FLINT, Mich. – Two trade groups representing automotive andfirefighter credit unions are calling off their three-year-oldexperiment to hold joint annual meetings. While the originalconcept was seen as a novel means of cutting hotel and meetingexpense, the interests of the two groups-the Combined Council ofAutomotive Credit Unions and the National Firefighters CUConference – proved too divergent, said association executives.Effective in 2006, the two groups will convene in separatelocations reportedly in San Diego for their annual meetings, butthe gathering this year of the two will be in the same hotel –Registry Resort in Naples, Fla. Oct. 5-8 -though there are no plansfor combined sessions or sharing the exhibit hall, speakers orreceptions. When it was first tried in 2002 in New Orleans, somemembers of both groups said they kind of liked the idea of joiningup for breakfast or teeing up on the golf course. But the meetingorganizers found it hard to put together programs which held theinterest of both groups, explained Linda Bikoff, head of SupportProcesses Corp, a Washington, D.C. meeting planner. She was joinedby William Rogers, head of a St. Louis firm bearing his name.Bikoff said firefighter CUs, many with their original sponsors and“with their close brethren culture,” have unique problems andconcerns as compared to other CUs. Meanwhile, many in theautomotive group have been moving toward community charters and adiluted membership. “From all indications we are expecting a goodturnout for our group at this year's meeting,” forecast JamesCarson, representing the Combined Council and also president of ABDFCU in Warren and of the Council of Daimler Chrysler CUs. Carsonsaid he was still holding out hope perhaps in future years the twogroups might rejoin, but for the time being CCACU was moving aheadwith its October program having hired Fox World Travel of Oshkosh,Wis. to handle meeting arrangements. Bikoff and Rogers gave up theCombined Council as a conference client last year but retainhandling arrangements for Firefighters meetings. “We resigned ongood terms with the Combined Council and wish them continuedsuccess,” said Bikoff. Since 2002 in New Orleans, joint meetingswith the Firefighters have been held in Scottsdale, Ariz. and LasVegas. For his part, the conference coordinator for the CombinedCouncil, Leroy Nesbit Jr., who also is president of the Council ofGM Credit Unions, lauded Bikoff and Rogers for performing plannerduties “for eight good years.” Bikoff said the groups would havesplit this year but “because of contracts with the hotel” on roomfulfillment the organizations agreed to stay together but meetseparately. On its program-its 24th annual and titled “Route66-Credit Union Road to Success” – the Combined Council lists amongits speakers: Brad Meyer, senior executive consultant, Callahan andAssociates; Pete Crear, president/CEO World Council of CreditUnions; William Donovan, senior vice president and legal counselfor NAFCU; and Larry Blanchard, senior vice president/legislativeand corporate affairs, of CUNA Mutual. Among the motivationalspeakers are Lila Lipscomb, featured in the Michael Moore film,“Fahrenheit 911.” For its part, the Firefighters, holding its 7thannual conference, list Cynthia Grow, executive vice president, DEICorp.; Bruce Geiger, senior manager of sales and marketingcommunications for CUNA Mutual Group; and Richard Woods ofCastleGarde Inc. among others. Its sponsor/exhibitors include:Allied Solutions, CU National Mortgage, DEI, CUNA Mutual,CastleGarde, Real Time Kiosks and Open Solutions. Nesbit, theconference coordinator for the Combined Council, noted the CCACU“has a long and proud tradition of supporting” CUs in theautomotive industry as well as aerospace. “We have been strongpartners with CUNA, NAFCU, and NCUA on the national legislative andregulatory agenda,” said Nesbit, who also is a director of Dort FCUhere. In addition to GM and Daimler Chrysler, the Combined Councilincludes the Council of Ford Credit Unions, headed by itspresident, Shirley Meyer, and the Council of International CreditUnions headed by its president, Jerry Walters. It was noted thatautomotive CUs have been meeting as a “combined” group for 24years. Their first meeting together in the Midwest was reportedly acoincidence when the GM Council was convening at the same time asthe Ford Council. “From that meeting the councils decided theywould benefit by meeting once a year as a combined effort butholding separate business meetings,” said [email protected]

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