 2003. “My son (in law school) has all of his accounts at the credit union and he hasn’t been in a physical branch in over two years,” Levins pointed out. “Some members don’t need or want the face-to-face service but you have to acknowledge those that do want that interaction.” Meanwhile, Levins said his wife Betty is supportive of him, describing her “just as much a credit union person as I am.” “I’ve grown up and matured in the movement,” Levins said. “I’ve gotten to know so many people and formed many bonds. I would like to continue on.” Buck Levins can be reached at (478) 967-2888 or [email protected] [email protected]om

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