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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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: Nicole Scott

Our lobbies are available by appointment only but our bankers are still here to help you! Here we continue our “Meet Your Banker” series by talking with Nicole Scott. Nicole is the Branch Manager of our Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Bremen.

Nicole Scott

Nicole Scott is the Branch Manager of our Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Bremen.

When Nicole talks about life as a community banker during COVID-19 the conversation quickly turns to others. “I miss seeing our regular customers and I worry about many who are struggling. In fact, I really miss a lot of the face-to-face contact that we’ve always taken for granted,” she said. “Most of all, I miss being able to shake hands with my customers.”

Nicole’s path to Branch Manager was somewhat unusual. She has a degree in Human Services and Corrections from Hocking College but she took a job with another bank’s operations department about fifteen years ago. The work suited her and she moved to a similar role at VCNB four years later. She calls her time in that department “rewarding and training like no other.”

In 2016, Nicole was involved in an accident that put her on a year-long path of recovery, nearly causing the loss of her arm. “I did some soul searching. That kind of experience makes you wonder what will happen if you don’t get better. It makes you question if you’ve done everything you should be doing” she said. “I define failure as making the choice not to do more when you know you can do more. So when I felt like I hit a plateau in my position in operations, I knew it was time to challenge myself and set new goals.”

She believed her purpose was to help customers. So she took the leap into the VCNB Personal Banker Program and worker her way up to Branch Manager in Bremen. Today she enjoys leading her branch employees and helping them grow. She also has strong feelings about community involvement. “I just love helping where I can.”

Nicole is Vice President for the Bremen Area Chamber of Commerce and will soon graduate from the Fairfield Leadership Program. She also seeks opportunities to show kindness to others both in her personal life and through charitable giving at the bank. For example, when she heard about an effort by the Mithoff to provide Fairfield County families with Easter baskets and holiday dinners, she jumped right in to help. “They provided dinners for about six hundred families and baskets for several hundred kids. What the bank was able to contribute, what I was able to contribute, was very small in the context of so many in our community who stepped up to help,” she said. “I was in awe of what they were able to accomplish with everyone pitching in.”

Nicole has three children and is the author of two published novels. She also enjoys long range rifle shooting and is proud to say she can hit a target at a thousand yards. An avid traveler, she seeks out unique and memorable experiences.

She looks forward to the day lobby doors are again open to customers. “We try to check on many of our customers now. We want them to know we are thinking about them but it will be a joyous day when we can open our doors and see them again!”

Meet Your Banker: Josh Palmer

Our lobbies may be closed but our bankers are still here to help you! Today we kick off our “Meet Your Banker” series by talking with Josh Palmer, the Branch Manager at our Friendly Bremen Banking Center of Pataskala.

Josh Palmer

Pataskala Branch Manager Josh Palmer

Josh came to work for the bank in 2015 when he was hired for the VCNB Management Trainee Program. This program gives college grads an intimate look at the bank and an overview of several important departments. “I met my wife at college and she had taken a job in Wellston so I was looking for work near her. I saw the ad and it talked about this management trainee program where you could do research and learn different jobs. It sounded right up my alley so I applied,” he explained.

The OU grad has a B.A. in History with a minor in Business. He had worked as a teller for another bank so he had some valuable customer service skills as well. As a Management Trainee, he worked in a few departments but mainly in Chillicothe and McArthur. After the two year Management Trainee Program, Josh was assigned to be the first Branch Manager for the Jackson County Banking Center, the bank’s new branch in Jackson. “That was a challenging and fun adventure,” he recalled.

However, he and his wife Jess are central Ohio natives and longed to be closer to family. She accepted a position teaching for Teays Valley Schools and he was able to transfer to a new adventure in Pataskala. “It worked out well that my wife found a job up here and we had an opening in Pataskala,” he said.

Josh has been managing this office for about 16 months and says he has enjoyed getting to know the community. “There are so many wonderful things about this job but one of them is that we are encouraged to be involved in the community and to get out and meet people. In Jackson it was Rotary and Community Action. Here it’s things like A.M. Spirit in Granville. You don’t find a lot companies that really value community,” he said.

In his free time, Josh enjoys the arts and has long been motivated and excited by drawing. He also enjoys running and is excited to again be part of the bank’s Buck Fifty team in Ross County.

One interesting quality about Josh is that he has this creative side but he’s equally at home with spreadsheets. “I love to do research and to track progress. It’s fun for me to help others get the spreadsheets and things they need or to help them learn from the data they have. I know it’s strange to enjoy that” he exclaimed.

While the bank lobbies are currently closed because of COVID-19, Josh reminds customers that they can still do all their banking and accomplish their goals. “We just have to be creative and stay positive right now. You can still accomplish what you need to do – it just may not be the way you normally do it. You may need to learn a new skill set and you may find that the new way is better than the old,” he said. “Regardless, we are still here for you and we are ready to find solutions for whatever you need.”

Small Business Spotlight: Robert K. Fox Family YMCA

YMCA - Debt Free - Ron Collins with Board of DirectorsThe Robert K. Fox Family YMCA in Fairfield County was one of the first stories in our Small Business Spotlight series. Many exciting things have happened here since that first spotlight in 2015.

The latest and most exciting piece of news is that theorganization heads into this new decade debt-free!  That’s right – the loan taken out for their nearly twenty year improvement project was paid off at the beginning of this year thanks in large part to the generosity of an anonymous donor who has been contributing to the cause for nearly a decade.  This project officially got under way in 2000, allowing for the expansion and renovation of the main campus. Paying it off has allowed the program – and its personnel – to breathe a little easier.

CFO Kerry Sheets recalled how it came about.  “I remember it was Christmas time in 2013, which is already a stressful time.  And an individual approached our office and said they wanted to help.”  The donor laid out a plan and committed monies on the spot – seven payments over seven years to be exact.

“I cried.  Oh, I cried” Kerry recalled.  Without this donor, the YMCA in 2008 would have faced some hard decisions.  Operating funds were being set aside in order to ensure payment of the huge loan they had undertaken, and expenses were being evaluated.  After the donor’s offer, the situation essentially changed overnight.  “And sure enough, I woke up, came in one morning, and there is a donation check waiting for us.”  This continued six additional times, and was a key factor in the Y’s ability to celebrate their “Debt-Free 2020.”

In addition to paying off the loan, they also recently opened the River Valley Campus (RVC) branch, a brand new second location created in partnership with Fairfield Medical Center.  Officially opening in September 2019, the RVC was a years-long project that evolved far beyond the initial concept.

“We were approached initially by Fairfield Medical Center who were in the planning stages and they had some ideas about child care” said Robert K. Family Fox YMCA’s CEO, Howard Long.  The YMCA was intrigued by the potential partnership, so as the ideas began to flow and the model for what the medical center could be began to evolve, so too did the Y’s involvement in the project.

“We all have the same goals.  We just want the community to be healthy” explained Howard.  It made the partnership a no brainer, and what came out of it was a brand new, fully functional YMCA facility, operated and maintained by YMCA employees.

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From day one the public response to the spacious facility and the latest and greatest in exercise science equipment has been nothing but positive.  “It’s been an amazing partnership” Howard beamed, before referring to the value the new facility adds for Fairfield Medical Center, the YMCA, and their members.  “Our brand has a value and that was recognized.  Our logo is prominently displayed.  It’s fully functional – a brand new second branch.  It’s instant value for our members!”

The RVC has quickly become a model for YMCA programs across the state to follow.  “I’m taking calls and meetings all the time” said Howard.  “They want to know how we did it, and this is really a model of how to do it right.”

But Y members will be happy to know that the newest locationisn’t the only facility getting all of the attention.  The main branch’s Wellness Center has seen updated carpeting, equipment, and HVAC systems, and the RecPlex continues to see growth.  The gymnastics program, in particular, has seen explosive growth and now requires the use of the facility’s second floor.  Additionally, their childcare program has grown significantly and has expanded into the former Sanderson Elementary School building.

This physical growth and expansion is in addition to program success – old and new – at the Y.  For example, Darkness to Light, a newer offering featuring the Stewards to Children program that Howard has been involved with since before his arrival to Fairfield County in 2018, helps adults learn how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.  To date, 253 adults have been trained through this program in Fairfield County. Our strong partnership with the Harcum House and United Way have made this program possible.

To say that the staff here is pleased with this growth would be an understatement.

However, all of the success and growth of the Robert K. Family Fox YMCA program would not be possible without the numerous donors and partners that contribute a tremendousamount of support.

Someone else who played a huge role in the YMCA we know today was the organization’s namesake – Dr. Robert and Dorothy Fox. “Without the Fox family and their foundation, the (main campus) addition wouldn’t exist.  We truly wouldn’t be where we are today without the generosity of them and their continued financial support,” Kerry said.

Donations from the community go directly into the Y’s Annual Giving Campaign (AGC), which topped $210,000 in 2019.  As part of that $210k, over $10,000 came from the generosity of the selfless YMCA staff members themselves.  Fittingly, the success of the AGC meant that the YMCA turned no one away in 2019 for their inability to pay.

If you’re interested in joining the Robert K. Family Fox YMCA, consider their Better Together program – a referral program that can earn you a savings of 20 percent.  For more information, contact Annie Weaver at 740.654.0616 x234 or at aweaver@ymcalancaster.org.

For full information on the Robert K. Fox Family YMCA and their programs, visit them online and follow all their latest happenings on Facebook.

 

Former VCNB President Ron Collins Has Retired

When Ron Collins stepped down as Vinton County National Bank President in December 2018, he didn’t actually leave the bank family. Instead, he stayed on as CEO, in an advisory role to assist newly minted VCNB President Mark Erslan through the transition. With a mind like a calculator and a keen understanding of banking, Ron was just the ninth president in the bank’s long and storied past and was eager to ease the bank into a new era of leadership.

Ron CollinsRon joined the VCNB family when he came to First Bremen Bank as Head of Lending in 1998. He was named President of the First Bremen Bank in 2001 and served in that capacity until being named President of Vinton County National Bank when the two banks merged in 2009.  One of his accomplishments was using his expertise as a skilled communicator and leader to soften the differences between the two banks, finding common ground and seeking ways to improve the combined operation.

During his career with VCNB, Ron used his vast knowledge of the lending world to improve the bank’s loan portfolio, making it both healthy and profitable.  He also oversaw the development of the Canal Banking Center in Canal Winchester, Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Pataskala and the Jackson County Banking Center in Jackson.

“When I started, the Bremen Bank was about $160 million in assets. Vinton County was over $200 million. Working together, we were able to bridge the gap and now we’re a billion dollar bank. That wasn’t just me. That was because of a lot of people,” he said “And I’m proud to say that we did all of that while staying true to our core values.”

“My wife asked me if I’m sad. Yes, I’m a little sad. It’s like leaving a part of yourself behind. But I have such a sense of accomplishment and a sense of excitement too. I’m excited for the future of our bank, I’m excited for Mark, and I’m looking forward to this next stage in my own life,” he explained.

When asked about his hopes for the bank’s future, Ron discussed VCNB’s place in the banking world. “A bank has to grow to succeed. But the more you grow, there’s risk of losing focus on the community part of community banking. We don’t want to be like the larger regional banks. There are plenty of them but there’s only one VCNB and what makes us special is our commitment to our communities. My hope is that we always offer that personal touch,” he said. “I also hope we always deliver what the customer wants. If they want to talk to a person, I hope there’s always a person to talk to. If they want technology, I hope we give them technology. Whatever is important to the customer should be important to us too.”

He went on to talk about the role of the bank president. “Every president leaves their own mark. We all do things a little differently but we all always put the bank first. That means focusing on the customer, the community, and our employees. As long as we continue to do that, we will do well,” he said. “Mark has been with us for a long time. He understands our culture and what’s important to us so I have no doubt he will lead us well.”

After a lengthy career managing people and learning the ins and outs of different types of workplaces, Ron has much wisdom to share with a young person starting out in business. “I would say you have to ask yourself some questions. Where do I want to go? What do I want from life and from my career? Can I get there with this job or this company? I’ve had offers to move elsewhere but I love our culture and the people I work with. Another job might mean more money but I could be sacrificing things that are important to me,” he added.

What things are important to him?

“Health, family and job. These are the most important things and you have to balance the first two so you can take care of the third,” he said. “You have to look at the total package. We have one employee who can attest to that. She had a good job making good money in another field. But she worked long hours and missed out on a lot. When she asked once to go see her kid play baseball and they told her no, she knew it was time for a change,” he recalled.

He went on to describe the VCNB culture which encourages employees to maintain their health, to volunteer in the community, spend time with family and to have a happy life. “I love our culture here and the people I work with. You spend more time with your coworkers than anyone else in your life. You better like where you are when you go to work.”

Ron officially retired January 31 but he isn’t in any hurry to make a lot of plans. He wants to volunteer somewhere that he can work hands-on with elderly citizens. He enjoys fishing and travel and often combines the two passions. He anticipates visiting the last few states he hasn’t yet seen.

Ron also looks forward to spending time with Gail, his wife of more than forty years, who he credits for supporting him through a host of moves and career advancements over the years. “I couldn’t have done it without her,” he said with a smile.

They have two grown children, Jill and Ron Jr, as well as three grandchildren. “It’s our time. Gail and I will be free to do what we please without the pressures of running a company,” he said. “It’s bittersweet, retiring, but I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

VCNB will host a retirement party for Ron at Kingy’s Pizza in Canal Winchester from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, February 14. The public is invited to attend.

While he won’t be coming to work every day, he will remain a part of the bank family as he plans to remain on the Board of Directors. “It was a pleasure and honor to lead this organization and be able to work with such dedicated people. It’s been my dream job and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Stuart Burial Vaults

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!

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This month’s Small Business Spotlight is with a business that recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. While they provide a service that most people need at some point in their lifetime, it isn’t the kind of business most of us frequent or even know exists.

Does this sound like a riddle?

It’s not really. The company in question is Stuart Burial Vaults, a family owned business that is still in their original building in Bremen.

“The vault is not what the public sees.  They know us for the tent they see when they arrive to the site in the funeral procession” says John Boone who is just the fifth owner of the 100 year old business.  “We take pride in the vaults we make as well as helping to provide a tasteful presentation for family and friends who want to honor their loved ones.”

Stuart Burial Vaults was started by John Stuart, a contractor and businessman who was making a name for himself in the early 1900s through his quality of work and his 9-bag mix of concrete.  As his reputation grew so did the size and importance of his projects.  He worked on bridges and roadways throughout the county that long outlived their expected lifecycle. He was even asked to consult with the construction of the Hoover Dam in Nevada!  Stuart was able to send his son to be on-site during the construction while he stayed home to run the vault business he created in 1919.

80424136_1488441691310400_2659597844519845888_nStuart Burial Vaults was actually one of the first four concrete vault businesses in the country.  In addition to creating and running the business, John Stuart was also a founding member of the National Burial Vault Association, which helped establish industry wide guidelines and standards.

“Just like Mr. Stuart 100 years ago, we work hard and take pride in what we do and we’re proud of it” John Boone beamed.

To say there is more than meets the eye to the business would be an understatement.  It’s not commonly known, but the customer base for a vault company is primarily made up of funeral directors.  Funeral directors order directly from the vault company. Then John and his team arrange for the delivery of the vault, the set-up of the presentation as well as the installment, tear-down, and return afterwards.

John estimates there are five appointments on the schedule of a typical day.  However, there have been more than twenty scheduled for a single day in the past. While this is a challenge, he credits his team’s professionalism and determination for always making it work out.  “If it can be done, we’ll find a way.  It’s amazing – we always work it out!”

Stuart Burial Vaults has nine trucks, a fleet of “buggies” for vault transport, and eleven employees on staff in addition to John.  John is tasked with orders, logistics, billing, and much of the day-to-day business dealings but he credits Foreman Delbert Hammer for making the business operate smoothly. “These guys are my heroes” John says repeatedly when referring to his team. “And Delbert is critical to our business.”

On days with fewer appointments, the crew works on creating and maintaining inventory.  That way, when they do have couple of days or weeks with busy schedules, they have the inventory to fulfill orders.

“The crew of guys we have now has been with me for years.  They can go out and wrestle a 2,000 pound vault in a muddy cemetery – handling it safely – and still have to bring a nice white tent back to me after it’s all said and done.  We have to have our tent look like this (points to pristine white tent in a photo) on a cold, wet, rainy, muddy, snowy day and still bring it back looking like this.”“They’re always on call.  Saturdays, holidays, bad days, good days.  We’re always on call just like police or doctors or firefighters.  These guys are my heroes.”

John first joined the Stuart team when he was sixteen and has spent most of his life in the business.  Now in his fifties, he owns the business after a lifetime of watching the industry and society evolve.  Cultural and societal shifts, insurance costs and coverage, costs associated with materials, and the wants and needs of funeral directors are things that have impacted the business.  “It didn’t change a bit for eighty years!  And now in the last decade things are changing quickly… but at the end of the day, it’s cement, sand, water, and gravel for us.  And it always will be.”

In addition to crediting his staff, John also credits his customers for the sustained success of the century year old business.

“My customers are great people.  I don’t have to worry and deal with some of the not-so-fun stuff that other businesses have to worry about.” John explained.  “Most of our customers have been with us for a long, long time.  Decades.” John explained. “I’m so lucky!”

Stuart Burial Vaults is located at 527 Ford Street, on their original site in Bremen. Visit their website to learn more. Friendly Bremen Banking Center and the VCNB financial family would like to congratulate John and his staff, and all of the previous owners and employees on reaching such a milestone!

 

 

What We’re Grateful For: VCNB Employees Give Thanks

Thanksgiving Greeting Card

Every day is a good opportunity to give thanks but we’re especially mindful of how fortunate we are during November and this season of thanks. As a community bank, we know we are lucky to do business in such wonderful towns and communities across southern and central Ohio.

We are thankful for customers, many of whom have been with us for years if not decades. Some hail from families that have done business with VCNB since the 1860s. We are also incredibly thankful for our employees. Some of these folks have spent their entire careers with VCNB and are eyeing retirement while we have many newcomers who are eager to learn the VCNB way.

We asked our employees to tell us what they’re thankful for this year and here are some of the responses we received. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!

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I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made here at VCNB! I came in and was instantly made welcome by almost everyone! I’ve built a lot of wonderful friendships here and for that, I am forever thankful!

Johnathon Bentley
Personal Banker in McArthur

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I am thankful first and foremost for my family! I am also very thankful for all the military men and women that are or have served to keep us safe!! Finally I’m grateful to be living in Perry County around some wonderful neighbors that look out for each other!

Alyssa Holbrook
Personal Banker in Bremen

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I am thankful for the past seventeen years of employment with VCNB and the privilege of working with a great group of people.

Beth Bayless
Senior Personal Banker in Canal Winchester

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I am thankful for my wonderful family, my great friends and my health and job.

Alice McCloud
Teller in Wilkesville

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I’m thankful my wife and I were each able to transition to working in Columbus this past year. This has allowed us to move back to where we grew up and be close to family. It’s been so great to be back around both of our families, especially our niece and nephews.

Josh Palmer
Branch Manager in Pataskala

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I am most thankful for my boys who push me every day to be a better person and remind me what is most important in life. I’m thankful for the success and growth we continue to have at VCNB and the great people I get to work with across all lines of the bank. I am also really thankful for the holiday season that, despite all the to-do’s and crowds, gives us time to spend with loved ones, reflect on the past year, and look forward to the next.

Justin Pike
Chief Auditor

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Most of all, I am thankful for my four boys – they are the loves of my life. I am also thankful to have an amazing fiancé, beautiful home and a job I love.

Melissa Wietelmann
Assistant Branch Manager in Ashville

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Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.

Erin Hart
Teller in Laurelville

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I’m so thankful for the family and friends in my life. They all mean so much to me. So happy to still have Mom here and doing well and that she and I can still travel to see family in Tennessee and Florida.

Paula Goodfellow
Senior Retail Accounts Officer in Chillicothe

 

Darlene Merckle To Retire After Fifty Year Banking Career

When Darlene Merckle came to work for the Bremen Bank, she was a student at Fairfield Union High School who landed a part time job at the bank. On June 15, she will celebrate her well-earned retirement after a fifty year career with the bank.

Darlene Merckle 2

The kindness and professionalism of Darlene Merckle will be missed after her retirement from the bank this week.

Darlene’s name isn’t one that most customers know. However, scores of loan customers over the years have benefited from her expertise, hard work and dedicated approach to her job. That’s because she is an Indirect Loan Processor. That means she’s part of a select team of employees who are responsible for processing the loans that customers receive after applying at the dealership where they buy their automobile, RV, boat, motorcycle or other type of vehicle. While the loan documents can be signed at the dealership, there remains much work on the back end to insure that the loan is processed properly and the dealership paid.

But Darlene hasn’t always worked behind the scenes making dreams come true for customers.

She actually started at the bank at a time when employees had to be trained to do a lot of different jobs. “Back then, you did everything. Teller work, bookkeeping, you name it. We had to be able to do it all,” she said.

In those days, bookkeeping was a manual affair where posted checks were checked against hand written ledgers. She recalls the bank using lots of large machines such as a proof machine which was used to process checks at banks prior to the advent of computers.

Since then, she has moved around some within the bank and has seen more changes in the banking industry than she can count.

At the Bremen Bank on Main Street in Bremen, she recalls several remodeling projects, town floods, the addition of new branches and the many shifting responsibilities of staff. She even recalls a time when a stray cat had a litter of kittens in the crawl space underneath the bank. “Lots of good memories,” she said with a chuckle and a twinkle in her eye.

While Darlene started as a teller, she also worked in new accounts for a period before finding her niche in loan processing. At that time, a customer’s loan documents were kept all together in large paper files. As the bank grew, it became necessary to begin breaking out files by loan type and to change the filing system. Later, computers made it easy to scan and file documents, altogether eliminating the need for paper records.

She also recalls the many regulation changes that impact how a customer applies for a loan and the kind of information needed from the customer. “There was a time when there were no disclosures given, no application. There was just a note you signed promising to pay it back,” she said. “And I remember when we first started having customers fill out an application. It was a hard thing for some of our customers because they had never had to apply.”

Today, buyers can apply for a VCNB loan from the dealership. It’s a quick process that provides the customer with a convenient way to borrow money from VCNB when and where they need it and without making a trip to the bank.

Once the borrower is approved and they sign the documents at the dealership, Indirect Loan Processors like Darlene take over. They build the loan into the bank’s system and pay the dealership from their office in Lancaster.  “I like doing the behind the scenes work and I’ve always been fascinated by numbers,” she said. “It’s been a good fit.”

With just a few days left on the job, Darlene says she is looking forward to retirement. “It’s time to retire. Sometimes you just know. There’s not a reason I want to go now but I don’t want to wait too long either. I don’t want to wait until it isn’t fun anymore,” she explained. “Fifty years is enough time.”

The Fairfield County native looks forward to spending time with family including her two grown children and her five grandchildren as well as Mark, her husband of 45 years. “I’ll miss the people. Yes, I will miss my coworkers. A lot of them are like family,” she said wistfully.

And Darlene’s coworkers will miss her too.

Vice President of Indirect Lending Trisha Kyer is visibly saddened when speaking of Darlene’s upcoming retirement. The two have worked together for 25 years, forming a bond that extends beyond work. “She’s a good person and once you’re friends with her, she’s there for you for life,” Trisha said. “I think she knows everyone in the bank and they all lover her. I know this is best for Darlene but we’ll miss her.”

The bank will celebrate Darlene’s fifty year career with a reception at our West Fair branch in Lancaster on Friday, June 15 from noon to 3 p.m. The public is invited to stop by for cake and to wish Darlene well as she starts a new chapter in her life’s book.

“Who would’ve thought that little seventeen year old girl would still be here all these years later?” Darlene asked. “It’s hard to believe!”