Member Spotlight: Bank of Agriculture and Commerce

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Bank of Agriculture and Commerce
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Bank of Agriculture and Commerce from Stockton, Calif. In the following interview, CEO Bill Trezza explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
I’m a hands-on CEO.  As California’s longest-serving community bank CEO—31 years—I maintain a traditional leadership style when it comes to meeting with prospective customers. I regularly attend these meetings along with our relationship managers, and I’m happy to do so. I believe it sends a great message to the prospective client. If they have a problem or simply need advice, they know someone at the bank that can help. I also enjoy interacting with customers outside of the bank at local events and community activities. This gives me better insight of their special challenges and needs.

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
For more than 20 years we’ve hosted a comprehensive annual economic forecast of our region. We invite bank customers and other targeted, local citizens. Often our customers bring their employees, family or friends. This year financial expert John Mitchell, a former chief economist for U.S. Bank, helped us draw more than 500 people and considerable local media coverage. In many respects, customers, the media and community leaders rely on the bank’s annual forecast to receive localized and factual economic information.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
In 2004 “Dumbo the Clown” (literally) tried to rob one of our East Contra Costa County branches. A bank employee spotted a suspicious-looking man leave a bike on the side of the bank. The police were called, and authorities took the bike. Several hours later that day, the same employee was working at the teller window. She noticed another odd-looking character wearing a blue plaid jacket, large curly black wig, yellow baseball cap, large round eyeglasses and rubber gloves. The safety doors were immediately locked. Once the perpetrator couldn’t enter the building, he fled on foot towards the side of the branch — the same direction where the bike was left earlier that morning. Police believed the bike was probably the suspect’s get-away vehicle.

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
My most gratifying moment with the bank took place June 9, 1999, when I accepted—on behalf of our bank—an Arthur Andersen Capitol Region Best Practices Award for “Exceeding Customer Expectations.” A beautiful reception to thank bank employees followed the formal part of the presentation. It truly was a special and memorable evening. We later learned it was a customer from our newest Modesto branch, which opened in 1997, who nominated the bank.

What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
In the early 1990s we decided to focus on customer demand deposits. At that time we set a goal of growing the demand deposit accounts from 15 percent to 25 percent of deposits. The results were astounding, and within three years we reached 35 percent. We were able to achieve these goals by adopting the strategies below:

  • Modem-based cash management software,
  • Instituted ACH origination,
  • Established courier service to pick up business account deposits, and
  • Established an off-balance-sheet investment sweep account, which allowed our corporate customers to keep all of their balances with us and achieve a market return on excess liquidity.

Implementing these strategies broadened our appeal to many business customers who were receiving these services from large chain banks.

Do you celebrate Community Banking Month?
Yes. Typically we start generating Community Banking Month awareness internally through an article I publish in our employee newsletter, The BAC Buzz. I cite specific examples to illustrate the distinct and valuable role community bank’s play in building stronger and better communities. We have about 115 employees that can now share this knowledge with their family, friends and other associates so the message ultimately becomes multiplied just from this internal effort.

In addition, this year—with the help of our marketing communications department—I developed an op-ed describing the community banking industry’s positive impacts to local economies. The op-ed was distributed to each major news publication in the markets we operate. To date, three news entities have agreed to publish the guest editorial.

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Fidelity Deposit and Discount Bank

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Fidelity Deposit and Discount Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Fidelity Deposit and Discount Bank in Dunmore, Pa. In the following interview, Marketing Communications Officer Patty DeScipio explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
We are 110 years old and have been an active member of the community. We had the first drive-up window in the area, the first dialogue banking branch with universal tellers in the marketplace and the first green branch. We continue to look for innovative ways to interact with the community.

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
We have a special Volunteer Time Off program for all employees that allows each full-time employee 40 hours of paid time to work on a charity of their choice. Additionally, we just were awarded “Healthiest” Workplace by the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce due to our support and involvement in many community fundraising walks and runs. Over the past four years the bank has provided more than $1.5 million in financial contributions in support community organization and local charities.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
We have a kids-banking program called Green Team with a Roly-poly mascot named “Sammy Saves-A-Lot.” He’s kind of a big green decimal point with feet and orange hair.

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
All of the accolades we’ve received over the past five years:

“My bank and I are often in different hemispheres, so it’s vital we be on the same page. Fidelity proved it to me—Fidelity Bank Does It Better!”- Kris Jones, principal, KBJ Capital, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

“I know investments—that’s my business. The investment Fidelity made in me has paid dividends for over two decades and counting. They proved it to me then, and they have proved it consistently through the years, Fidelity Does It Better!” – Jack Carr, financial advisor, Northwestern Mutual

“Fidelity Bank helped to put Halibut Blue in the black! They took the time to examine our needs and come up with solutions that allowed us to grow despite the slow economy. The professionals at Fidelity showed us that Fidelity Bank Does It Better!” Chris Kuhar and Michael McLaughlin, owners, Halibut Blue Advertising, Forty Fort, Pa.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
In an effort to show the community that we are the No. 1 Mortgage Lender in the market (verified by HMDA data), we built a full-size playhouse in one of our county parks for the children of the area. We allowed the children to vote for the playhouse that they liked the best, and that’s the one that we built. More than 20 bankers participated.

How do you celebrate Community Banking Month?
We always participate in Teach Your Children to Save. This year we visited more than 15 schools with 19 bankers and taught about 950 students financial literacy lessons. We also do special collections for our local Women’s Resource Center, animal shelter, food pantry and a variety of other causes.

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Royal Bank-USA

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Royal Bank-USA
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Royal Bank-USA from Elroy, Wis. In the following interview, Brand Development Manager Natalie Adams explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
Our employees. We have an extremely dedicated and knowledgeable staff with tenure that almost doubles the industry average. Our team continues to grow, which has resulted in a great balance of youthful energy and valuable experience.

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
We have 15 branches located in rural communities of Central and Southwest Wisconsin with average populations of 1,300 people. Many residents travel to work, school or for shopping, and our geographic footprint allows customers convenient access to any one of our locations along the way. In addition, we’re big enough to invest in the latest technology for convenient banking, but remain small enough to offer a personalized customer experience.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
We found a lost tooth when counting a customer’s coin once; had a 6-year-old boy ‘water the bushes’ outside the front door while his mother finished up banking inside with a teller; and had a car run into the side of our building in Gays Mills. Each day brings a new surprise!

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
Last year, our presidents were featured on the cover of Northwestern Financial Review magazine. The article highlighted the unique structure of our bank leadership and gave a great voice to the personality of our bank. It was an honor to be featured on the front cover and extremely humbling for the bank and our executive team.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
After following many banks on social media, we decided to join in on the fun and launched our Facebook page in December of last year. This has given us a great outlet to connect with customers in real-time and has really helped to humanize our brand.

How do you celebrate Community Banking Month?
We have treats in our lobbies from local shops, teach about financial literacy and expand on ICBA’s #GoLocal and #BankLocally campaigns. Each branch has signs that say “I {heart} My Community Bank Because…” for customers to fill out and take a selfie with. There have been so many good ones already, including “because they helped me buy my house 5 years ago today!” We heart Community Banking Month!

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Community Spirit Bank

CommunitySpiritBankCommunity Banking Month Spotlight: Community Spirit Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Community Spirit Bank in Red Bay, Ala. In the following interview, Marketing Director Emily Mays explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
We are our community’s oldest business, opening our doors on June 11, 1908. Community Spirit Bank was originally housed in the southwest corner of the Red Bay Hotel. We were located directly across from the barber shop, which was also located in the entrance of the hotel. Our original vault doors remain on display in the local museum. Our first president of the bank, A.J. Hackett, was one of the original investors and the surveyor who platted the Town of Red Bay. Our history is rich, and our roots run deep in our ever-changing communities. We are proud to continue to serve going into our 107th year!

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
It’s service first, bottom line. We take pride in not just saying we offer amazing service, but showing it in every way possible. Our chairman of the board could just as likely be seen in his corner office or on his tractor scraping snow from the parking lot. When shorthanded on the frontline, our executive vice president/COO steps out of her office and runs a teller drawer if needed. We have a simple philosophy: whatever it takes to get the job done, and do it well. Service to our community is precedent. We serve our families, churches, and civic responsibilities with the same pride we do in banking. Making where we live, work and play a better place!

What is the funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
One of the funniest moments is our very own Harlem Shake video we filmed in 2013. This video definitely brought out the wild side of some of our senior management. What is priceless about this video is our chairman’s role in “not having time for such foolishness.” This was certainly a fun way of showing a different side of our bankers, and for our community members that know our chairman, his depiction of no time for such nonsense was spot on!

One of the bank’s proudest moments?
We received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when our small town of Red Bay was selected as the inaugural Alabama city for the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit, “The Way We Worked,” as part of the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) tour. We were distinctly privileged to get to play many roles in bringing this exhibit to our Main Street. The work spanned 11 months in preparation. The Smithsonian tour was set up in the bank’s Weatherford Centre. (This is a building we took over in 1992 that was previously a bowling alley, snack shop and movie theater and was in need of much repair. The bank’s management had a vision and converted that building into a community banquet and theater facility.)

Well worth the effort, “The Way We Worked” tour explored how work has become a central element in American culture, following the history of the workforce and it’s evolution over the past 150 years. It brought in almost 6,000 visitors from all over the U.S., as well as four other countries, to our little town. This unique mission was an honor, allowing us to engage, educate and inspire far beyond just our local communities.

Favorite Project?
We engage in many local projects, but our favorite would have to be our ever-growing financial literacy program, Community Spirit Bank Money$mart. We started our program in 2013, partnering with the EverFi platform in seven area high schools. Our first year had just shy of 600 students receiving their financial education at an 86 percent certification rate. This school year we are working with nine area schools, have over 600 students registered with 4,045 financial education modules completed to date! Through this program students are taught and assessed in multiple topics of financial education, allowing them to become more informed, responsible citizens. Our hope is to provide our future generations the knowledge of common core finance decisions and skills to manage their finances effectively for a lifetime.

Celebrating Community Banking Month?
April is definitely the month to let that community banking light shine even brighter! We love our communities—they are truly like family. Each year we try to have a variety of activities for our customers and employees. Some of our favorites include spreading the community banking word on social media, giving away local gift certificates and hosting a selfie contest for employees. We also always select one extra special day for Customer Appreciation Day. We give away promotional items, fresh baked cookies, popcorn, cash prizes, CSB T-shirts and more! It’s a really fun day for our customers and employees alike. We celebrated all day this year on April 24!

We feel community banking is a calling, our president and CEO challenged all of us at the beginning of the year with this: “At the end of the day, ask yourself if what you are doing at any point is in the BEST interest of our customers. If it is, then the bank will ultimately benefit as well. Are your actions, words and deeds for you, or for the best interest of our customer? Every action we make should be for betterment of our customers! What is true, what is noble, what is right, is what we should do every day!” And we believe that is truly what makes a community banking different!

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Grand Rapids State Bank

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Grand Rapids State Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Grand Rapids State Bank from Grand Rapids, Minn. The following video, provided by Marketing Director Julie Birkey and Marketing Coordinator Andy Sween, explains what is unique about this local community bank.

For more than 100 years Grand Rapids State Bank and the Wilcox family have celebrated the importance of community and community banking. By giving back to the local cities and towns they serve through dedicated, volunteer leadership and financial support of important community projects, the areas they serve are better places to live, work and raise a family. The spirit of giving and commitment characterizes this community financial institution. After four generations and more than 100 years of service, there are no signs of slowing down their commitment to community.

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Marine Bank & Trust

Marine_logoCommunity Banking Month Spotlight: Marine Bank & Trust Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Marine Bank & Trust from Vero Beach, Fla. In the following interview, CEO Bill Penney explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank? Our entire staff is rooted in our community. Their passions support the needs and success of our community through their time, efforts, financial commitment, talents, vision and promise. The bank has provided more than $200,000 to more than 125 local non-profit organizations in the market over the last five years.

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community? We sponsor many non- profits and charities, however, we most recently have directed our efforts toward financial education. We are committed to helping our community grow and prosper and we strongly believe that working with our local schools to educate children on the basics is critical to their long-term financial well-being. In the past six months alone, the bank has provided volunteer manpower and/or corporate underwriting to the Emerson Center, Indian River County Cultural Council, Quail Valley Charities, Vero Beach Opera, Riverside Theater, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, United Way, ORCA, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson Association of IRC, Oceanside Business Association, Exchange Club, Environmental Learning Center and Youth Guidance of IRC. We also host monthly Chariman’s Luncheons to support small business networking.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank? Our employees found it funny, as CEO, I attended  a community event wearing a long fake beard and walked down the main thoroughfare with Mariner Pete, our mascot.

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank? Over the past several years, many Florida banks suffered from the financial crisis. We were able to overcome the financial environment and have gained market share, kept our staff, and grew the bank. We help families achieve the American dream and, in 2014, our mortgage lending team placed more than 139 families in new homes. After our area was devastated by back-to-back hurricanes in 2004, Marine Bank was one of the first banks to reopen and provide banking services to our customers. With limited telephone capability, we personally visited our merchant customers to let them know that we were open for business. They were so pleased to see us. We provided a little bit of normalcy in a very abnormal world. Additionally this allowed them to get their cash out of their business and safely deposited into the bank.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank? It’s difficult to name just one; however, some of the favorites we have supported are the Treasure Night Trunk Show, the Taste of Vero, Dancing with the Stars, the Christmas Parades and the Hibiscus festival shopping cart parade. We were actively involved in the building of a Junior Exchange Club (Excel Club) that assists high school students develop leadership skills.

State Bank of Cross Plains from Cross Plains, Wis.

Community Banking Month Spotlight: State Bank of Cross Plains
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on State Bank of Cross Plains in Cross Plains, Wis. In the following interview, Megan Crowson explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
Every year, The State Bank of Cross Plains tries to come up with unique ideas to celebrate Community Banking Month. We have held online community contests, Pinterest contests and Local Hero contests. We are bold enough to try anything to make a statement that we are THE community Bank in Dane County!

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
We donate both employee time and monetary funds to organizations big and small. We even host a bake sale and bratwurst sale, where employees bake homemade goods and all proceeds go to a local charity.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
Our bankers are up for anything. Our superhero ad campaign stretched the limit to feature our business lenders. As you can see, these heroes did not look like your typical banker.

SBCPInBusinessAd-Commish1d SBCPInBusinessAd-Hoops1d Layout 1

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
The enthusiasm our staff has shown for our newest campaign—our Kindness Crusade. Throughout Community Banking Month, each of our banking offices will do one to three small acts of kindness each week and one or two larger acts for the month. But it doesn’t stop there! We also are challenging all employees and our customers to do acts of kindness throughout the month to people they know and love—or even those they work with!

Our ultimate goal is to get into our communities and incite positive change. Without our employees, none of this would be possible.

Community Bank Spotlight: First Green Bank

First_Green_BankIn recognition of Earth Day, ICBA is spotlighting First Green Bank in Mount Dora, Fla. The community bank was founded in 2009 with a mission to do the right thing for the environment as well as its customers, communities and shareholders.

According to First Green Bank, it offers discounted interest rates for LEED-certified commercial and residential projects, and its First Green Foundation nonprofit provides assistance for installing solar panels. The community bank’s buildings are built or converted for energy efficiency, it offers charging stations at most branches for electric and hybrid vehicles, and approximately 90 percent of customers receive paperless statements.

This week, First Green Bank is celebrating Earth Day with a Facebook trivia contest and giveaway.

Chairman and CEO Ken LaRoe discussed the ICBA member’s mission and performance in a interview earlier this year.

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Bank of Ann Arbor

BankOfAnnArborCommunity Banking Month Spotlight: Bank of Ann Arbor
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Bank of Ann Arbor from Ann Arbor, Mich. In the following interview, President and CEO Tim Marshall explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
Several things come to mind for Bank of Ann Arbor.

First, we work hard but have some fun at our bank. Our playful marketing efforts have captured the attention of our local community. Our employees enjoy living that brand out in their day-to-day interactions with each other and our clients. We just purchased a 1977 Granny Smith apple green VW bus to drive around town to events and activities. It goes perfectly with our supply of apple green Converse Chuck Taylors.

Second, with the skillful and hard work of our team and the support of our community, we remained profitable during the economic downturn and have set new records of profitability for the last five consecutive years. Guess having a little fun is good for the bottom line.

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
One of the special gifts we provide to our community is our Sonic Lunch concert series. Each summer, we invest time, money and employees to create a lunch time concert in a downtown city park that’s free for all who stop by. Over the past seven years, Bank of Ann Arbor has brought over 70 incredibly talented national and local performers for thousands of people to enjoy. Sonic Lunch has now become an integral part of Ann Arbor summers.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
One of my favorite experiences was from Sonic Lunch. Our performers for the day were none other than Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. As I was talking with Ms. Reeves before the concert, she said, “since you’re the bank president, could you cash these postal money orders that I have with me so I can pay the band?” In true community bank fashion, I walked Ms. Reeves over to our main office (which was only two blocks away) and introduced her to our branch manager. Making a little exception to our usual procedures, we made Ms. Reeves happy enough to be “Dancing in the Streets” with all of Ann Arbor.

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
A moment that I am particularly proud of represents a win for our whole team. In 2012, Bank of Ann Arbor was named as Company of the Year by our local news media. This award represented recognition by our community that we were not just an ordinary bank or company. It recognized the tremendous work that our bankers did to manage expenses, make wise loan decisions and grow banking relationships. It was so humbling yet exciting for our team to be honored with this award.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
There is a local nonprofit that provides medical services to the less advantaged population in our community. The nonprofit was anxious to provide more and better services to this population and began to expand and renovate its existing facility. Unfortunately, this was a classic case of getting the cart before the horse. No financing had been secured, historical cash flow would not support the size of the project, and fundraising was just getting started. Being true to our community bank roots, we worked closely with the organization in stabilizing the building to get through the winter months, helped them refocus all of their attention on the fundraising effort, and we were able to approve the loan the following spring. The building project is complete, the loan has been paid off, and there are more people using the services of this nonprofit.

How do you celebrate Community Banking Month?
We celebrate by helping to spread the word about the importance of community banking through our social media efforts and by supporting our team of the World’s Best Bankers as they serve our community.

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Frederick County Bank

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Frederick County Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Frederick County Bank from Frederick, Md. In the following interview, Senior Vice President of Commercial and Retail Banking Taitia Elliott explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
We know our clients’ by name, their children, their pets, favorite vacation spots and have even seen their surgery scars (don’t ask!). Not only is our bank president well known and respected in the community, all our employees are champions for the bank. We all work here, shop here, dine here and love the local community that we serve. We have a passion for this community in all our efforts and show that by what each of us does on a daily basis.

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
We’re more than just a bank. We open our doors to help prepare taxes, facilitate financial education for the local Boy and Girl Scout troops, host PTA and church groups, and serve as a field trip destination for local schools (including a scavenger hunt with treasure reward at the end).

Our Community Action Committee (CAC) is an employee-led committee that was created in 2010 to identify volunteer opportunities with local non-profit organizations and encourage employees to participate in service-related activities that enrich the communities served by FCB.  In 2014, 55 percent of our employees participated in more than 300 community service activities, including our Free Shred Days, Alive@5 on Carroll Creek, numerous 5Ks for charity, and bank-wide collection efforts benefitting The Rescue Mission, United Way’s School Supply Drive, local food banks and animal welfare organizations.

In addition, our employees also donated more than $3,300 through our monthly Charity Day initiative, which supports a wide variety of non-profits with important causes.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
We’ve had an alpaca visit one of our bank centers…

Alpaca visit

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
Having one of our employee’s efforts recognized as Community Champion for his dedication and commitment to financial education by the nonprofit Maryland CASH (Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope) Campaign, Maryland Council on Economic Education (MCEE) and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).  He was highlighted during the regular 8 p.m. session of the Maryland General Assembly on both the House and Senate floors in Annapolis.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
We partnered with the local United Way’s Prosperity Campaign to provide FCB employees as a regional volunteer force through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, an IRS-supported tax preparation service through which trained volunteers prepare taxes at no cost for qualifying individuals and families. We opened all our bank centers as facilities for anyone to come in and get free tax preparation as well as serve as site managers to help with financial education.

How do you celebrate Community Banking Month?
We get out in the community and do what we do best…smiles and service. I think I heard someone refer to it at an ICBA conference as “BBWA – Banking By Walking Around.”