Deep Roots, Strong Branches

A Greek proverb tells us that society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.

Daniel Will, VCNB Founding President

This reminds us of our founder Daniel Will and makes us wonder if he had any inkling his bank would still be growing from seeds he planted in 1867. The roots of our family tree run deep and grow from principles that Dan gave us – be honest, get to know your customers, embrace what’s new that works, invest in the community, and do the right thing for the people who depend on you.

When he saw a need for a store in the community, Dan opened a store. When his customers needed credit, he helped them out. When they needed a safe place to keep their money, they trusted him to keep it secure in the store’s vault. And when he realized the town needed a bank, he set to work building what the community and his customers needed most.

This is the model we continue to follow. This is who we are and this is why we are grateful for Dan Will and those seeds he planted all those years ago.

Let’s face it – the deeper the roots, the healthier the tree and the stronger the branches will grow. So whichever VCNB branch you choose – whether it’s our first bank in McArthur, one of our newer branches in central Ohio or somewhere in between – it’s not just a branch. It’s part of a strong family tree of banks that continues to grow and reach toward the sky.

In Their Own Words: Community Banking According To Our Branch Managers

We are proud to be a community bank. What does it really mean to be a community bank? We asked some of our branch managers to tell us in their own words what community banking means to them and what they like best about being a community banker. Here’s what they had to say!

“One of the things I appreciate about working for a community bank is that we get to know our customers and their unique needs. Growing up on a farm, I understand a farmer’s business and their needs. They don’t have to explain their life and the challenges to me the way they would to someone without that background.”

Katy Hanes

“I like being able to get to know my customers and I think they appreciate the personal touch they get from us. That’s not something that’s encouraged or even possible at big banks so it feels really good to offer it here.”

Matt Hearn

“One thing I really like about VCNB is that they encourage us to get involved in the community, they reward us for volunteering and they want us to know our customers.         I never had that before at my old job.”

Christina Wine

“The thing about working in a bank in a small community is that you get to know almost everyone and they get to know you. It feels good when someone calls and asks for you. It tells you that that you’re doing something right – that you’ve built a relationship with that person and that they trust you to take care of them.”

Charlotte McCarty

“It’s going to sound cheesy but I love helping people, especially the problem solving aspect of what I do. I appreciate that we are taught about why a policy or procedure exists and the bank gives us the tools and leeway to work with our customers.
We’re sometimes able to find ways to help the customer whether it’s helping them get approved for a car loan because their car just blew up or finding ways to help them
stop over drafting an account.”

JJ Wright

“You don’t find that community feel just anywhere but our involvement in the community allows us to be a resource to customers. That extends to employees too. When your staff and coworkers feel like family, you all work together better. You help each other out more and you feel like we’re all in this together.”

Brittany Walters

“I like to problem solve and love when I can figure out a customer’s issues.
That’s rewarding to help and to be a resource for them. Even with seventeen branches, we are still a community bank. We’re still allowed enough leeway to help customers
in a way that you just don’t find at big businesses. I mean, we all know
the Executive Team here. We all know the President.
We all are given the confidence and the freedom to work together.”

Kati Maple

“Do you know how important it is to work for a company that encourages employees to get involved? And it’s not just about opening savings accounts and lending money. It’s about helping out at events and going to the fair to buy livestock. I was a 4-her once and I remember how important it was to have businesses support the livestock sale. That’s where I got the money to open my savings account, from taking hogs to the fair!”

Jeremy Robson

“This is so much more rewarding than corporate banking which is very black and white. In corporate banking, there’s no opportunity to get to know your customers or to help someone who you’ve had to tell they can’t have what they want but that there
may be another solution. It’s like night and day when you go to work for a bank that actually wants to work with customers.”

Matthew Giroux

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Small Business Spotlight: Perfect Weddings

Small businesses are vital to our communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

beautiful dressWhen it comes to wedding planning, there is nothing more exciting or more stressful than choosing the right dress. Fortunately, local brides have a secret weapon at Perfect Weddings. Here Ellen Rickett uses her experience to help brides select just the right wedding gown and everything else she needs for the bridal party to wear.

In 35 years Ellen has refined her abilities for helping a bride choose the dress that makes them feel the most beautiful while carefully working within her budget. However, there is more to Perfect Weddings than just the bride’s dress. In fact, the relationship a bride and her bridal party develop with the Perfect Weddings staff only begins with dress selection.

“We will help a girl find the dress but it doesn’t end there. A lot of the larger stores will sell you a dress and send you out the door but we facilitate the storage, alterations and pressing. We like to give them one less thing to worry about.”

Perfect Weddings exteriorThe 7,000 square foot facility encompasses two floors of a tudor style shop on Memorial Drive in Lancaster. It is practically a wonderland of wedding gowns, bridal party gowns, homecoming and prom dresses. They also offer tuxedo rentals, jewelry, veils, shoes, garters and even fun socks to prevent the groom from getting cold feet.

Ellen and her daughter Kim started the business after Kim graduated college. They began with just $4,000 and a small shop on East Main Street. Today Kim manages the business while Ellen works directly with customers. However, Ellen doesn’t talk about them like they’re customers. She clearly takes a personal interest in each, making certain their individual experience is pleasant.

“The dress is the first thing you need when planning a wedding and there’s a lot of pressure to find the right one. Every bride wants the perfect dress and it’s my job to help them find it.”

One thing that makes Perfect Weddings unique is that they have three in-house seamstresses who they affectionately call “Angels” because they are known for performing miracles. The Angels perform all alterations on site so that dresses never leave the building until they are picked up for the wedding. “That’s important because they aren’t being shipped off for alterations and stored next to countless other dresses from other stores. We keep the dresses here, make the alterations and continue to store them until the wedding,” she said.

Dresses are even pressed by hand before they leave on the big day.

PressingPandemic related closures have created difficulties for the event business as most gatherings have been cancelled or postponed. “We went from 118 tux rentals in one weekend to none the following weekend,” she recalled. “It was a domino effect of tragedy for the kids, the brides, for us, our designers and distributors, the venues, for everyone involved.”

“Some girls had pictures taken in their prom dresses or had private mini proms with friends. Many weddings have been postponed until fall or until next year and we are here to help them, to help alleviate some worry as we will keep their dresses safe until they’re ready.”

Alleviating stress and worry is a common theme when Ellen discusses their work. “Planning a wedding can be stressful. For many girls, they’ve never planned an event so large. It’s a lot of work, a lot of details, a lot to worry about and we want to ensure that they aren’t worried about their dresses. We aim to give them one less thing to worry about.”

beautiful dress 2Money is another focus for Ellen as she strives to work within any budget. They typically have some dresses on sale for as little as $99 and the range of cost goes up to $2,300. They do offer a payment plan, a service that she said most bridal stores no longer provide.

“I never want to encourage a bride to go over her budget. I don’t work on commission so I have no reason to push something that someone cannot afford,” she explained. “The true reward is that moment when you turn her around to see herself in the mirror and she smiles. She smiles and sometimes tears will flow down her cheek because she knows this is the dress, the one she’s dreamed of. That’s why we do this.”

Ellen speaks with a bride before she comes in for her consultation. “Most girls have an idea of what they want. They know they want long sleeves or strapless or that they want a lot of bling. I talk with them about their desires and about their budget so that I can have some dresses ready for them when they come in.”

With over 600 styles under one roof, finding the right dress sounds intimidating but she said it typically takes just one visit and four to five dresses to find the one they love. “It’s the feeling they have in it. You can tell them they look good but if they don’t feel good, if they don’t feel beautiful, it’s not their dress.”

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Ellen said their business has seen everything. Brides come from all over Ohio and across the country, often by referral. Weddings are sometimes very small or may have a dozen bridesmaids. They have done weddings for four sisters and are currently helping the third sister in another family. “It’s special when they think so much of us they are bringing a family member here.”

Perfect Weddings is located at 430 North Memorial Drive, Lancaster and is available by appointment by calling 740.654.4696. Visit them at perfectweddingsbridal.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Le Petit Chevalier Vineyards and Farm Winery

Small businesses are vital to our communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

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Sunset on Locust Grove at Le Petit Chevalier Vineyards and Farm Winery.

Le Petit Chevalier Vineyards and Farm Winery is more than a winery, it’s a passion project for one local family and a truly special experience for visitors to the Hocking Hills region. Whether you come to spend the night in their guest suite or just to sip a glass of one of their signature wines, you likely will not want to leave.

The boutique winery sits atop Locust Grove, one of the scenic rolling hills of northern Vinton County. Mark and Margit Chevalier purchased the farm and its 1883 home when their four children were small. At the time, they were focused on giving their family a healthy country life while finding ways to keep the land working. Now the kids are grown and the couple have found a new way to work the land and to build a business that fills a need in the community.

They exude hospitality and charm as well as excitement that guests can now come and enjoy the literal fruits of their labor over the last ten years.

Mark is a retired educator who Margit says has “just a wonderful palette.” She is a trained horticulturist with a vision for a vineyard and winery that celebrates the grapes, the land and the human connection to both.

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Mark and Margit Chevalier are the owners of Le Petit Chevalier Vineyards and Farm Winery in the Hocking Hills.

The winery just opened to the public in May but Mark said the process began a decade ago when they planted the first grapes. The 2014 Polar Vortex brought bitter cold that killed some of their French varieties and encouraged them to select all heirloom and hybrid varieties that grow well in this climate.

grapes and sky

Margit speaks with passion for all the grapes they grow.

Margit has an intimate knowledge of all their grapes, how they grow, required care and even their history. She also speaks with a motherly affection for their grapes. “They’re my babies!” she laughed. “My four babies are all grown up but now I have 5,000 of them to care for and help grow.”

Their wine list currently consists of Catawba, Norton, Seyval Blanc, Chambourcin and Grower’s White which they say is “a vineyard blend of estate grown hybrids finished in a soft, easy-drinking slightly sweet style.”

New wines will be added in coming years including Chardonel, Marquette, Itasca, Alexander and Marechal Foch. There is already a wait list for the Alexander which is expected in 2022.

The winery has plenty of room for guests both inside and out. The centerpiece inside is the bar, handmade by Mark with wood from a maple tree on a neighboring farm. Ash shelving, also of local origin, displays wine bottles that feature a label that Mark designed. Indoor seating welcomes visitors to stay for a while but the real centerpiece is the outdoor view. From the deck or a glider in the yard, guests can enjoy the breathtaking view of the vineyard and the rolling hills beyond.

It’s the perfect place to gather with friends or to enjoy an intimate evening for two.

Those who wish to stay longer can actually rent the Winery Loft which features a full kitchen, king bed, sofa bed and private entrance to accommodate up to four guests. Two private decks were designed to showcase the surroundings – one deck is placed for enjoying the sunrise while the other is available for optimal sunset viewing.

interior loft

Extend your stay at the farm by renting the loft over the winery. With a private entrance and proximity to the Hocking Hills State Parks, it is an ideal place to get away.

Situated near the Hocking Hills State Parks, it is the ideal location for a relaxing vacation or even a staycation for those looking to take a break close to home.

While their children are young adults who have begun finding their own way in the world, they all have been involved in the business and helping with its success. “Everything we do here is important. We are careful about what we grow and what we make and always make the best we can. It isn’t just our product, it’s our name on that bottle,” Mark explained.

Margit echoed his thoughts. “We pride ourselves that this isn’t just a winery. It’s a vineyard and everything is from our land. We have never bought a single grape from another vineyard,” Margit said. “You’ve never tasted grapes like this, wine like ours because it tastes like the work and love we’ve put in here.”

They have plans to someday serve some food but currently invite guests to bring their own. “Bring a picnic! We welcome everyone to bring their own food, a basket of bread and cheese or even a pizza! We don’t mind,” Margit said. “This is our own slice of paradise, our own Garden of Eden and we want people to come here and enjoy it. We want them to stay and experience what we live with every day.

As the midsummer sun sets, illuminating acres of grapevines for as far as the eye can see, their two border collies romp with a toy in the field and birds sing their final song of the day. Two out-of-town guests savor the moment from the deck and it really does feel like paradise.

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While 2020 hasn’t been an ideal time to open a new business, Margit said that their property is a perfect place to find some sense of normalcy. She pointed out there is ample room for guests to safely enjoy each other’s company and that social distancing is no trouble.

She recalled a Loft guest who recently brought her children from the city for an overnight stay. “She sat down at the campfire and you could just feel the weight of her worries leave. She said ‘this is the first time I’ve felt normal in I don’t know how long,’ and it made me happy,” Margit recalled. “It’s so important to me that people have that opportunity to just breathe and enjoy their surroundings.”

Visit Le Petit Chevalier Vineyards and Winery online for more information including hours and menu or to book a stay in the Winery Loft. Follow them on Facebook for their latest news and photos.

 

 

 

 

VCNB Opens New Jackson Branch Monday

Jackson coming soonMonday will be a banner day for our staff in Jackson as this will mark our first day of operation in a newly constructed branch. The new office is located at 471 McCarty Lane, just around the corner from the current Jackson branch.

VCNB President Mark Erslan said that he looks forward to opening the new branch to the public. “We are really excited about the completion of our new office in Jackson. The growth we’ve experienced in the limited time we’ve been in Jackson has exceeded our expectations,” he said.

The bank opened a loan office in a small space on Veterans Drive in 2016. It quickly became clear that there was a demand in Jackson for VCNB to have a full service bank and the Jackson County Banking Center opened in 2017. That space was quickly outgrown and ground was broken last year for this new facility.

Customers will appreciate the state-of-the art drive-thru system and drive-up ATM. The Intelligent Deposit ATM uses no envelopes, accepting deposits of cash and checks and giving customers same-day credit for up to $500 daily. Inside, personal bankers are trained to help customers with nearly any loan or deposit need. A kid’s corner will help keep little ones occupied while their parents do business, and a digital learning area will allow customers who prefer self-service to log into their VCNB online accounts, read account literature and do more on iPads.

Most of all, there is plenty of room in the 6,000 square foot facility for bankers to spread out and help their customers with respect to customer privacy and safety in socially distanced times. “We just can’t wait to service our Jackson County customers with a brand new office that features modern amenities and plenty of room. We’re very pleased with the outcome of the planning, design and construction and looking forward to the chance for everyone to see and experience the new facility,” Erslan said.

The current branch will be open through Friday. This location will be closed on Saturday morning so they can move into the new facility. Visit us in Jackson at 471 McCarty Lane beginning Monday, July 27. We look forward to serving you in our new branch!

 

Meet Your Banker: Callie Duhl

In our Meet Your Banker Series, we visit with Callie Duhl. Callie is the Branch Manager of our Jackson County Banking Center in Jackson.

Callie Duhl

Callie Duhl is the Branch Manager of our Jackson County Banking Center in Jackson.

Chat with Callie about her life and career and one thing is clear. She is devoted to her community, family and bank customers. The Jackson native has spent her entire life in Jackson, graduating from Jackson High School and building a long banking career before joining the VCNB Financial Family last year.

Like many VCNB Branch Managers, she started her career as a teller, working her way through a variety of positions including head teller, assistant manager and lender, seeing the banking business from a variety of angles. “I’ve done lending for most of my career and that’s what I like the best. It’s fun helping people get the things they need or want, the things that improve their lives,” she said.

Yet, this isn’t the life path Callie had envisioned for herself. As a lover of the outdoors, she has always enjoyed spending time caring for flowers, mowing and doing other outdoor work. “I never gave a thought to sitting behind a desk eight to ten hours a day. However, this is the path that God lead me down. My Grandpa always told me that God has a big sense of humor,” she exclaimed. “I’m right where I’m supposed to be and I’m glad to be here.”

Callie and her husband Alan have a fifty acre farm that keeps them busy. They have been married for 35 years and have one son. Their son works for the sheriff’s office and his wife is an RN. They have four young children who Callie adores.

She also is active as a founding member and treasurer of the Jackson Area Kiwanis. “Up until Covid hit we were staying busy in the community. It’s been different this summer but everything has been different,” she said.

Callie praised her customers for being so patient with lobby limitations during recent months. “Our customers have been just wonderful. So patient and kind to wait their turn. We couldn’t ask for better,” she said.

She takes customer service very seriously. “It’s important to me that we know our customers and that we do as much for them as we can,” she said. “Most of the time, when someone comes in, at least one of us knows their name and I think that’s important for people to feel comfortable coming in and doing business with us. We have all the technology anyone could want and we have the products they’re looking for but most people are really looking to make a connection with their banker.”

The branch will soon move to a new building, just around the corner from the current location. Construction is wrapping up at 471 McCarty Lane, just across the street from the BMV. “We can’t wait to move in and to welcome customers into the new office. It’s going to be wonderful!”

 

 

 

Earn Rewards Points With A Visa Platinum Credit Card

Earlier this month we told you about Rewards Checking and how so many of our customers are accessing uChoose Rewards®. These rewards points can be redeemed for cashback to your checking account, gift cards, experiences, and other things simply by doing regular debit card spending and banking.

Today we’re going to talk about our Visa® Platinum Credit Card and how it can be used for earning rewards as well!

Here for You BadgeOur points savvy customers will tell you that having both the credit card and the checking account linked to the same uChoose Rewards account allows them to accumulate points more quickly. That’s because credit card customers earn one point for every dollar spent on purchases.

To earn points, you must register your card with the uChoose site. If you have both Rewards Checking and a Visa Platinum Credit Card through VCNB, be sure to link those cards to the same uChoose account to watch your points accumulate more quickly.

Click here for terms, rates and other important details about the Visa Platinum Credit Card. Note that customers who hold only the credit card are not eligible for cash back but can still receive all the other rewards including gift cards, movie passes, travel and merchandise. Receive 1,000 bonus points when opening a new Visa Platinum Credit Card account.

Contact your local banker or visit any of our branches to apply for a credit card or to learn more about uChoose Rewards and the Visa Platinum Credit Card.

 

Meet Your Banker: Katy Hanes

Our Meet Your Banker series continues today with Katy Hanes who is the Branch Manager at our Friendly Bremen Banking Center on East Main Street in Lancaster.

Katy Hanes

Katy  Hanes is the Branch Manager of our Friendly Bremen Banking Center on East Main St. in Lancaster.

For Katy, her job, family and connection to the agricultural community are so closely intertwined, it is hard to separate the three. The Amanda area native grew up in a farm family and is happy that her job allows her to serve so many customers who are part of the local agricultural community.

She grew up on a crop and cattle farm, belonged to 4-H for 12 years, and learned to value the agricultural community so much that she went after a degree in Agricultural Business at Ohio State University. While she didn’t intend to become a banker, Katy said that the job gives her an opportunity to help lots of people and to use her experience in agriculture to specifically help area farmers.

“One of the things I appreciate about working for a community bank is that we get to know our customers and their unique needs. Growing up on a farm, I understand a farmer’s business and their needs. They don’t have to explain their life and the challenges to me the way they would to someone without that background,” she explained. “And it’s sort of fun when a customer comes in and they recognize me from 4-H. We’ve never met but they remember me as that little girl showing her steer at the fair years ago. It’s important for a banker to be able to relate to their customers and this is an area where I can definitely relate.”

Today Katy lives on a 140 acre farm with her husband Calvin and their two kids. They have about 75 cows and their calves and enjoy the farm life. The farm, work and family keep her busy but she does find time to enjoy the bank’s involvement in various community activities. Her kids, ages five and seven, both love horses and their practice and competitions keep the whole family on the go.

“I talk a lot about agriculture because that’s what I grew up with and that’s what I know best. It’s what I’m most passionate about but I really love getting to know all kinds of people. We live in a great community and that shows in the wonderful customers we have here!”

 

 

 

VCNB Employee Uses Kindness Rocks To Spread Beauty

20200315_215622“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

VCNB Accounting Manager Cathy Rutter has made it her personal mission to spread a message of kindness with her newfound talent of painting on something unexpected – rocks!

While vacationing in Florida last year, Cathy stumbled across a beautiful hand painted rock, known as a kindness rock. Kindness rocks are painted and hidden to be found. Their journeys can then be tracked on various forms of social media.

Cathy Rutter

VCNB Accounting Manager Cathy Rutter spreads beauty with kindness rocks.

This sparked a fire in Cathy to start an endeavor to become a painter even though she had never painted before. She gathered the essentials including paint, brushes and rocks for her canvas. “Some of my first projects looked like kids’ work,” she said recalling the process to her painting success. “It’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it – turns out I have a gift I was able to develop and improve with work and determination.”

She developed her self-taught skills by studying other paintings and pictures for guidance. Nature is her inspiration including flowers, birds and scenery.

What started as a hobby has developed into a passion and one of her favorite ways to relax. Cathy has progressed from painting on dull creek rocks to sparkling Santorini stone. Her rocks are truly a work of art waiting to be found.

As Cathy’s journey of painting has evolved, so has her career with VCNB. She began as Management Trainee at The Friendly Bremen Bank nearly thirty years ago and has worked in several bank departments throughout her career.

She resides in Bremen with her husband Vince. Together they leave kindness rocks at various places, spreading kindness as they travel. Keep your eyes open for a painted treasure!

See below for a slideshow of her art.

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Meet Your Banker: Sue Ross

Our Meet Your Banker series continues today with Sue Ross who is the Branch Manager at our Franklin County Banking Center in Grove City.

Sue never intended to be a banker but after a forty year career there is no doubt that banking is her calling. Most of those years have been spent working for Grove City banks but the last five have been with VCNB.

Sue Ross

Sue Ross is the Branch Manager of our Franklin County Banking Center in Grove City.

She started her banking career eleven days after graduating from Utica High School. She actually began working in lending, indirect lending, risk management, equipment leasing, and trust.

Sue spent a few years in a corporate environment where bankers devote most waking hours to work. “You worked 55 to 65 hours per week and it was all about doing more. There was no work life balance so it was a pleasant adjustment coming here,” she said. “They say no one ever puts on your headstone that you should’ve worked a little more and it’s true!”

Instead, she appreciates the reasonable work schedule and focus on customer relationships at VCNB. “I love generational banking! You take good care of mom and dad and when the time comes, you develop a relationship with their child as they need a savings account and a first car loan. As they’re getting married and need a home, as they’re raising their own children, the cycle continues because you were first a trusted advisor for their parents,” she explained.

Sue and her husband Donald live on a five acre ranchette with all their kids – three horses, two dogs and a cat. They spend a lot of time caring for their critter kids as well as helping elderly friends and neighbors.

She is active with the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Chamber Foundation Scholarship Committee. Sue also prides herself on being a resource for local seniors, has volunteered at local nursing homes and is an avid bingo caller for Evans Senior Center in Grove City. She volunteers with the Refuge, providing financial education and budgeting assistance to women who are overcoming addiction.

There are two quotes that Sue draws from for inspiration. The first is “never allow yourself to be too busy to make someone feel special.” The other is an Albert Schweitzer quote. “He said ‘aim for service and success will follow’ and I just think that says it all. It has been a rewarding career because I truly love serving our customers. The true reward is getting to know them and building long, lasting relationships with people who become your friends and sometimes become like family.”