Ask Cheryle Lange about her career in banking and the conversation that follows sounds like a lesson in Community Bank Lending 101. That’s because she has worked in nearly every role related to lending. From loan processor to lender to credit manager, Cheryle has done it all and seen it all. The veteran banker clearly loves her work but she will retire on April 8 after 36 years with VCNB and the Friendly Bremen Banking Center.
Cheryle didn’t plan to be a banker. In fact, she had her sights set on being a high school mathematics teacher. As so often happens, life got in the way and she pursued a different path at Bowling Green State University where she majored in Business. The Medina native came to Lancaster after getting married and following her husband to Fairfield County for his job. Here, she found work with another local bank, first filing checks and later taking on different roles related to lending.
She moved to Friendly Bremen Banking Center in 1986 when her old boss Ned Hinton suggested Cheryle for a job as his loan processor. Three years later, she left on maternity leave and returned to work with a promotion to Loan Officer. Over the years, Cheryle grew as a banker, taking on more responsibility managing our West Fair branch, then as a lender who worked in every type of loan the bank offers. She said she really enjoyed mortgage lending and that she had a great construction loan following but she made a shift into commercial lending when Ned retired in 2008. While she inherited his portfolio, she found her way by building her own customer base. She called it “a hectic but rewarding time.”
A few years later, Cheryle was given a choice to continue as a commercial lender or to take on a new role as Credit Manager. “I felt I had been producing loans for so long it was time to change things up, so I went with the credit manager position,” she explained.
While she has enjoyed the various stages of her career, her favorite work was in mortgage and commercial lending. Cheryle, who has a bit of a competitive spirit, said she enjoyed the challenge of seeing how much she could do in comparison to her coworkers. “It was exciting to look at monthly reports and see where I stood among the rest of the lenders. But probably the best personal feeling was the accomplishment of helping our customers complete a project. Home construction and purchases were the best because I got to see customers really be excited about a dream come to reality,” she recalled.
Once a young mother learning the ropes of lending, she is now a seasoned professional who seems to enjoy mentoring others.
“I try to help others, to help them learn from what I’ve learned. Our job is to take care of customers, to look out for them and to be helpful. That’s what community banking is all about and I think part of my job is helping others here remember that,” she mused.
She talked at length about helping customers better themselves. “People sometimes come in asking for something that isn’t right for them. It’s your job as a lender to figure out what they actually need to be successful and how to get them there. Sometimes what they need or want isn’t within their reach for one reason or another. If that’s the case, you need to help them understand what it will take to get there. Explain to them why they are being told no and help them understand what they need to do,” she explained. “Take a few minutes to talk with them about how they can improve their finances and give them tools to better themselves. Then tell them to come back when they are ready. You would be amazed at how many people will tell you that everyone else just told them no. They will appreciate you and when you tell them to come back when they’re ready, they will do it and they will be loyal customers.”
Cheryle is grateful to the bank and her job for the life she was able to build for herself and her boys. “The bank has been good to me and loyal to me. I will always be grateful for my career here and I will always have the bank’s interests at heart, retired or not,” she exclaimed. “I’ve had a good life because of my job at this bank.”
She’s now an empty nester. The mom of three grown boys lives in Pickerington with her little dog Bella and is in the process of downsizing into a more efficient home. Cheryle is an avid reader, enjoys walking, Zumba and worship at her church. She hopes to find a volunteer organization that could use her helping hand. “I want to get involved, to give back and do something for someone else,” she said.
While she looks forward to the road ahead, Cheryle dreads leaving for the last time and hopes she has done enough. “The people. I have some truly wonderful friends here, people who have been there with me through everything. I can’t imagine not having them in my life so I am already planning for how we can stay connected,” she said. “When you look back on your life, I think you just hope you did a good job. I think I did.”
Cheryle will celebrate her last day on April 8. Customers are invited to stop by and give their congratulations.