LAS VEGAS – Despite Detroit's problems, CU Direct Corp., owner of the California-based and industry-run indirect loan platform, is enjoying a robust year racking up loan gains which could see a 30% jump over 2004, shareholders were told at the annual meeting. Indeed, Tony Boutelle, the president and CEO, said the co-op firm's Credit Union Direct Lending program based out of Rancho Cucamonga posted "a record monthly total of $1.25 billion in May." Barring any turndown, the remaining months look just as good with total loan volume projected to exceed the $10 billion mark of 2004. The upsurge in volume is due, in part, he explained, to the increase in dealers and participating CUs following CU Direct's merger last October with Indirect Services Inc., a Salt Lake firm. The combined firm now has more than 511 CUs, 6,700 dealers and is in 38 states managed by 10 separate business units with regional directors. Diana Dykstra, outgoing CU Direct chairman and president/CEO of San Francisco Fire CU, said "we could have hardly imagined" the growth that has taken place in CU Direct from its humble beginnings "when I went around and got kicked out of car dealers with our first dumb terminal." After lots of persuading and persistence, a handful of California dealers caught on to the advantage of the system, she said, and the rest is history. In his remarks, Boutelle also listed a series of new software and Web products being pitched now to dealers and CUs to allow further CU gains in the indirect market. They include CUDL3 technology, providing dealers with instant loan updates, expanded electronic communication with CUs and integration of "DecisionApp" clients, a system used by the old ISI network. In addition, Boutelle cited new computer-based training programs called CUDL University with a curriculum offering a full range of issues pertaining to indirect lending. The CU Direct president also said the market remains highly competitive with strong domination by banks and captive firms. Still, Boutelle urged more CUs outside of the system to consider joining CUDL "to be an owner rather than a renter" in a reference to bank-run and captive finance firms. [email protected]

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