Branching out in the ‘burbs

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Branching out in the ‘burbs
Photo by Timothy Hughes
Oregon Community Bank team

When Oregon Community Bank expanded into Waunakee last December, it gave the institution a chance to build on its more than 40 years of experience in growing relationships within the communities it serves.

Steven Peotter, president and CEO of the organization, says the expansion was a strategic decision to grow the company–which provides personal and business financial services–and give more communities access to a “world-class” experience. He says employees are offered that kind of experience as well.

Internally, that includes a workplace that thrives on teamwork and collaboration, says Mary Rule, consumer-residential lender and a relationship banker at Waunakee Community Bank. But employees also care about the company’s efforts to be involved in the life of the community, she says. “We’ve realized how important it is for the people that live in the communities to have a financial institution that is really involved in that community.”

Tracy Zeichert, a senior commercial loan administrator, says the bank has a positive work culture and credits Peotter’s leadership. She says Peotter and his leadership team are accessible at each bank. Steven Erickson, vice president of business banking at the Waunakee bank, says, “It goes back to that team-focused approach where we all collaborate together.” Branching out in the ‘burbs

The organization offers employees benefits such as paid time off for part-time workers, programs that encourage maintaining a healthy lifestyle, flexible schedules and financial planning services. But it was the workplace culture that scored high among employees, who claimed it’s a place where they can support each other, be involved in community projects and serve their customers.

Elyse Smithback, vice president of treasury management and private banking at the Oregon bank, says it’s important for customers to know they can count on a bank that has employees who are knowledgeable and will help them with the services they need. “It’s just having them see me as a good resource in a way to make their life easier,” she says.

The hiring process is also important, says Dan Behrend, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Oregon Community Bank. He says: “You want to have a people-oriented person … someone who’s likable and who likes people.”

Behrend says a challenge will be to remain “who we are” as the company continues to grow. “That’s usually the problem that larger institutions experience,” he says, “because they get too big.” He adds, “They don’t get as personal anymore.”

Peotter says the company’s culture of workplace collaboration will help sustain them. “The one thing I know, whether it’s that challenge or any other challenge, is that we’ll figure it out together,” he says.

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