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!

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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!

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 Forbes.com 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: MidWestOne Bank

MidwestOneBankToday’s Member Spotlight focuses on MidWestOne Bank from eastern Iowa. In the following interview, Second Vice President and Marketing Officer Nick Pfeiffer explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
MidWestOne Bank is not unique because of our connection to our communities, but rather how we connect with them. In 2012 we developed the MidWestOne Community Impact Grant. It is essentially an internal competition between branches in our 19 eastern Iowa communities for a $50,000 grant. The stipulations are that it be paid in one sum, all employees within the community be involved, and that the impact of the gift is wide and deep. In 2012, the grant affected 6,000 students in the Iowa City School District by providing healthy lifestyle education, healthy snacks and free dental screenings. In 2013, the grant helped build a new Veterans’ Memorial Park and playground from a dilapidated property near the center of Sigourney, Iowa.  In 2014, the grant spurred the fundraising to build a new sports complex in Parkersburg, Iowa, and to build one of the first handicap-accessible ball diamonds in the Midwest.

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
A strong community has a strong local bank. In many of our 19 Iowa communities, we are that strong local bank. From serving hot dogs at the high school football game to teaching financial literacy classes to sponsoring a family movie series at a local movie theater, we are involved.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
We’ve hosted a burrito-eating contest, pie-eating contest, a 16-mile walk with our mascot (Buck the Pig), an egg-smashing challenge (similar to the ice bucket challenge) and a no-shave November event—all to raise money for the United Way. We are not afraid to have some fun.

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
Within the past few years, MidWestOne Bank has been named Company of the Year by the United Way, a Top 100 Workplace in Iowa and a top workplace for young professionals. But my proudest moment came in 2013 when MidWestOne Bank was named the “Coolest Place to Work in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor.” The thought that a bank could be the “coolest” was shocking to eastern Iowa. We beat out a bunch of startups and companies with fewer regulations than we have to deal with. That told me that our brand was really connecting with people.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
There have been many, but my favorite is happening right now. We are releasing a series of small business profiles. We are telling the story of some of our customers. It is opening the eyes of some of our customers—and those who should be—that there is a lot going on all around them and that MidWestOne is playing a big role in fostering growth in our local economy.

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Foundations Bank

Foundations_BankCommunity Banking Month Spotlight: Foundations Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Foundations Bank from Pewaukee, Wis. In the following interview, Vice President of Retail Banking Catherine Kolton explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
Foundations Bank is not just a community bank. We are a family, and when our customers visit us, they feel like they are amongst friends and are welcome to come on in, have a cup of coffee and visit with a staff who not only knows their name, but knows them. We do not just handle banking transactions. We hold events for our neighbors to come and meet other neighbors and share ideas for new ventures. We make it a priority to make sure our customers know that we care about them and their future success.

At Foundations Bank we are more than just a bank, we are an advocate for the business owners, non-profits and individuals in the community. We believe that we have to serve our community by volunteering, sponsoring events and providing loans to businesses and individuals in our community. We truly make Pewaukee a better place to live and work. Our bank president sits in the lobby with his door open to allow customers to stop in and say hello.

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
Foundations Bank hosts an event every quarter called “For Women by Women,” where women in the community can come enjoy dinner and listen to speakers on different topics. This event allows women business owners the opportunity to spotlight their own business by presenting education on various topics, networking, and providing recognition from other women in the community. The event is free and is open to the public.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
One of the funniest and most fun things that Foundations Bank does is hosts an annual Trick or Treat Event in October for kids 13 and under. Everyone from the bank dresses up, and of course all the kids do too. We decorate the whole bank and have an office decorating contest, costume contest and pumpkin carving, where the kids judge the best pumpkin. We provide a safe environment for kids to roam and trick or treat while the parents can relax and have treats too.

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
As a manager, my proudest moment is also one of the hardest. We have had two employees hired by our customers, and although it hurts to lose an employee, it is wonderful to know that the tellers are providing such excellent customer service that the business owners are thinking about Foundations Bank as the best place for them to hire people from.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
When we updated our website in 2014, it was challenging and fun because it completely overhauled our look and feel. We have had numerous compliments about the website.  www.foundationsbank.com When we first opened the bank in 2005, every employee participated in strategic planning sessions on Saturdays. We had five sessions on Saturdays to outline a SWOT analysis and set goals. This enforced ownership at every level of the organization and set the culture of who we were and what we wanted to achieve. We saw the benefit of the entire staff delivering the same message and working toward the same goals.