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Conferences·Crash·Ideas·Innovation·Meetups·Professional Development

Connecting passion with member service at Crash Idaho 2016

If credit union members experienced a noticeable uptick in the service they received on Monday, May 16, 2016, leaders from Climb Idaho might be able to explain why.

“Nothing stokes the passion and enthusiasm for member service and the credit union movement like a crash event. It’s just that simple,” said Jake Denning, chair of Climb Idaho and LPL Financial Advisor with Beehive Credit Union. “Once you connect your career with the fundamental principles of financial cooperatives, your mission becomes clear and your passion becomes palpable.”

Crash Idaho brought 21 representatives from 11 of the state’s credit unions to “respectfully disrupt” the Annual Meeting with the primary goals of education and networking, and according to the crashers, the event was wildly successful.

“As a Millennial in the credit union movement, I found purpose in a cause bigger than myself at Crash ICUL,” said Brandon Allen, crasher and branch manager with Clarity Credit Union. “It allowed me to see why Credit Unions are key to the financial success in any community.”

“For me, Crash was a three-day adventure, where we were given opportunities to network, brainstorm, spread passion, and learn from some of the best and most influential people,” said Paul Lucariello, vice chair of Climb Idaho and regional manager with Pioneer Credit Union. “It took my love for credit unions and the movement to the next level. We were able to take ideas from that week to not only enhance Climb but to also start locally with our individual credit union so we can get our young professionals involved in the movement with passion and motivation.”

Melissa Thometz, branch manager with CapEd Credit Union, listens as Shane Berger, president and CEO of Beehive Credit Union, answers questions at the CEO Roundtable crash event.

“As a branch manager who is tasked with meeting loan and account goals, I can never forget what’s most important – making a difference in our members’ lives,” said Melissa Thometz, crasher and branch manager with CapEd Credit Union. “It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, but our members matter more than any task or goal.”

Thometz, who also represented Idaho at Crash the GAC 2016, said her recent crash experiences have helped clarify and solidify the cooperative nature of the credit union movement.

“Despite my knowledge about the cooperative principles, I still saw other CUs as competition,” she said. “Crash drove home the point that we aren’t competing with each other, but we should be supporting one another.”

One of the primary goals of all crash events is to strengthen the industry’s professional network across Idaho, which serves two core purposes: leadership development and retention of top talent. To wit, the annual turnover rate of those involved in crash events since the inception of Climb Idaho – the group responsible for hosting the event – is a mere 4 percent.

“I have never attended a professional event more beneficial in networking than the league meetings,” said Cameron Topliff, branch manager at ISU Credit Union. “The events of the league meeting helped me develop a deeper connection with the credit union movement.”

While the networking opportunities and cooperative movement themes were strong, the crash program specifically focused on leadership development, storytelling and the central role of member service in the movement.

“I loved hearing the crashers tell stories of how CUs are helping members overcome financial hardship,” said Nick Fugal, executive committee member and treasurer with Climb Idaho. “I enjoyed the passion the crashers had for the movement and their motivation to further our cause!”

For 2017 and beyond, the expectations and results from Climb Idaho events will only strengthen.

Crash Idaho 2016 attendees along with James Marshall, cooperative trust manager with Filene Research Institute.

“We have an incredible group of developing leaders, but we’re only beginning to scratch the surface in terms of what we can do for the movement and, most importantly, for our members,” said Brian Rich, executive committee member and secretary with Climb Idaho. “By retaining top talent and focusing the passion and drive of Idaho’s most ambitious young leaders, we’re securing the future of our industry and guaranteeing our state’s credit union members will enjoy the greatest member experience we can offer.”

Climb Idaho – created in 2014 – enlisted the help of Filene Research Institute to create the crash program for the 20 crashers. James Marshall, cooperative trust manager, emceed the event and oversaw the education/training components of the crash.

“When it comes to crash events, there’s really only one person in the country to seek out,” Denning said. “James has hosted dozens of crash events and with Climb Idaho still in its early years, we knew his expertise would be invaluable in helping build our statewide movement.”

Marshall said he was impressed with what he saw from Climb Idaho and expects member benefits to grow from the involvement.

“Idaho credit unions are in wonderful hands; it was fantastic to see the passion, enthusiasm and all round determination of the Idaho Crashers to develop credit unions,” he said. “Over the course of the few days we spent together, it was evident that this group has a commitment to not only Idaho credit unions, but Idaho credit union members.”

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