Allegan Credit Union, a division of Ignite Credit Union, announces plans to merge with BlueOx Credit Union!
Battle Creek, MI - Ignite Credit Union and BlueOx Credit Union are excited to announce their plans to merge pending regulatory approval and a membership vote. If approved, the combined organization will operate under the unified brand name, Ignite Credit Union but would continue to keep their individual names. Under this model, BlueOx would become “BlueOx Credit Union, a Division of Ignite Credit Union.”
This model where each organization maintains its individual name was established in 2022, when Allegan Credit Union and Rivertown Credit Union merged. This collaborative concept allows the credit unions to ensure their rich histories and legacies continue to be honored.
Overall, the combined assets would be more than $376M dollars, serving more than 32,000+ members with 11 branches throughout Michigan.
Credit Union mergers remain a hot industry topic. In a financial services sector that is constantly shifting, and is highly regulated, it is becoming more difficult for smaller credit unions to compete at the same level as the bigger players. Industry wide there are more organizations pursuing merger strategies that include strategic mergers like this one. For many smaller credit unions left on their own, it is becoming increasingly challenging to offer the wide range of products and services that members want. Attracting new members and new employees in this competitive market is also becoming increasingly difficult. Becoming a larger credit union provides opportunities to leverage resources and position organizations for continued growth. In turn, this would result in being able to provide even more benefits to members in the form of more product and service access, and integrating new and robust technologies, while continuing to maintain their unique brand identity that focuses on delivering excellent service.
Both credit unions wanted to find a partner that matched their own passion, aligned closely with their own mission, and shared a dedication and loyalty to their team members, members, and community. Another amazing benefit of this partnership is that both credit unions are on the same core system, and combining the two organizations will cause minimal to no member disruptions.
“What better way to demonstrate the credit union industry’s commitment to serve than to partner with a like-minded organization,” commented Steven Cobb, President/CEO, BlueOx Credit Union, “We pride ourselves on helping our members and communities in every way possible and are constantly looking for ways to maximize that impact. We look forward to not only continuing that commitment through this partnership but to a brighter future together, serving more members.”
Recently completing a merger Kristopher Lewis, President/CEO of Ignite Credit Union, added, “Credit Unions continue to be a huge financial voice and advocate for the communities we serve. I am super excited about our partnership with BlueOx Credit Union and what it means for the future. Mergers like this, born out of the passion to serve more members and help more people, increase our voice and the impact we can make."
As member-owned cooperatives, and under the guidelines of the National Credit Union Association, full merger approval is contingent upon Ignite Credit Union membership approval. It is anticipated the entities would become one credit union sometime in mid-2024. As the merger process moves forward, both credit unions will provide information to their respective Memberships via their websites (www.ignitecreditunion.com and www.blueoxcu.org), and other applicable communication channels.
Ignite Credit Union
Ignite Credit Union is the recent culmination of Allegan Credit Union and Rivertown Community Federal Credit Union, two credit unions that formed a partnership to serve their members, employees, and communities more effectively. Both credit unions share blue-collar roots and believed that by joining together they could do more than either of them could do alone. Uniquely each credit union has maintained its individual brands under the umbrella credit union created in Ignite.
BlueOx Credit Union
Blue Ox’s story began in 1936 in Battle Creek, Michigan – Inspired by a small handful of educators from the Battle Creek School System. BlueOx’s original field of membership was limited to teachers, principals, supervisors, and superintendents of the Battle Creek School System. Today BlueOx Credit Union’s field of membership is open to the entire state of Michigan.
MEMBER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT DOES THIS ANNOUNCEMENT MEAN?
This exciting announcement means that Ignite Credit Union is moving forward with a proposed merger with BlueOx Credit Union. This merger represents a strategic partnership between two forward-thinking, healthy credit unions, for the benefit of members, employees, and the communities we serve.
WHO IS IGNITE CREDIT UNION?
Ignite Credit Union is an overarching brand that was created and houses the individual credit unions that we’ve merged with (i.e. Allegan Credit Union and Rivertown Credit Union). To learn more visit www.ignitecreditunion.com.
WHO IS BLUEOX CREDIT UNION?
BlueOx has a legacy of strength, power, and courage. Their story began in 1936 – Inspired by a small handful of educators from the Battle Creek School System, the Battle Creek Teachers Association Credit Union was born. BlueOx’s original field of membership was limited to teachers, principals, supervisors, and superintendents of the Battle Creek School System. Today BlueOx Credit Union’s field of membership is open to the entire state of Michigan. BlueOx’s mission is to provide quality financial services that will improve and make a positive impact on the lives of members, employees, and communities. They are committed to doing everything possible to expand financial freedom. They do that by offering innovative products and services, building a creative and inclusive team, and making a positive impact in the communities where they live and work. Their vision is to be the local financial institution of choice, powered by innovation, providing extraordinary personal service, and building relationships.
WHY WAS BLUEOX CHOSEN AS OUR MERGER PARTNER?
We wanted to find a partner that matched our passion, aligned closely with our mission, shares a dedication and loyalty to their membership and the communities they serve, and is similar in employee commitment. Both credit unions share a deep dedication to team members, members, and community, and share a common vision for the future of the combined credit union. Another amazing benefit of this partnership is that both credit unions are on the same core system, and combining our two organizations will cause minimal to no member disruptions.
WHAT DOES “STRATEGIC” MERGER MEAN?
Mergers can be initiated for many reasons. The primary reason for a strategic and/or collaborative merger is to better serve members by providing greater value than we would as separate organizations.
In this case, we are merging two healthy credit unions. The goal of both organizations is to build a combined entity that leverages best practices if/when possible and achieves greater economies of scale to ensure we can continue to offer the best service, products, and technologies to members.
Employees benefit from strategic mergers as well, from professional growth opportunities to establishing best practices, best systems, and best processes that help ensure employees have more resources available to do their jobs.
WHY DOES THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMEND THE MERGER?
Although mergers are not our primary growth strategy, we do have a formalized merger strategy as part of our overall business plan. Like our merger with Rivertown Credit Union merging with BlueOx would provide our two organizations with the opportunity to implement best practices to achieve more positive member, employee, and community impact and value. As a result of this partnership, we would grow our branch network to 11 branches across Michigan. This partnership would give us the ability to be more responsive to members and financial needs in a highly competitive financial services sector that continues to evolve rapidly.
DO BOTH CREDIT UNIONS SUPPORT THIS MERGER?
Absolutely. The boards of both credit unions approved the proposed merger unanimously and are very excited about this merger with the growth and benefits it brings to our members, employees, and communities.
WHAT WOULD THIS PARTNERSHIP DO FOR THE CREDIT UNIONS?
Overall, our combined assets would be more than $376M, serving 32,000+ members with 11 branches in Michigan. With a competitive physical presence and our combined strengths in products, services, and technology offerings, we would be able to better serve our members and our communities.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BEING A LARGER CREDIT UNION?
Becoming a larger credit union would provide opportunities to leverage resources and position us for continued growth. In turn, this would result in being able to provide even more benefits to members in the form of more product and service access, and new and robust technologies and services, while continuing Ignite Credit Union’s ongoing community presence.
WHAT DOES THIS MERGER MEAN FOR MEMBERS?
The strategic merger between our two organizations would provide the opportunity to achieve more positive member impact and value such as:
- More Member Access
A larger branch footprint would allow us to have more impact on existing members. But bigger than that, through this partnership we’d gain more resources allowing us to serve more members and have a deeper impact in the communities we serve.
As a larger organization, we would achieve greater economies of scale which would allow us to offer an even more robust product and service line, reduce costs, and ultimately return more value to members.
- More responsive to evolving financial needs:
In a highly competitive financial services industry, combining our strengths would allow us to continue to enhance our product, service, and digital banking offerings.
- Enhanced electronic banking products:
This partnership would allow us to constantly assess and improve our technology solutions and make sure we’re providing “the best” digital banking solutions we can for members now and into the future.
- More branch locations:
Together we would have 11 branches to serve members.
- Same knowledgeable, friendly employees:
The same friendly staff at our branches would continue to be available to serve members.
WOULD MY ACCOUNTS AND RATES BE AFFECTED?
The rates on fixed rate loans and certificates would remain the same until the end of their existing terms. Other products would adjust as normal due to market conditions.
WOULD MY ACCOUNTS CONTINUE TO BE FEDERALLY INSURED?
Yes. Rest assured that your savings with the combined credit union will continue to be federally insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). Information regarding NCUA insurance, and a calculator to help determine your coverage, is available at www.mycreditunion.gov/estimator.
WOULD YOU CLOSE BRANCHES?
There are no plans for any branch closures. In fact, this merger would provide the opportunity to expand our branch locations and enhance our digital member experience. BlueOx branches would not be available to Ignite Credit Union members immediately. As the merger progresses, we would announce when these locations would be available for members.
WOULD I CONTINUE TO GET THE SAME SERVICE AND ATTENTION?
Yes. Both credit unions are committed to providing high levels of service for members and this would continue to be a focus for the combined credit union.
WOULD THE FIELD OF MEMBERSHIP CHANGE?
No. Today, both credit unions serve everyone who lives in the state of Michigan. This would remain the same for the combined organization.
WOULD THE CHANGE IN THE FIELD OF MEMBERSHIP AFFECT MY MEMBERSHIP?
All Ignite Credit Union members would automatically become members of the combined credit union. Once a member, always a member.
WOULD ANY EMPLOYEES LOSE THEIR JOBS AS THE RESULT OF THE MERGER?
No. Both credit unions recognize the importance of retaining talented and dedicated team members and that a successful merger is dependent on retaining that talent and leadership.
HOW WOULD THIS MERGER BENEFIT CREDIT UNION EMPLOYEES?
This partnership would provide employees with more career development opportunities and specialization; all while maintaining a positive culture that encourages teamwork and focuses on providing members with top-notch financial products and services.
WHAT WOULD OUR NAME BE?
The names of the individual brands we currently operate under (i.e. Allegan Credit Union and Rivertown Credit Union) would not change. And BlueOx Credit Union would continue to operate as BlueOx Credit Union once we merge.
WHO WOULD LEAD THE ORGANIZATION?
Kristopher Lewis, President/CEO of Ignite will be the CEO, and Steven Cobb, President/CEO of BlueOx will be the President of the new organization.
DO MEMBERS HAVE A SAY?
Yes. The proposed merger requires approval of a majority of the members of Ignite Credit Union who vote on the proposal. You will receive formal notice of the ways you can vote and other important information regarding the proposed merger, shortly after regulatory approval is received.
WHAT IS THE MERGER PROCESS?
To complete the merger process, we must receive approval from three sources: our boards, our regulators, and our members. In October, the boards of both credit unions unanimously approved and signed a merger agreement, and we recently filed a merger application with regulators for approval, which is required before an Ignite membership vote occurs.
The credit unions have now submitted their applications for regulatory approval, upon receipt of regulatory approval members will have an opportunity to vote. The official notice, and ballot along with instructions on how to vote, and the date of the special meeting will be sent to you shortly after regulatory approval is received.
WHEN WOULD THE MERGER BE COMPLETE?
It is anticipated that all approvals will be complete sometime in the third quarter of 2024. The tentative date we’re targeting is July 1, 2024. On this date, we would become one from a legal standpoint. However, this is not the date on which all the operational processes change. The process of completing system and process integration would extend into 2025.
Allegan Credit Union is committed to our community and the future of our youth. One of the ways we show this is by offering financial support to students interested in carrying on their learning through a college, university or trade school education with the Billie McClellan Scholarship. See below for details on how you can get an extra $1,000 to put towards your education!
- A completed Scholarship Application
- Two current (not past 60 days) letters of recommendation from teachers, guidance counselors, employers or school administrators; letters from family will not be accepted
- Acceptance letter from an accredited college, university or trade school that the applicant is attending
- A typed, double-spaced essay (500 words or less) letting us know how this scholarship will help you achieve your goals
- Anyone enrolled in college, university or trade school
- A person meeting the above requirements that hasn’t won previously
- Applications must be received by the close of business (4:30pm) April 1, 2024. Applicants will be notified no later than April 15, 2024.
- Scholarship recipients will be selected without regard to age, disability, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
- Employees or volunteers of Allegan Credit Union or members of their immediate families are not eligible to receive a scholarship.
- Applications not accompanied by the required documents will be considered incomplete. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
- By applying, applicants agree they will be photographed at the credit union for use in Allegan Credit Union marketing.
- Funds will be paid directly to the college, university, or trade school. The recipient agrees to provide Allegan Credit Union with the necessary information. If the recipient does not enroll during the semester for which the scholarship is provided, the scholarship will be forfeited. The recipient is responsible for any tax responsibilities.
- The scholarship selection committee will consist of Billie McClellan and two staff members and all decisions by the selection committee shall be final.
You can submit your completed application by dropping it off at any of our branches:
- Allegan branch drive-thru: 755 Grand St., Allegan, MI 49010
- Gobles branch night drop: 202 S. State St., Gobles, MI 49055
- Fennville branch drive-thru: 432 W. Main, Fennville, MI 49408
- or mail it to: Allegan Credit Union, P.O. Box 320, Allegan, MI 49010
Grow the Love
At Allegan Credit Union it's our mission to be more than just a financial institution. To be a source of support and development for our communities and the people who are part of them. And that’s why we’re Growing the Love!
Growing the Love means spreading good will in our communities with random acts of kindness and community engagement. If you’ve received one of our Grow the Love tokens, then chances are you’ve already experienced a little bit of what Growing the Love can do—be it a free meal, a tank of gas, or any other gesture to lighten your load and brighten your day.
We invite you to keep the chain moving, and Grow the Love in your community however you see fit. And while you’re at it, visit our Facebook page and share your Grow the Love experiences! We can’t wait to see where all our tokens wind up.
Allegan Credit Union is proud to offer Banzai, a premium online financial literacy program, to educators and students in our community, at no cost to educators. We understand the importance of financial literacy in our world, but also empathize with the costs to implement the information in the classroom...so we're here to help.
To learn more about this awesome program, click here.
To hear what some of our teachers think of the program, here you are...
"I am so excited to offer this to my students. Life skills are a must!"
- Julie King, Gobles Public Schools
"Thank you so much for sponsoring my class! I use this program to help prepare students for independent adult living. Funds are not always available to me and your help is very appreciated!"
- Ryan Vree, Bangor High School