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FLINT, Mich. – Two trade groups representing automotive and firefighter credit unions are calling off their three-year-old experiment to hold joint annual meetings. While the original concept was seen as a novel means of cutting hotel and meeting expense, the interests of the two groups-the Combined Council of Automotive Credit Unions and the National Firefighters CU Conference – proved too divergent, said association executives. Effective in 2006, the two groups will convene in separate locations reportedly in San Diego for their annual meetings, but the gathering this year of the two will be in the same hotel – Registry Resort in Naples, Fla. Oct. 5-8 -though there are no plans for combined sessions or sharing the exhibit hall, speakers or receptions. When it was first tried in 2002 in New Orleans, some members of both groups said they kind of liked the idea of joining up for breakfast or teeing up on the golf course. But the meeting organizers found it hard to put together programs which held the interest of both groups, explained Linda Bikoff, head of Support Processes Corp, a Washington, D.C. meeting planner. She was joined by 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 and concerns as compared to other CUs. Meanwhile, many in the automotive group have been moving toward community charters and a diluted membership. “From all indications we are expecting a good turnout for our group at this year’s meeting,” forecast James Carson, representing the Combined Council and also president of ABD FCU in Warren and of the Council of Daimler Chrysler CUs. Carson said he was still holding out hope perhaps in future years the two groups might rejoin, but for the time being CCACU was moving ahead with its October program having hired Fox World Travel of Oshkosh, Wis. to handle meeting arrangements. Bikoff and Rogers gave up the Combined Council as a conference client last year but retain handling arrangements for Firefighters meetings. “We resigned on good terms with the Combined Council and wish them continued success,” said Bikoff. Since 2002 in New Orleans, joint meetings with the Firefighters have been held in Scottsdale, Ariz. and Las Vegas. For his part, the conference coordinator for the Combined Council, Leroy Nesbit Jr., who also is president of the Council of GM Credit Unions, lauded Bikoff and Rogers for performing planner duties “for eight good years.” Bikoff said the groups would have split this year but “because of contracts with the hotel” on room fulfillment the organizations agreed to stay together but meet separately. On its program-its 24th annual and titled “Route 66-Credit Union Road to Success” – the Combined Council lists among its speakers: Brad Meyer, senior executive consultant, Callahan and Associates; Pete Crear, president/CEO World Council of Credit Unions; William Donovan, senior vice president and legal counsel for NAFCU; and Larry Blanchard, senior vice president/legislative and corporate affairs, of CUNA Mutual. Among the motivational speakers are Lila Lipscomb, featured in the Michael Moore film, “Fahrenheit 911.” For its part, the Firefighters, holding its 7th annual conference, list Cynthia Grow, executive vice president, DEI Corp.; Bruce Geiger, senior manager of sales and marketing communications for CUNA Mutual Group; and Richard Woods of CastleGarde Inc. among others. Its sponsor/exhibitors include: Allied Solutions, CU National Mortgage, DEI, CUNA Mutual, CastleGarde, Real Time Kiosks and Open Solutions. Nesbit, the conference coordinator for the Combined Council, noted the CCACU “has a long and proud tradition of supporting” CUs in the automotive industry as well as aerospace. “We have been strong partners with CUNA, NAFCU, and NCUA on the national legislative and regulatory agenda,” said Nesbit, who also is a director of Dort FCU here. In addition to GM and Daimler Chrysler, the Combined Council includes the Council of Ford Credit Unions, headed by its president, Shirley Meyer, and the Council of International Credit Unions headed by its president, Jerry Walters. It was noted that automotive CUs have been meeting as a “combined” group for 24 years. Their first meeting together in the Midwest was reportedly a coincidence when the GM Council was convening at the same time as the Ford Council. “From that meeting the councils decided they would benefit by meeting once a year as a combined effort but holding separate business meetings,” said Bikoff. [email protected]

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