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.

 

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Crossroads Meats

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!

Crossroads Meats exterior

Crossroads Meats is a custom butcher shop and retail store on Main Street in Adelphi.

If you’re looking for fresh, good quality meat, a local butcher shop is the place to go. Crossroads Meats in Adelphi specializes in custom butchering but has a popular retail storefront as well. Here you’ll find everything you need to stock your freezer or to entertain guests at your next backyard barbeque.

The attention to detail that owner Noah Cross gives to his work, combined with an increasing demand for quality meat, has helped the shop develop an eager following of customers.

Noah grew up in his father’s butcher shop in rural Missouri, where he helped out while learning the trade. “Growing up, I thought I’d never butcher for a living. Why would I when there’s all kinds of exciting things to do? But it comes back to what you know and what you love and I really love what I do,” he said with a smile.

Yet, when Noah and his wife Ann had the opportunity to relocate to Ohio and start a new life with a newly settled Mennonite community, Noah wasn’t sure he wanted to continue in the business. ‘It’s long days and they’re hard days. It’s real physical work, especially in your arms,” he said.

So when they came to Ohio, he took up tree trimming and removal. He did that for a while but quickly learned this fair weather business didn’t keep him busy enough. So he returned to his roots and began processing deer on the side, growing this business to accommodate the community’s need. This side business quickly took off, causing him to buy the old hardware store in Adelphi and set up a butcher shop and retail store.

Here he focuses on custom cattle processing jobs which keeps him extremely busy. At this time, their custom work is booked through early 2021.

But many customers know Crossroads for their retail shop. Here, customers line up to buy everything from hamburger and steaks to handmade sausage and fresh marinated chicken.

“A lot of our business lately has come in because of COVID. They say there’s a meat shortage and a lot of people have come here because they couldn’t get what they want at the store. But once they try our product they say they’ll never go back to buying at the grocery. They say they’re spoiled now,” he said. “A lot of people don’t believe there’s a difference in the taste but there really is. And you can shout till you’re blue in the face but it doesn’t mean anything until they try it and taste the difference for themselves.”

When asked about the difference in fresh meat from a butcher shop and that from a grocery store, Noah said that part of the difference lies in geography and timing. “When you’re buying meat from the store, you might be buying something that was raised in Kansas and slaughtered in California. Then it still has to be transported to the store for you to buy it. I’m not saying that a Kansas animal isn’t as good as an Ohio one but animals don’t transport well dead or alive. By the time it gets to you, that really shortens the shelf life,” he explained.

There’s a sign in the store that seems to summarize his work philosophy. It reads “Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy local and it can buy fresh.”

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Noah Cross and his employees take pride in the work they do, providing quality meats for the community. From left are Ginny Beachy, Twila Martin, Noah Cross and Jemima Zook.

That’s part of the reason he has begun raising his own cattle just down the road. “I like going from farm to table. I like feeding my own and knowing how it was cared for and that it just traveled a quarter mile down the road to get here. It’s important to me, knowing what I’m providing for people,” Noah said. “I have customers who have been up to see them and have already ordered cattle that isn’t even ready yet because they’re that confident it will be good.”

The meat they currently sell in the store comes from Heffelfinger’s Meats here in Ohio. Coolers are stocked with thick cut bacon, hamburger, steaks, chicken and pork chops. Noah’s employees make their own bratwurst, snack sticks, summer sausage, trail bologna, sausage links and sausage patties among other things. But some of their most popular items are already marinated and ready to cook. Chicken marinades include barbeque, garlic butter and southwest. He said their burgundy pepper New York strip steak and old fashioned dry rub bacon are especially popular too. Their seasoned hamburger patties are big sellers and can be purchased in smoky molasses, garlic tomato basil, and jalapeno cheddar.

Each Saturday, he fires up the smoker out front and cooks sixty to eighty sides of ribs. They come out of the smoker at noon, fresh and ready for customers to enjoy. They do encourage ordering in advance to ensure that customers are able to get this high demand product.

Some Thursdays, he smokes chicken wings, legs quarters and drumsticks too. Anything not sold that day will be available for purchase in the store.

Noah believes in delivering quality service and product. He also is pleased to work with customers and deliver what they request. He described a popular sweet Italian bratwurst link that they make. When a customer asked for that seasoning in a patty instead of a link, they were happy to accommodate. “That’s how new products are born,” he said.

The store also sells Camp Chef brand grills and smokers, chest freezers, some meat seasonings and Ben’s brand mustards and barbeque sauces. Essentially, if you need the meat or some way to freeze, flavor or cook it, Crossroads can help!

The business is very much a family operation. His wife Ann helps out with the business aspect and their four little boys, ages 10, 7, 5, and 2 spend a lot of time with their dad here and are well known to regular customers. They also employ three people to do processing, packaging and to help with the store.

While they clearly work hard and long days, Noah his thankful to the community for their support. “The people here are just wonderful. We moved here not knowing anyone and not deserving a thing and these Ohio people have absolutely showered us with their friendship, their kindness and business,” he said. “We’ve made so many wonderful friends that we simply couldn’t ask for more.”

Crossroads Meats is located at 11826 Main Street, Adelphi. For more information, visit their store or call 740.702.MEAT.

 

Small Business Spotlight: Albright Saw Company

Albright historic pic

This antique photo features a number of Jerry Albright’s relatives and many others from the community who worked in logging and sawmills in Vinton County.

Ask Jerry Albright to talk about his work and two things are clear: he loves what he does and he knows his business. The founder of Albright Saw Company has officially been in business since 1979 but his experience started when he was a teenager just helping out his dad, Johnny.

Today he owns the Frick brand of sawmills, one of the best known and oldest sawmill brands in the country. They manufacture, sell and service sawmills but that’s just the tip of the saw blade when it comes to describing what they do.

To understand the Albright story, it’s important to go back a few generations. “My great grandpa, my grandpa and my dad all worked in sawmills. They sawed, logged, farmed. They were just like everyone else, they did whatever they had to do to make a living,” Jerry said before describing his own upbringing in Vinton County, being raised by his parents, Ruth and Johnny Albright.

The family lived on Pretty Run Road, near where his business is located today. With six kids to support, Jerry’s dad farmed and owned a sawmill before eventually teaching himself the art of saw hammering. This is the technique used to straighten a saw. It’s done with an eight pound hammer, an 800 pound anvil and a two foot long straightedge. His dad was known as the man to see if you had trouble with a sawmill.

In that day, dozens of sawmilling operations across Vinton County provided a large nearby customer base. He did this work during the day and worked nights for Dale Riddle’s mill and the teenaged Jerry helped where he could. “I was lucky to grow up around it and it just came easy to me. I was lucky to come from a family that taught us to work hard,” he said.

Today, Jerry has a reputation much like his father’s. “I like being the one that can fix it, the one you call when no one else can figure out the problem,” he said.

That reputation was hard earned. Over 41 years Jerry has built a customer base of thousands, taking him all over the country to hammer saws and to fix sawmill troubles.

He had been selling products for big brands when opportunity knocked in 1993. That’s when Jerry contacted Frick, in hopes of becoming a distributor. However, the company was for sale and new distributors weren’t being sought.

On a whim, he asked for a price. Realizing it was a fair price and good opportunity to buy the operation including all the blueprints, patterns, copyrights, equipment, molds and parts, he visited the Mississippi based facility and then the bank for financing. Within a short amount of time he was the proud owner of a brand that had been manufacturing trusted sawmills since 1875.

The rest, as they say, is history.

albright saw work

Jerrod Albright continues the family tradition, learning alongside his dad.

Since then, his company has supplied Frick sawmills to operations in 35 states including South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and many points in between. Add in the parts distribution and saw hammering services and he has done business in 45 states and three Canadian provinces.

While there are a number of sawmill brands on the market, he said his mills are known for precision at an affordable price. “We can do the same volume as the other guy but more accurate and for less money.”

Today, there are just two other businesses in Ohio that do similar work hammering saws. “There aren’t a lot of us around,” he said.

What’s truly fascinating about Jerry Albright is that he’s able to speak so knowledgeably about how the machines work, the science involved in how a saw blade turns, and the computers used to run a modern sawmill that it would be easy to assume he has extensive formal training. But the Vinton County High School alum just laughs and shakes his head when asked about how he became so informed about everything from physics to engineering. “I’ve blown up a lot of stuff!” he exclaimed. “And I’m not really kidding. You learn a lot by doing,” he laughed.

All that experience has come in handy, helping thousands of customers across the country as well as some customers of his competitors. “I’m sort of a thorn in their side,” he said of his competitors while recalling one very expensive sawmill that wouldn’t work. The manufacturer wouldn’t help the new owner and the owners were desperate to get their new investment working.

Jerry was able to identify the issues in one visit, order parts and go back another day to oversee part replacement, adjustments and repairs. “I’ve never seen anyone as depressed as that sawmill owner when I got there. By midnight just a few days later we had it running right,” he said. With millions invested in a mill that didn’t work, the owner might have lost everything on this endeavor if not for Jerry’s years of expertise.

He has also shared his knowledge with countless sawyers, the person who operates the mill. One example is Shawn Cramer, an employee of the Zaleski State Forest. The state forest had a Frick sawmill which was destroyed by fire in recent years. Albright built the new sawmill that replaced it. He has been teaching the crew that operates it.

“There were one or two of us out there with some experience but the rest of us were greener than grass. He’s given us direction and helped us understand things better and helped us learn from our mistakes,” Cramer said. “He’s been nothing but helpful.”

Jerry is proud to say that the timber used for the new Lake Hope State Park Lodge was sawn by the Zaleski State Forest crew on a Frick sawmill. “When I visit, they let me play a little so, a couple of those beams in the lodge, I sawed myself. If you look up at the beams some of them have been sanded down and you’ll see the words Zaleski State Forest burned into them.”

Jerry also is known for a saw sharpener that he designed for accurate, safe and easy use.

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At home with Jerry and Debbie Albright. The couple have been married forty years and are known for their involvement in the community.

Debbie, his wife of forty years, smiles as her husband speaks of his business. “He’s so much fun to listen to and, I know he thinks I’m crazy when I say this but he practically glows when he talks about his work. I don’t know many people who get that truly excited about their work,” she said. “But sometimes I think he’s happiest on the phone troubleshooting someone’s problem or looking for a solution,” she said before describing her husband’s tendency to go the extra mile for customers.

“Over the years, with smaller operations where these guys can’t afford an expensive breakdown, he’ll be out scavenging for parts, looking for a good way to solve their problem so they can get back to work,” she said.

Another interesting twist in his story is that Jerry has assisted the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in two states with identifying ways to make sawmills safer. Historically, the industry has been dangerous and some of Jerry’s own relatives have been injured or killed in sawmill and logging accidents. Today he is working to make the industry safer for a new generation of workers.

Jerry and Debbie have three grown children – Angie who helped with the books through high school and college; Jerrod who now does the hammering; and Jordan who is studying Business at Rio Grande College and works in the office on breaks and creates digital concepts of drawings of sawmills. Son-in-law, Chad Hafner, has worked weekends at the Londonderry location.

They also have two grandsons, Michael and Matthew, who Debbie says are “dying to get into the sawmill business.” The two teens have been helping their grandfather since they were tots just big enough to hold a broom or a paint brush. “I’ll put them to work painting parts or something. They just like to help,” he said.

The pair beam as they talk about their family and of how they have been able to employ lots of family over the years. “All of my brothers but one, nephews, nieces and brothers-in-law. My sister has been my bookkeeper for years. It really is a family affair and that’s important, I think.”

“I’ve been lucky to have been able to hire many friends, neighbors and relatives over the years to produce quality equipment, and that has helped me stay in business over forty years,” he added.

Today, the company employs ten people and last year they manufactured about a dozen sawmills. Jerry said they stay as busy as he wants to be given that it is important to him that they have free time for family. When their kids were in school, Albright coached youth basketball, baseball and softball for thirty consecutive years.

When son Jerrod competed on an international traveling basketball team, his team competed once in Australia. Debbie and Jerry went with the team, taking along Jordan who was just a toddler at the time. Debbie recounted how the team coach was ejected from the game after a few warnings. Without a coach they faced disqualification so Jerry stepped up to coach the last few minutes of the game. “It was just a few minutes but for a while there I was an international coach,” he laughed.

“I am a lucky man. The people I have met, the people I do business with, they’re the best people in the world. You won’t meet nicer people,” he said “And I’ve been able to make a living doing something I enjoy. Helping people, fixing things, doing the things that no one else around knows how to do,” he said. “I am fortunate.”

Albright Saw Company has two locations – the original on Pretty Run Road in Vinton County and a retail location near Londonderry in Ross County. Learn more about Albright Saw Company on Facebook.

 

We Are Here For You

These are challenging times for Americans. Whether you’re an essential employee, working from home, or not working at all, everyone has dilemmas ahead. Some of you are homeschooling your kids for the first time and need ways to keep them busy. Some of you are quarantined alone and need ways to keep up morale. Many of you are essential, working overtime, and fearful of what will happen if you get sick.

Here for You BadgeSome of you are struggling financially and in other ways.

We want you to know that we will be here for you no matter what the future holds. The wonderful thing about being a community bank is that we are able to quickly change with the times and adapt to the needs of our customers.

VCNB President Mark Erslan praised bank employees for how well they have adjusted in changing times. “I’m amazed at how quickly our employees have been able to adapt to this fluid situation. We’ve had a mix of employees working from home and in our limited access lobbies doing what we can for our customers. Whether we’re discussing options for payment relief or how to bank remotely or helping a customer refinance a mortgage without physically coming in the bank, our employees are working hard to adapt and do what they must to get the job done,” Erslan said. “We’ve been handling routine requests in new ways and our volume has been significant.   Our customers have been very understanding and patient with us as well.”

Our lobbies are available by appointment only and transactions are handled through the drive-thru, except in Jackson where they are practicing social distancing in the absence of a drive-thru. Some of our branches have made some small changes to their business hours as well. We are encouraging customers to take advantage of all the tools that allow them to bank and communicate with us from home. That’s for your safety and ours as we do our part to flatten the curve in our state.

With that in mind, we have been working to educate customers on the various ways they can safely do their bank business. For example, we recently wrote about the ins and outs of banking outside the branch  and about how the ATM can be used for more than accessing cash and account balances.

We have been interviewing our branch managers for a blog series called “Meet Your Banker.” It’s been fun telling their unique stories. It’s also been heartwarming to hear very similar messages from them all about how they love getting to know their customers and helping people.

As community bankers, we love people and we are committed to being here for you – not just when times are easy – but all the time.

That’s why we’re offering relief options for both personal and business customers. If you are experiencing financial difficulty related to COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. Simply call our Customer Service Team at 1.800.542.5004. They will be happy to connect you with the right person who can explain your options and help you best.

We look forward to the day things go back to normal and we are able to greet you in our lobbies. Meanwhile, we encourage you to stay safe wherever you are and know that VCNB is still here for you.

As always, thank you for your patience and for allowing us to be your community bank through this challenging time. Follow us on Facebook and subscribe to this blog to keep up to date with all the ways we are here for you and proud to be your community bank.

 

 

 

 

Lending A Hand With Hand Sanitizer

Once commonly found in every retail store across America, hand sanitizer has become one of the most difficult commodities to buy thanks to COVID-19. This has been especially troubling to front line essential workers who don’t have immediate and frequent access to soap and water.

Tom Faris

Tom Faris used his business to make hand sanitizer for essential workers.

Vinton County native Tom Faris saw a need for hand sanitizer and decided to do something about it. Faris is a chemist who owns Vampire Optical Coatings in Pataskala. For the last seventeen years, the business has made films that control the reflection of light. In doing so, Vampire Optical has a 275 gallon stainless steel mixer and access to commercial quantities of ingredients, providing opportunity to make a great deal of money off this high demand product.

Instead, he made a large batch and gave it away.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” Faris said. “This is going to sound silly but I was contacted by someone who wanted me to help them get the supplies to make a bunch of hand sanitizer and charge an ungodly rate for it. And it made me mad so I decided to make it and do the exact opposite. I gave it away.”

At first, Tom said he wasn’t convinced the hand sanitizer shortage was as bad as the media made it sound. But after talking with a neighbor who is a Licking County Sheriff’s Deputy and to his mother, an Administrative Assistant at the Vinton County Sheriff’s Department, he learned there was a dire need for the product among first responders around the region.

So he set about making and bottling 200 gallons of hand sanitizer. Some went to sheriff’s departments in Franklin, Licking, Muskingum and Fairfield counties. The rest, his mother Lottie Faris carried back to southern Ohio for distribution where it was needed. She got it out to police and sheriff’s departments in Jackson, Gallia, Meigs, Athens and Ross counties as well as in Vinton County where it went to cops, EMS, fire departments, the nursing home, and even to Vinton County National Bank.

McArthur Branch Manager Jeremy Robson expressed his gratitude to Tom and Lottie. “With our retailers having limited supplies, we were fortunate to have been given the sanitizer. Cash is dirty and we make every effort to keep our employees safe so it was a great relief,” he said. “We are grateful to have been thought of as a place to donate to and I know all the other places that benefited from his generosity are grateful too.”

Lottie said that she has heard nothing but kind words and thanks. “As I was calling around to the sheriff’s offices in the area, they were so grateful to get it and several offered to pay. We just wanted to get it out to as many places as we could to slow the spread of the virus,” she said. “When Tom thought about someone else price gouging to get ahead, well that’s not how he was raised and he just wanted to donate and give back instead.”

The 1989 Vinton County High School graduate grew up at Creola and studied chemistry at Ohio University. He said that he was glad to help and downplayed his efforts. “It took about five hours to make and bottle it all. Just a half day’s work so it wasn’t too bad,” he explained. “I think it has given people peace of mind.”

He did make a second batch which he has sold to businesses like VCNB at cost.

Thanks to Tom and Vampire Optical for their generosity and kindness and to Lottie for her hard work as well. We appreciate what you have done to keep our employees and customers safe! Click here to learn more about Vampire Optical.

Meet Your Banker: Jeremy Robson

Our lobbies may be closed but our bankers are still here to help you! Today we continue our “Meet Your Banker” series by talking with Jeremy Robson, the Branch Manager at our Vinton County National Bank in McArthur.

Jeremy Robson

Jeremy Robson

Ask Jeremy about his new position managing VCNB’s original location and he focuses on how much he appreciates the bank’s role in the community. “I like being able to impact where I come from and I like having the means to get out there and help wherever we’re needed,” he said.

Jeremy is a well known face to many – the 2006 graduate of Vinton County High School may be remembered as captain of the high school football team. Since then, he graduated from The University of Rio Grande with a B.S. in Business Management and minor in Accounting before working as a manager at Kenworth in Chillicothe.

It was in 2018, when his son was just two, that Jeremy realized he was looking for something different in his career and made the move to VCNB as part of the Management Trainee program. The program molds college graduates into VCNB leaders of the future. Most of his training took place under the leadership of former longtime McArthur Branch Manager Jane Nickels. “I’m so grateful to have spent all that time under Jane’s wing and I’m thankful for all the mentoring and guidance she gave me,” he said.

“I grew up here and my family has always banked here -my grandpa, my mom and dad -I’ve had a savings account here since I was about ten years old,” he recalled. “I wanted better balance with my job and personal life. The bank has always been a stable employer in Vinton County, always involved and respected and community minded. Since I already had a vested interest in the bank it just felt like the right place to be.”

Like most community bankers, Jeremy talks about helping people and being active locally. “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!” he exclaimed. “Right now, with the kids at home, it has meant a lot to all of us that we were able to pitch in and help get food to some of those kids,” he said when talking about a recent donation of care packages made by employees and a planned monetary donation from the bank. “That’s what it’s all about. Positively impacting our community.”

Jeremy and his wife Shelley will celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary later this year. They have one son and currently live in Londonderry but are actively looking to move back to Vinton County.

With bank lobbies closed, Jeremy said that he and the entire McArthur staff have had to adjust to new ways of doing things. “We’re so used to telling people who have a problem just to come in and we’ll fix it. Now, instead of fixing you a cup of coffee and sitting down with you, we have to find other ways to resolve issues and take care of our customers. They can still get their business done, it’s just that the way they do business may look a little different for now,” he explained. “Regardless, we’re here for you, just a phone call away!”

 

 

 

 

Select VCNB Branches Adjust Hours

Some of our branches are temporarily adjusting their hours to maintain safe environments for our employees. While we regret inconveniences caused to our customers, these changes are necessary. See the list below to learn if your local branch has been effected.

Please remember that most of our branch lobbies are offering services through the drive-thru only at this time. We encourage customers to use contactless means of doing business such as Online and Mobile Banking. Deposits can be made via Express Drop and at most VCNB branch ATMs which we are disinfecting regularly. Our Customer Service team is ready for your calls at 1.800.542.5004 and our branch staff will be happy to serve you via the phone and drive-thru. If you require services that cannot be completed outside the branch lobby, please call your local branch to discuss your options.

VCNB_V_CMYKCommercial Point
Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday Closed

Grove City
Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. to 5 pm.
Saturday 8 a.m. to noon

Jackson
This branch continues to practice social distancing as it has no drive-thru at this time.
Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m.
Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed for lunch from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday
Saturday 8:30 to noon

Richmond Dale
Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday 8:30 to 6 p.m.
Saturday Closed

Wilkesville
Monday – Tuesday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WednesdayClosed
Please note that items place in the Express Drop after 4 p.m. on Tuesday will not be processed until Thursday
Thursday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 8:30 to noon

Banking Without Coming In

VCNB_V_CMYKWe have customers who have banked with us for years without coming into a branch more than a time or two. Want to know their secrets? We’re going to spend some time in the next couple of weeks doing a deep dive into how all of this works but for today, we’ll give you an overview. You’ve heard of thinking outside the box? We want you to think outside the bank!

Many of our customers receive their payroll, income tax returns, social security income, and unemployment income by direct deposit. This means they don’t wait for a check to arrive. Instead, the funds are automatically deposited into their bank account. No wait, no trip to the bank. It’s just there for them.

Customers who don’t come to the bank use their debit cards a lot and get their cash either at the ATM or at the check-out in the store. Since we have joined the MoneyPass® network, VCNB customers have access to a nationwide network of over 32,000 surcharge-free ATMs. That means, no matter where you go in the United States, you are likely near an ATM where the surcharges are free. Read more about that here.

Those customers make deposits using the ATM, Mobile Deposit on their phones, or even through Express Drop at the bank. Mobile Deposit takes checks and you’ll receive immediate credit for up to $1,000 per day if the deposit is made correctly. Checks and cash can be deposited at the ATM and through Express Drop.

These customers who prefer banking outside the branch also know they can apply for loans, open accounts and find many of their answers online. However, they also know how to reach us if they need us. They know that we’re just a phone call or online chat away.

As community bankers, we like people. We like to talk to our customers and get to know them. We like running into our customers at the ball game or in the store. Unfortunately, this period in our life calls for temporary changes and distance.

We thank you for your patience and for allowing us to be your community bank through this challenging time. Follow us on Facebook and subscribe to this blog to keep up to date with all the ways VCNB is here for you and proud to be your community bank.