What We Mean When We Say Relationship Banking

VCNB Billboard - Relationships Across Generations - (Rt. 50 Kenjoh Outdoor)

If you’ve seen our advertising and billboards this spring, you know that we’ve been talking about “Relationship Banking.” You might be wondering what that actually means.

To us, relationship banking is exactly what it sounds like. It’s about building relationships with our customers, bonds that last through a lifetime and often through multiple generations.

Whenever someone retires from our bank, we inevitably have customers who mourn the loss of their banker. For so many of our customers, their VCNB banker isn’t just someone who opens their account or loans them money. That person has helped them through many stages of life. From their first checking account to saving for a car or getting a first mortgage – their VCNB banker has offered sound advice over the years and has been with them through many stages of life.

This is how we’ve been successful for 152 years. We love helping you and hope to have the opportunity to help your kids and your parents and your friends as well. We want you to trust us so much that you open your child’s first passbook savings with us and that you don’t hesitate to recommend us to a friend searching for a new bank.

Our customer list is filled with countless examples of families who have been with us for generations. Don’t you want a banker you can trust? VCNB is here for you and for your lifetime of needs.

 

VCNB Team To Compete In The Buck Fifty

When the Buck Fifty kicks off in Chillicothe Friday afternoon, a team from VCNB will be among a field of nearly a hundred teams hoping to conquer the challenging overnight relay race through Ross County. The course winds through several communities, along back roads and through the area’s state and national parks. While the region’s rolling hills and winding roads make a scenic backdrop for a run, the course is a grueling 150 miles of physical and mental challenges.

But this relay race isn’t just about winners and losers. It’s also about raising money for an important cause in Ross County. Buck Fifty proceeds benefit the Drug Free Clubs of America Program in Ross County.

VCNB Head of Consumer Lending and VCNB Team Captain Tom Oyer said that helping raise money for this important cause was part of the reason the bank wanted to participate. “It’s an important cause here in Ross County. All the money raised is used to combat the drug problems in the community, specifically young people in schools,” he said.

Race jersey

Look for the VCNB team jerseys during the Buck Fifty Friday and Saturday!

The bank’s participation in this third annual event was actually the brainchild of VCNB President Mark Erslan and Personal Banker Dustin Nusbaum. An avid runner, Nusbaum logs ten to twenty miles every week and has supported the Buck Fifty since its inception three years ago.

The Buck Fifty funds this program which has attracted 65 percent of all Ross County high school students, using a drug free pledge, education and incentives to keep kids clean.

The race begins on Friday and ends Saturday, mainly with ten person teams and just a handful of elite five person teams. The bank’s team consists of ten people from Chillicothe and other areas where the bank has branches.

Each ten person team is divided into two vans, with one van on the road at all times while one person is running. While the terrain is challenging, the schedule is grueling. It calls for participants to run several miles at a time, at three different times during a 24 hour span.

By day, Bryan Radabaugh works as Vice President of Operations at the bank’s McArthur office. In his free time he’s been training and looking forward to some family time with his two grown children who have also joined the bank’s team. “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m in the same van as my kids so we’ll get to have some family time,” he said while describing the competitive spirit of son Bret, age 23, and daughter Hannah, age 20.

While Nusbaum has experience running this course, it will be a first time experience for the rest of the team. “It should be interesting for all of us. It’ll certainly be a challenge. You know, running is physical but it’s a mental thing too. Your body is saying ‘I can’t. I don’t want to do this.’ But you have to stay focused and use your mind to keep going,” Radabaugh said.

The VCNB Buck Fifty team consists of:

Mark Erslan, Chillicothe
Bryan Radabaugh, McArthur
Tom Oyer, Chillicothe
Mike Thurston, Pataskala
Gracie Rarick, Pataskala
Keirstan Mirgon, Lancaster
Josh Palmer, Pataskala
Dustin Nusbaum, Chillicothe
Bret Radabaugh, McArthur
Hannah Radabaugh, McArthur

“We’re all just proud to represent the bank and hope to do a good job,” Oyer said. “More than anything, we’re happy that the money raised at the Buck Fifty will be used for such a good cause.”

Best wishes to all of these volunteers who make up our team. We are proud of the work you do for the bank and look forward to seeing you compete this weekend! Want to learn more about the Bucky Fifty and how the money raised will be used locally? Click here for details.

A Fond Farewell: Earl Later Retires

Talk to Earl Later about how he spends his time outside of work and you have to wonder how he even finds time to work at the Salt Creek Banking Center. That’s actually no longer a problem for the longtime banker since he retired from the bank last week.

Earl has worked at our Laurelville branch since before it was part of the VCNB Financial Family. He started at Salt Creek Bank in 1995, bringing with him years of experience as a lender at other banks in Logan. When he started at Salt Creek, part of his job was to organize loan records and modernize forms to overhaul tracking and record keeping systems. “I spent a lot of time just getting files straightened out and updating forms so that we could have a better system moving forward,” he explained.

Earl Later retires 2He cut back to two days a week fifteen years ago but says he is now ready to retire from the bank and direct his attention elsewhere. And there is no shortage of things to keep him occupied.

Earl’s life with his wife Brenda keeps him active and busy. For the past six years, the two have been rearing two young boys – the children of Brenda’s deceased niece. Now aged 12 and 13, the boys are involved in school activities including soccer and basketball. “That keeps us going, having the boys and all their school work and sports and things they’re involved in,” he said.

Brenda also operates a cottage bakery business out of their home. From wedding cakes to party cupcakes to cheesecakes for a local restaurant, she stays busy with baking and decorating. He helps out as her runner, picking up supplies and assisting with deliveries.

He’s also looking forward to organizing his wood shop so that he can use it for future projects. And that’s without mentioning his ten acre Rockbridge property where he mows about five acres of grass, does snow removal and other maintenance.

Earl also credits a lifetime of hard work as he described growing up on his father’s farm. The Rockbridge property that now is home to a popular antique and craft mall was once his father’s busy farm.  “You name it, we did it. I drove tractor, baled hay in the summer when it’s hot. I learned to work hard.  Now I like to mow because it clears the mind, it’s a different world out here,” he said.

Earl also has a son, Mark, who lives in Logan. The pair have an annual tradition – they attend a NASCAR race together and try to visit a different track each time. “We’ve been to a lot of different tracks and we look forward to it every year.”

“Of course, I’ll miss talking to the customers and I’ll miss my coworkers but it’s a changing world and it’s a good time to retire. Nothing stays the same. That’s the one constant,” he said. “I like to keep the blood flowing. A lot of people, when they retire, they just sit down. The key is to keep active,” he said. “To me, old age is about fifteen years older than I am.”

 

Bonnie McDevitt To Retire This Week

Bonnie McDevitt retires 2019

Bonnie McDevitt

Ask Bonnie McDevitt to talk about herself and her upcoming retirement and her initial response is that there’s not really anything to talk about. Her next response is to start talking about the people in her work life and how much she will miss them.

A seasoned banker and customer service professional, Bonnie will retire on March 29 after working as a teller in our Pataskala branch for twelve years.

Before coming to work at our Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Pataskala, Bonnie worked as a teller for another bank for several years. Before that, she was Head Cashier at the JCPenney Outlet Store, working at the popular store for nearly twenty years.

Bonnie’s customers and coworkers will tell you that customer service is always her focus and priority. It is these people – her regular customers and her longtime coworkers – who Bonnie says she will miss the most. “I’ll miss a lot of customers, people I see regularly. But I’ll really miss my coworkers. Some of them I’ve worked with for a lot of years,” she said.

Retirement is something that has been on the horizon for some time. She cut back to part time hours three years ago, something that she says has helped with the adjustment. “I’ve gotten used to having free time so it’s not like I’ll just wake up someday and have nowhere to be.”

The Scio, Ohio native has been working since she was just sixteen years old. From babysitting to running a cash register to lots of other jobs in between, she says that growing up in the small Harrison County town was beneficial. “Never have I regretted growing up in a small town. It was a good place to grow up and I got a lot of good experience and values from being from a small town,” she recalled. “I’ve had a good life so far!”

While Bonnie looks forward to retiring, she is conscious of the need to stay busy and to have purpose in her life once she is no longer headed to the bank every day. She has two grown children and four grandchildren and her eyes shine with pride as she describes each of them. She particularly enjoys seeing her two youngest grandchildren participate in extracurricular activities including basketball and football.

Bonnie also has a group of girlfriends from her JCPenney days. They gather regularly to socialize and play Euchre. “We’ve been playing cards together for years and years. Some of those girls, I’ve known since they were young. Some of them for 34 years!”

“My daughter wants me to stay busy. She’s all the time on me to stay active and to have things to do so I think she’ll keep me busy” she said. “You have to have the right mindset. You have to have a positive mindset and to find ways to not become bored. It’s too easy for people to become depressed when they’re not active. I don’t want that, I want to stay active,” she said.

Bonnie is thrilled that spring has arrived as she sometimes walks in her Pataskala neighborhood. She also enjoys jigsaw puzzles and isn’t intimidated by the challenging ones. She intends to volunteer some and hopes to soon begin volunteering at Mt. Carmel Hospital. She’s already talking about finding a small part time job once the newness of retirement wears off.

“Life is a journey and I’m ready to enjoy the next chapter,” she exclaimed!

Bonnie’s last day will be Friday, March 29. Customers are invited to stop by that day to celebrate and enjoy cake and punch.

 

Laurelville Lobby Reopens Monday

Since we began remodeling the Salt Creek Banking Center in mid-January the lobby has been relocated to the back of the building where customers have used the back entrance and are sometimes inconvenienced by our construction.

This is why we couldn’t be more thrilled to say that the wait is over and the lobby remodel is complete. Customers may resume using the front door on Monday!

With this remodeling project, the bank is embracing a new style of doing business that we believe will be not just aesthetically pleasing but a better experience for the customer.

The remodeled space is light and airy with digital screens for advertising and a wall featuring images from the town’s long history. The drive-thru has been reconfigured as well and now uses a video system for customers to interact with their bankers through high definition cameras and monitors.

More importantly, most of the staff has been trained to be Personal Bankers who can help customers with most of their banking needs.

The idea actually harkens back to an earlier time in banking when every employee could help a customer with almost all their needs. Whether customers are making a deposit, opening an account or applying for a consumer loan, Personal Bankers can help with all these needs without passing the customer off to another employee.

Branch Manager Holly King is enthused to begin using the new space.  “I am very excited that the new lobby opens on Monday! I cannot wait for my wonderful customers to see the beautiful history wall and experience this exciting time with us,” she said.

Customers and the public are welcome to stop by to see the work we’ve done. “Even if you don’t have bank business, we hope you’ll stop by to see how nice it looks and to have a cup of coffee with your bankers,” Holly said.

Other improvements include some upgrades to back office areas and to the building exterior.

 

Small Business Spotlight: Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio

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

window and bernie

Bernie Evans talks about the work needed to repair this church window in his workshop at Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio.

To the casual observer, a piece of stained glass art is just that – a pretty piece of art. But talk to Bernie Evans and you’ll quickly learn that working with stained glass involves a logical process that requires patience and problem solving skills as well as artistic ability.

Bernie is the mild mannered owner of Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio in downtown Chillicothe. The studio is a resource for all things stained glass including the tools and supplies for creating glass art, classes and workshops to learn the process, restoration and repair services for older panels, lampshades, and the creation of unique stained glass pieces for purchase. The walls of the retail space are lined with sheets of stained glass in nearly every color imaginable and the store features locally made stained glass pieces – both large and small.

What is surprising is that the business started out as just a hobby. Bernie explained that he had some health issues that put him off work from the paper mill in 2005. “I needed something to keep myself from going crazy and I just started playing with it,” he said.

retail 2

Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio features a number of locally created pieces that are for sale.

Guitar lamp

This dimensional guitar lamp was designed by Bernie. He donated one like it to Rock For Tots several years ago. It sold for $5,000 and was donated back the following year by the winner. It sold again for $7,000 that year.

After returning to work for several months, Bernie decided it was time for a change so he retired from his job and started the business from his home. He eventually moved into a small retail space in downtown. The business is now in the old Oddfellows Lodge on Paint Street, providing about 14,000 square feet of space as opposed to the 1,400 square feet available in his first storefront.

When asked how he learned the art, he said he is completely self-taught. “One of the things I got from my grandpa is my ability to pick things up pretty easily, to be able to learn on my own,” he said.

Employee Pam Hatton was cleaning a stained glass lamp when she chimed into the conversation. “His problem solving is incredible! Ingenuity is the word that comes to mind. If he can’t find the tool he needs, he makes it. And he can make or fix anything,” she praised.

He says that practice and patience are key to working with stained glass. “Practice and patience. Patience and practice. Students always want it to be perfect the first time and it just doesn’t work that way. It takes time to learn, practice to be perfect and you never stop learning,” he said.

He teaches the art in classes, workshops and other group settings that cover introductory to advanced techniques. His Introductory Class teaches the basics of the copper foil method of stained glass construction. Students will also learn about safety in glasswork, how to work with patterns, how to cut glass, grind, foil and solder. This class is typically held the first and second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is limited to six students.

Another popular class, the Lead Came Class is more advanced and teaches students how to construct panels with strips of lead came. This class is scheduled when there are enough interested students.

They also offer a class that teaches more advanced students to work dimensionally by building their own jewelry box or lamp shade. In addition, they welcome groups and parties for fused glass workshops.

20181219_135159.jpg

This piece is a Bernie Evans original.

Pam, now retired from the VA, came to Bernie and Max as a student.  “That was about six or seven years ago and I just never left,” she laughed. Now she works a few days a week, creating lovely pieces that are sold in the store.

Larger pieces can be created for residential, church or commercial clients. For example, windows of all sizes, kitchen cabinet doors, lamps and wall hangings are commonly created here.

As much as Bernie loves talking about stained glass and the education the studio provides, his eyes light up when discussing the restoration and repair services they provide. He seems most at home in his basement workshop where workbenches are covered in hundreds of multicolored tiles related to his current project – the restoration of a chapel window for Chillicothe Correctional Institution.

glass work

Bernie demonstrates the restoration process on part of a stained glass window from a chapel at Chillicothe Correctional Institute.

Each restoration piece is brought into the workshop where it is documented and rubbings are made before the piece is taken apart, the lead is removed, the glass is cleaned and it is put back together again using appropriate restoration lead.

Each case is unique. For the CCI project, Bernie had to design and fabricate special metal frames for each large section of the 26 foot tall, twelve foot wide window. “We never shy away from a challenge,” he acknowledged. “I like working on the old stuff. I like getting my hands on something that’s 150 or 175 years old,” he said with reverence.

That thought led Bernie to discuss the abundance of stained glass windows that have been damaged by the very methods employed to protect them. He talked about efforts taken in the last fifty years to protect the windows from acid rain, vandals and other threats by covering them with panes of glass or plexiglass. Unfortunately, when the sun shines directly on these windows, the air space is heated to a high temperature and the lead used to construct the windows is softened. “They thought they were doing good but, to do this properly, you need ventilation at the top and bottom to allow for air circulation. Now we are facing the consequences of these well intentioned actions,” Bernie explained.

While there are stained glass studios like his in Ohio’s cities, it’s uncommon to find this specialty in a small town. “There are very few that do this kind of work so we get a lot from outside the area. Columbus and Cincinnati have studios but there’s no one else left in southern Ohio.”

He credits his mother Mary Lou for her involvement in the studio from the very beginning. “She got involved and was an integral part of the studio.  She was here every day, making stuff until the age of 85,” when she passed away Bernie recalled. “We still have a few of her pieces here,” he explained as he pointed to the corner that was her workstation and where some of her last pieces she made still hang and will never be sold.

Bruno

Bruno is the store’s mascot, watchdog and host. Some customers pop in just to visit with him.

The other important character in the studio is a six year-old Pug named Bruno who is sort of the store’s mascot, watchdog and host rolled into one. Bruno comes running when customers pop in and ask for him, basking in the glow of attention. Bruno is clearly the apple of Bernie’s eye as the little dog provides both comic relief and companionship throughout the day.

Bernie is reluctant to share about the good things he does for the community but it is clear that the East End native and retired firefighter/EMT loves his town. He speaks fondly of a three dimensional guitar lamp that he donated to Rock For Tots several years ago. It sold at auction for $5,000. The next year, the buyer donated it back to the auction and it sold for another $7,000. “I just couldn’t believe how much it sold for and that it sold for even more the next year,” he recalled with a hint of pride in his voice.

After chatting about the ins and outs of the business, its origins, the cast of characters that come through the door and modern threats to antique stained glass, there was just one topic left to cover.

Who is the Max in the studio’s name?

Bernie chuckled at this question. “Max was my first pacer defibrillator,” he said, explaining that it’s official model name was Medtronic Maximo but Max for short. “The reason I was off work to take up stained glass in the first place was my health. I literally couldn’t have done it without Max,” he grinned.

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Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio is located at 65 N. Paint Street in Chillicothe. Stop by or call them at 740.775.1054. Click here to visit them online or to follow them on Facebook.

They are open Tuesday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

 

VCNB Breaks Ground On New Ashville Branch

PW Campbell, Mark and Tom

From left are Dan Fox and Charlie Sachs of PW Campbell, Community Bancshares Chairman and CEO Tom Will and VCNB President Mark Erslan.

Village Personnel, Mark and Tom

From left are Village Administrator Franklin Christman, Ashville Chief of Police Jeffrey George, Pickaway County Sheriff Robert Radcliff, Ashville Mayor Charles Wise, VCNB President Mark Erslan and Community Bancshares Chairman and CEO Tom Will

VCNB executives, board members, bank employees, local dignitaries and their guests braved the elements Monday to take part in an official groundbreaking event at the site of the new Pickaway County Banking Center in Ashville.

The estimated $2 million facility was designed by renowned financial industry designer/builder PW Campbell. It will replace the former bank building at 26 E. Main Street in downtown Ashville. The branch was temporarily relocated to 18 Long Street to make way for demolition of the old and construction of the new.

VCNB President Mark Erslan said he is enthusiastic about the bank’s future in this Pickaway County community. “The village of Ashville has been good to work with in the planning process and supportive of the project. We are pleased to invest in this community and to grow here,” he said.

Erslan went on to thank the Village of Ashville and its administration for their support through the planning process.

The new one story building will be over 5,000 square feet, boasting soaring ceilings and an open floor plan designed to modernize and simplify the banking experience. With entrances from Main Street and from the parking lot side, accessing the bank will be significantly easier as well. When opened, this branch will use the new VCNB bank model which will put the personal back in personal banking by employing bankers who can each assist customers with nearly every one of their banking needs.

“This new branch will feature a balance of updated conveniences for those customers who like to bank through digital channels along with the in-person service our customers have come to expect,” Erslan explained.

The completion of this branch will be celebrated with an open house in the fall.

Click here to read about our philosophy that an investment in the bank helps the community.

 

Supporting Community By Investing In Ourselves

Artists Renderings of the new Pickaway County Banking Center in Ashville

 

Last month we told you a little about our core values – the things we value most and that make us who we are. We talked specifically about how we value community and the things we do to support our communities through volunteerism, donations and encouraging our employees to get involved.

Another way that we support our communities is through investing in ourselves. That sounds a bit self-serving but we believe in taking care of our buildings and putting our best foot forward whenever possible. A well cared for branch that operates efficiently is an investment in the community as well as in ourselves.

That’s part of the reason we have been undergoing upgrades at some of branches for the last several months. Last year we updated the storefront of our Circleville location and we’re putting the finishing touches on work at our Grove City branch while renovation projects are in full swing at our Laurelville and Lancaster West Fair locations. We recently finished demolition and clean-up of our Ashville building to make way for a brand new facility.

Plans are in the pipeline for improvements at other branches in the coming years.

Supporting the community means being good neighbors and we hope you’ll be happy with the results as we modernize and improve our locations in the coming months and years. The next time you’re in one of the branches under construction, be sure to ask the staff about the plans and have a look at the artist’s renderings of the new work!

Kathy Cooper Retires This Week

kathy cooperWhen Kathy Cooper talks about her years as a banker, it’s clear that this has been a career and a passion rather than just a job. She will retire January 31, closing a 35 year chapter of her life’s book. But she insists this is just the end of a chapter and that she still has a lot of life and maybe even some new pursuits ahead of her.

Kathy has been with Friendly Bremen Banking Center since 2001 but had a varied and interesting career with other banks prior to that. In fact, she began her banking career in 1983 when she started as a part time teller at Equitable Federal Savings and Loan in Lancaster. Six months later she moved into middle management and hasn’t looked back since.

Kathy grew up in Lancaster on what she calls “Main Street USA.” Her father owned retail businesses in downtown Lancaster which she said was a quintessential small town. She wanted to be an educator but, after some time in the education program at Ohio University, decided this was not the career for her and took that first position as a part time teller.

Customers in Bremen often think of Kathy as the face of the bank as they often see her out and about in the community and because she is a veteran Bremen banker who has helped many of them realize their life’s dreams as their lender.

She has worn many hats in the world of banking and says that she has seen and done almost everything. From a bank run in the early eighties to changes in banking culture to holding a stock broker’s license for one of her prior employers, she said that every job and each person she worked with over the years taught her something. “I’ve been fortunate to have great individuals, maybe you would call them mentors, who took the time to ask questions and give feedback and to help form me,” she said. “I’ve met many interesting individuals who have helped me in some way and I’m grateful for that.”

When it comes to banking in general and lending in particular, Kathy has some strong opinions about what it takes to be successful in a hometown atmosphere. “You have to be approachable and be able to talk to people on their level so they feel comfortable using you as a resource. You have to be knowledgeable about all products and be able to help them with the big picture. You have to ask a lot of questions and be able to identify what’s best for the customer and any weaknesses that might become problems,” she said.  “Availability is key too. Customers know where I live. They have my cell phone. They know I’m tied to the community and that I’m here for them always – evenings, Sunday mornings – when they need me. And most of all, you have to treat people in an honest manner. That’s extremely important.”

Once she retires, Kathy said she has plans for projects around the house and yard. She also looks forward to a little light travel and some volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and the Fairfield Heritage Society. More than anything, she looks forward to spending time with family including daughter Sarah, son Zachary and her four grandkids. In fact, her eyes light up when she talks about Marin, Joseph, Isabelle and Camden, her grandchildren who she says are involved with a host of activities.

While time off work sounds appealing, she doesn’t expect retirement to last forever. “I’m just taking off my Peter Pan cape for a while. You never know what I’ll do next but I can tell you this. I’m like a bad penny. I just keep rolling back,” she laughed.

“It’s been great! It’s been a fun ride but now it’s time to turn the page,” she said.

Who We Are: Embracing Community Through Our Core Values

The theme of 2019 here at VCNB will involve something extremely important to us. We’ll be talking about our Core Values throughout the next twelve months.

You already know that we are a community bank and that we’ve been serving customers for 152 years but do you really know what we believe in and what we value? Our Core Values answer that question. They say that Community, Leadership, Integrity, Progress and Relationships are important to us.

Today we want to tell you a little about our Community philosophies and how we apply them.

When we have a branch in a community, we are there because we want to be part of that community. We want to be thought of as the neighborhood bank that looks after its customers, that provides jobs for locals when possible and that invests in the community where there is opportunity.

We leave it up to the management of local branches to determine how their community funds should be spent and we encourage our employees to be active through volunteerism and supporting local events.  In fact, we offer our employees some incentive to get involved – they can volunteer on bank time or receive a little time off when they volunteer on their own time.

It’s rewarding to hear about all the things our employees are doing in their communities. Some volunteer with food pantries and animal shelters while others are working with community theaters, helping out at events and even serving on boards.

Our public relations donations are spent in a number of ways. Large donations have been given in recent years to school programs, foundations and to groups that help seniors. Small donations are given to almost every type of event, fundraiser and organization imaginable.

We try to be good neighbors, to keep our offices looking nice and to be known in the community as a resource, not just for bank business, but for the community as a whole. We thank you for supporting us in your community.