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Check printer Deluxe to close three plants

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/8/08)--Check printer Deluxe Corp. says it will close three manufacturing plants and a call center as a result of the slowing economy. The St. Paul, Minn.-based company also announced Wednesday it had reduced its third-quarter earnings forecast and adjusted its outlook for 2008 to include restructuring and other one-time changes (StarTribune.com and Winston-Salem Journal Sept. 4). It will close plants in Greensboro, N.C.; North Wales, Pa.; and Thorofare, N.J., and its call center in Thorofare. About 570 positions would be terminated by the end of the month. In July Deluxe reported a 9% drop in second-quarter net income. The announcement did not address the increasing trend toward consumers paying bills electronically at the expense of writing checks.

Three leaders honored at Texas leadership conference

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SAN ANTONIO (9/8/08)--Three Texas credit union leaders were honored with awards at the Texas Credit Union League's Leadership Conference & Visionary Expo, held last week in San Antonio (LoneStar Leaguer Sept. 5). Professional of the Year Award went to Michael Brown, president of JSC FCU, Houston, for more than 20 years. During his tenure, the credit union has grown to more than $1 billion assets from $35 million. He is the current president of the Houston Chapter of Credit Unions and past president of the Credit Union Managers Association of Southeast Texas. Named Volunteer of the Year was Joyce Gibson, who has served as board member of City CU, Dallas, since 1984. She has held positions including that of board chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer, and has chaired numerous committees. Gibson currently chairs the credit union's political action committee. Sherry Roman was presented the Small Credit Union Achiever award. Roman has been with T & P FCU, Big Spring, for 25 years and is active in the Big Spring Chapter of Credit Unions. She has held leadership roles, including president, secretary/treasurer, and TCUL PAC coordinator. She chairs the Small Credit Union Committee.

CUs not in the product business--leadership speaker

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/8/08)--"We're not in the product business. We are in the financial education and dream fulfillment business," author Barbara Sanfilippo told attendees Thursday at the Texas Credit Union League Leadership Conference & Visionary Expo in San Antonio. Before members will become advocates for credit unions, credit unions must take their focus off selling products and on making an emotional connection with their members, said Sanfilippo, the conference opening speaker (LoneStar Leaguer Sept. 5). Sanfilippo noted a "huge societal problem," with personal debt up and savings down. Credit unions can help elevate members' lives, she said, but many members are "disengaged and disconnected because they don't view their credit union as a key partner who is genuinely interested in their future well-being." Members are focused on their family, their personal vulnerabilities and their aspirations. "That's where our focus should also be," she said. She outlined three emotional drivers of the member relationship most highly correlated with advocacy:
* "My credit union understands my financial goals"; * "Employees provide advice to improve my financial well-being"; and * "My credit union values my business."
Often employees are present physically but have checked out of the job mentally, she said, adding, "Employees should be a walking billboard for your organization." To engage staff, she suggested the credit union:
*Integrate staff into the credit union's brand; * Train them on how to sell to members' dreams and aspirations; * Offer a basic financial literacy class for all staff to help them embrace and practice financial fitness; and * Instill a successful mindset by teaching staff how to dream bigger, create wealth and be better stewards of their money.
"If your employees feel the credit union has played a role in improving their lives, then they will in turn be more inclined to sing your praises," she concluded.

California CUs see slight growth in second quarter

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (9/8/08)--Credit unions in California experienced slight growth in total assets, loans, shares and capital during the 12-month period ended June 30, announced the California Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). They also experienced higher delinquencies. The state regulator's quarterly report, released Thursday, said assets for credit unions in the state were up 3.5%--to $73.3 billion from the $70.8 billion reported for the same period ended on June 30, 2007. Loans and shares each rose 2.5% during second quarter 2008. Loans were up to $51.8 billion from $50.6 billion, while shares grew to $61.6 billion from $60.1 billion. Members' equity declined 1.7%, to $7.4 billion from $7.5 billion. DFI said this caused credit unions' overall capital to asset ratio to decrease to 10.12% from mid-2007's 10.66%. The allowance for loan losses grew 68%, to $519 million from $309 million. The number of credit unions declined 4.5%--to 193 from 202. Net margin to average assets decreased 12.5% to 3.51% from 4.01% at the end of second quarter 2007. The provision for loan losses more than doubled to $349.6 million from $143.8 million. For the first six months of 2008, net income declined from $225 million in 2007 to a net loss of $132.9 million--a 159% drop of $357.9 million. Delinquent loans for credit unions in the state were up 88.8%--to $531.2 million from $281.3 million, an increase of $249.8 million. How do California's banks compare? State-chartered commercial banks reported $406.7 million in losses--off $1.7 billion or 130.9% from the $1.3 billion in net income they reported for the period in 2007. DFI said this was partly due to a 619.6% increase in loan loss provisions--to $1.2 billion from $163.1 million last year. Loan loss reserves for commercial banks were up 68% but noncurrent loans more than doubled to $3.3 billion from $853.8 million. That caused reserve coverage of noncurrent loans to decrease to 75.60% from 205.53%. Other real estate owned also more than doubled to $255.3 million from $43.1 million. DFI said the banks' assets were up 7.4% to $230.5 billion and loans were up 10.4%. Deposit growth increased 4.3% to $158.7 billion. That caused the loan to deposit ratio to increase to 105.73% from 99.89% for the period in 2007. Equity capital to total asset ratio also declined to 11.69% from 13% for the banks, said the regulator. More information can be found on the financial statistics page of the agency's website. Use the link.

Youth Week theme The Magic of Saving

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MADISON, Wis. (9/8/08)--Based on feedback from more than 700 credit union staff and 50 youth, the winning theme for National Credit Union Youth Week 2009 is “The Magic of Saving.” National Credit Union Youth Week will be celebrated April 19-25, 2009. The voting results are:
* 36%--The Magic of Saving; * 29%--My Credit Union, My Future; * 13%--Be a Savings Sleuth; * 12%--Soar Into Savings; and * 10%--Count on Your Credit Union.
More than half the youth polled picked "The Magic of Saving." Youth age 12 and under liked this theme best. While 26% liked "My Credit Union, My Future," many children age 8 and under didn't understand this theme. The theme will be publicly announced in coming weeks, with a theme design to come in October. The winning theme was suggested by three credit unions. Sharon Dufour at Luso FCU, Ludlow, Mass., first sent in the theme two years ago, giving credit to her then-10-year-old son. Ginger Baehr with Cutting Edge FCU, Milwaukie, Ore., also suggested the theme. This year, David Rice and Carol Summers with Morgantown (W.Va.) AES FCU offered a similar theme, “We'll put the magic back into your savings.” Credit unions looking to start or expand a youth program in 2009 might be interested in the just-published Model Youth Program Guide. The guide is a toolbox of research, resources, samples, and checklists. It includes a sample job description for student-run branch coordinator. For more information, use the link.

Membership growth series Sonoma County Grange CU

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. (9/8/08)--Sonoma County Grange CU CEO Pamela McNatt has worked in the credit union industry for many years, and she embraces ‘old-fashioned’ credit union culture. As such, she wants her credit union to experience “slow, steady growth. I refuse to lose sight of service,” she told News Now. This is the ninth installment of News Now's Membership Growth interviews with fast credit union growers. The series is a part of an initiative of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Membership Growth Task Force. It focuses on fast "organic" membership growth, not growth by merger or indirect loans. The task force, chaired by Dick Ensweiler, president of the Texas Credit Union League, was convened at the request of CUNA's Immediate Past Board Chair Allan Kemp McMorris. Its purpose is to investigate, report on, and encourage credit unions to embrace opportunities, techniques and processes that will increase credit unions' membership retention and growth. McNatt moved to the North Bay area of California in January 2007 to work as CEO for Sonoma County Grange CU and get back to her “credit union roots.” When McNatt started at the credit union, she added new computers, a new server and intranet, a website and online banking. She introduced a certificates of deposit program to “bring back the older members” who live off interest income. The program requires $250 minimum balances for children under 18. As a result of the changes, Sonoma increased member accounts by 18% from 2006 to 2007 and added $3 million in assets. It increased its youth agricultural loans to $50,000 this year from $19,000 in 2006. “It’s a big improvement,” McNatt said. The $35 million-asset Sonoma County Grange CU serves an agricultural community--Sonoma County--that offers dairy, organic, berry, flower and apple farms. Sonoma County was originated to serve the people of the Sonoma County granges. The community still has 14 grange halls. The credit union’s original board included members representing each hall. The credit union’s members who were part of the grange are very loyal. “It’s a unique community,” she said. “There’s a lot of camaraderie.” The credit union is growing membership from helping youth. They come to the credit union for loans to buy livestock and “get twice what they put in” once the animals are sold, McNatt said. The children of Sonoma County grew up with farms and are extremely hardworking. Recently, two 17-year-old boys came to Sonoma County for a loan to buy a truck for their farm. One of the boy’s parents was not eligible to co-sign on the loan, so they got a neighbor to help, McNatt said. “We try to help kids establish themselves,” she said. “They’re pretty savvy.” Sonoma doesn’t charge fees by member demand, she said. “We have to be upfront and simple. Do what we say, and say what we do.” Sonoma has six employees and one branch. “Some of us are refugees from working 12-hour days,” she said. “We work 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we take a half hour for lunch. We come in and help people all day long.” The credit union doesn’t pay top salaries, but it offers an environment of “people helping people” and good benefits. One of the credit union’s challenges is retaining share base with an aging membership. “When Dad passes away, kids don’t keep money with the credit union,” she said. To keep its membership base strong, Sonoma County is getting to know its members. Extra video screen monitors showing who walks in the front door were recently installed so the staff is prepared to greet members when they come in. The credit union also has an electric fireplace in the lobby so members can gather and chat. “It’s cozy for winter,” McNatt said. In the future, Sonoma County would like to:
* Provide seminars about trust accounts; * Offer more scholarships. “We all hit the same kids--the high achievers,” McNatt said. She’d like to blanket the area with the help of other farm agencies to broaden the awards; * Become more technologically compliant. “We’re not in a great location,” she said. “We want to be able to get members to access us online.” * Team up with 4-H, the Farm Bureau, and other agricultural organizations; and * Implement mobile branching. A recreational vehicle could be used to stop at grange halls to serve members.
Sonoma has been approached several times for mergers because of its strong real estate portfolio, but it’s not interested. “We have no desire to be the biggest credit union in town,” McNatt said. “Just the best.” Anyone who wants to contact the CUNA Membership Growth Task Force can e-mail the account established for this purpose at cunamgtf@cuna.coop.

N.J. league CUs donate for troops comfort

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HIGHSTOWN, N.J. (9/8/08)--The New Jersey Credit Union League and a
Click to view larger imageSoldiers from the 2-113 INF, 50th IBCT, NJ ARNG, prepare to deploy to Iraq from Fort Bliss, Texas. Each soldier received a comfy travel pillow (see packs in foreground) courtesy of Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon's Special Friends at the New Jersey Credit Union League.
group of credit unions in the state donated more 167 boxes of flight pillows to New Jersey National Guard troops as part of their partnership with Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon. The donation of more than $20,000 provided flight pillows to every soldier in the 50th IBCT for the 23-hour flight to Iraq. More than 3,000 departing soldiers received a pillow. The rest of the pillows were given to overseas military hospitals in Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany. Thanks to Unilever, the pillows were delivered to the soldiers in Fort Bliss, Texas, before they departed on their flight, the league said. The deployment is the largest of New Jersey civil troops since World War II. These credit unions participated in the effort:
* Deepwater FCU, Deepwater; * FAA Eastern Region FCU, Clark; * MidState FCU, Carteret; * Paragon FCU, Montvale; * Parlin DuPont FCU, Parlin; * Unilever FCU, Englewood Cliffs; * United Teletech Financial FCU, Tinton Falls; and * West Orange Municipal FCU, West Orange.
Click to view larger imageSoldiers from the 50th IBCT snooze on the long flight to the Middle East and are made more comfortable with pillows donated by the New Jersey Credit Union League and participating member credit unions. (Photos provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League)
"The credit union philosophy is 'people helping people,' and most credit unions are widely involved in the communities they serve," said Candice Areia, league director of marketing and communications and leader of the project. "What the New Jersey Credit Union League has done not only provides comfort for a very long flight, but also shows every single soldier that their well being is important to all the citizens of New Jersey," said Alan Krutchkoff, president, Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon. "It was an incredible donation." For more information on the program, use the links.

CUs on the Tube Ent FCUs podcasts focus on education

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (9/8/08)--Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo.,
Click to view larger imageJandee Vandenburg (left), Ent FCU’s lending center supervisor and official podcast narrator; Glenn Greenwood (center), Ent’s media design manager and podcast manager; and Jim Moore, Ent’s senior vice president of corporate communication, record a podcast on National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. The podcast will be available later this month. (Photo provided by Ent FCU)
has launched a free financial education podcast series on its website, Ent.com. The podcasts provide information on avoiding foreclosure and understanding credit unions. Future podcasts on National Credit Union Administration insurance questions and home-buying will be added in the future. The credit union hopes to produce a new podcast each month. More than 230 individuals have downloaded the podcasts, and more than 20 have subscribed to receive them as they become available. Ent has $2.5 million in assets. For more information, use the link.