Debbie Pickett Will Retire Friday

It’s a new year and soon to be a fresh start for Debbie Pickett who will retire tomorrow. She joined the bank family nearly twenty years ago when she came in to do some business and was invited to apply for a job. That was twenty years and a few job titles ago. While she still enjoys her job, she says it is time to go.

“I had it in my mind that I would retired at 65 and I’m almost there,” she said. “After all, you have to weigh how long you want to work with what you want to do when you finally retire and have time to do the things you enjoy.”

Debbie Picket RetiresDebbie started out as a teller at the Friendly Bremen Banking Center on West Fair in Lancaster.  Since that beginning in 2001, she has taken on other new and challenging positions both on the front line and behind the scenes. “Friendships grew with staff and customers. I have deep respect for those working on the front line. I became the receptionist there before moving to the East Main branch as Ned Hinton’s processor for several years. I learned so much from different seasoned employees which helped me later as I was promoted to a loan officer.”

She went on to serve as Branch Manager at our West Fair location but had developed a curiosity about the bank’s Indirect Department.

“I thought it was interesting, working with all our dealers. I was able to join the department full time in 2015 and have enjoyed working with our dealerships to grow our relationships for auto and other financing opportunities,” she recalled. “I like the relationship that we build with our dealers that provide trust and loyalty to us which in turn provides us with new customers to offer our services to. They choose to do business with us from our personal attention and reputation of good service.”

Before joining the bank family, Debbie had a varied career that started when she was a young car hop at Kenny’s, a popular hangout on Memorial Drive before she went into office supplies and even funeral planning. “I have always worked. It’s exciting to think I won’t have to anymore but it’s strange at the same time. What will it be like to not get up and go to work for someone else?”

The good news is that Debbie has a lot to keep her busy.  She has been saving projects for around the house and especially looks forward to having more time with family including her husband Mark, a daughter, a son, and grandkids.

“I often work after hours and on Saturdays so it will be wonderful to have more free time when the kids are not in school. I won’t have to wait for a day off to plan time with them. It’s also important to be available for my little granddaughters to come over to visit and to spend time at my grandsons’ sporting events. Being involved in their lives means a lot to me.”

Debbie has worked from home for much of the last year and says this time at home has aided in the transition to retirement. “I miss spending time at the office and the people I see there. But maybe having this separation from the office will make the shift to retirement a little easier,” she said. “I have developed friendships with so many of my coworkers. I’m sure to miss all those people.”

She expects to make a cake with her family to celebrate tomorrow night. “Every time we make a cake lately, my granddaughters want to sing the Happy Birthday song. I can hear them changing the words to ‘Happy Retirement to you!” she laughed.

“I have a lot to look forward to and I’m going to enjoy just enjoying life!”

Alice McCloud Will Retire On Christmas Eve

Longtime VCNB employee Alice McCloud is giving herself the gift of retirement this Christmas. In fact, Christmas Eve will be her last day as a teller in our Wilkesville branch. “I don’t think it has really sunk in yet that I won’t be coming back after Christmas. It doesn’t feel real yet,” Alice said.

Alice McCloud will retire on Christmas Eve.

Real or not, the day is fast approaching and Alice said that she is excited even though she will miss the people she works with and many of her customers. “I enjoy my coworkers and how we all get along. We help each other out and no matter what comes up, we work together. It’s fun being a part of that,” she said.

She also talked at length about her customers and what they mean to her. “Our customers are all so great. They make you feel like part of their family because they kid with you, they joke, and stand and talk to you even when they’ve finished their business. We have so many wonderful customers that I’ll miss,” she said.

She talked about helping regular customers and getting to know their needs. “You get to know them, you remember their account numbers and sometimes I know what they want before they tell me. That makes them feel good,” she said.

While she will miss the people she encounters at work, she looks forward to having more free time and to doing the things that she enjoys best.  “Family. I want to see my family more. I’m looking forward to having more time for my hobbies and crafts too.”

She has a grown daughter and two grandchildren who she hopes to see more. She enjoys needlepoint, cross stitch and reading as well. Alice also hopes to do some traveling in the form of day trips. She enjoys getting out to hike and sightsee. “There are a lot of places I would like to see that are close but I could never get around to visiting. It’s hard when you work all day, all week and you try to fit everything into a weekend,” she explained.

Alice is a self-proclaimed homebody who likes to call herself “a plain old person.” However, there is a part of Alice’s life story that isn’t at all boring and that is actually inspiring.

After the end of a “not so great relationship,” Alice went back to school and got her degree from the University of Rio Grande more than twenty years ago. ‘I always told my daughter that school was important and thought I should act like it,’ she said. The single mom was older than most of her classmates and sometimes even older than her professors. “The first time I walked into a class and my teacher was younger than me, I wanted to turn around and walk out,” she laughed. “It was a lot of work and it was hard to get back into the swing of studying and doing homework but I’m so proud of myself for doing it.”

She saw a number of life changes while pursuing her education. It was during this time Alice met Keith, the man who would become her husband. She also started working part time at the bank. “When we started dating, I told him that I wasn’t looking to get married or anything until I could take care of myself and stand on my own two feet. That was important to me that I be able to do that for myself.”

Today, the pair have been married for 22 of the 29 years they have been together. She says he’s a good guy and a great cook and that she looks forward to spending more time together when she retires.

As for that degree, she never actually put it to use. “I went full time at the bank at about the same time I graduated and didn’t really want to leave. The bank has been good to me, it’s like a big family here, and I have always enjoyed what I do,” she said.

With her last day fast approaching, Alice said she will miss working but has much to look forward to in the future.  “I will miss it. Coming here every day is like being part of a family but I’m looking forward to having time for myself.”

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.”

 

 

Kevin Coe To Retire On Valentine’s Day

It’s a brand new year and a new decade. 2020 also marks a fresh start for VCNB employee Kevin Coe. The popular Ross County Banking Center Commercial Lender will retire on Valentine’s Day after a 40 plus year career in banking.

Kevin Coe“I’ve achieved what I set out to do. I worked for another bank for twenty years and worked here for twenty. So I’ve made it to 40 years and I’m retiring in 2020 with twenty and twenty at two banks,” he explained. “The timing is right to retire.”

Ask Kevin to talk about his career and he’s very quick to mention his customers. You see, the Chillicothe resident says that his job isn’t just to loan money – it’s to help people. “I love talking to my customers and learning about their businesses,” he explained. “I’ve gotten to start with some customers on the ground floor. Being a part of their businesses and learning about their line of work … well, that’s one of the most rewarding things. I’m a people person so I like to relate to people and to hear their story.”

Kevin’s parents were educators who lived in West Jefferson when he was born. They relocated to Chillicothe when he was just five and he is proud to say he calls Ross County home. After graduating from Chillicothe City Schools, he spent two years at Miami University in Oxford. Uncertain what he wanted to do, he took a break from college and accepted a seasonal position at Mead Corporation in Chillicothe.

While there, he chose to pursue a career in finance. He graduated from Columbus State with an Associate Degree in Banking and Finance before taking a job in the Collections Department at another bank in Chillicothe. He moved into lending after three years before finally becoming a Commercial Lender. After twenty years with that bank, he made the leap to Ross County Banking Center where he started out as a Lender and eventually became a Commercial Lender.

Commercial lending clearly is Kevin’s niche and his interest in people and their businesses has been a key to his success. He is outgoing and kind but it’s the genuine interest that he takes in people that makes customers look forward to doing business with him.

That’s not to say that life has been without problems. The grandfather of three was devastated by the loss of one granddaughter in January 2018. A few months later a blown knee forced him into surgery and off work for the shortest period of time his doctor would permit. When he returned just two and a half weeks after surgery, a new software system for processing loan requests was being implemented.

“I’ll be honest with you. I was struggling. I was in a lot of pain and I’m not a techie person to begin with. Losing my granddaughter . . .  the surgery. . .it was just too much at one time and I didn’t know if I would make it to retirement,” he said. “But I’ve had good people help me along the way and I’m so pleased that I was able to stay until I was ready to retire. I’m grateful to my customers and my coworkers and everyone that has helped me.”

When asked if he has advice for someone considering a career in banking, Kevin’s answer went back to the human aspect of the job. “It’s a rewarding career but if you’re not a people person, lending is probably not the career for you. If you like people, if you’re interested in their successes and in what they care about, you’ll love it,” he exclaimed.

While Kevin looks forward to having free time, to catching up on some things around the house and maybe even playing a little golf, he isn’t in any hurry to leave.  “I’m not counting the days or anything like that. I know how long I have but I’m not dying to leave. In fact, I’m sure I’ll miss working. I know I’ll miss the people,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to doing something different. Catch up on things at home, maybe find a part-time job to keep me busy,” he said with a grin.

He does look forward to having more time with his family including Debbie, his wife of 37 years. “I’m so blessed that I had the opportunity to come to work here. Wow, retiring! It’s going to be a big change. For forty plus years I’ve gotten up and gone to work,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it!”

“Banking has been a rewarding career and I am blessed to have worked with so many fine people and to meet so many great people throughout my 40 plus years in the business. And to be able to work in my hometown was icing on the cake.”

Customers and friends are invited to join Kevin for an informal reception at his office on East Main Street in Chillicothe from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 12.

 

 

Brenda Prater Brooks To Retire This Month

When Brenda Prater Brooks came to work for Vinton County National Bank in 1979, President Bob Will joked that she was kicking the slats out of the cradle. Just over forty years later, Brenda is retiring as the second most senior employee in the bank.

Brenda BrooksShe never intended to stay this long but instead planned to work while going to college and eventually move on. “This is where God wanted me. I got married, had two kids and never left. Life is good,” she smiled.

Brenda began her banking career as a teller – first inside the lobby and later at the drive-thru. “On my first day, they gave me a cash drawer and told me any money out, write on the right side and money in gets written on the left. And you know what? I balanced my first day!”

When she started at the bank, the lobby was open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily and until noon on Thursday and Saturday. “We didn’t have any of the technology we have today. Everything was done by hand and no one left until the General Ledger was balanced. You didn’t want to be the reason it wouldn’t balance,” she joked. “You felt about an inch tall because everyone had to wait around all because of your mistake.”

With everything filed and kept manually, when a customer wanted to know if a check had been cleared, the teller went downstairs to find the check. “We didn’t have an elevator back then so it was a lot of trips up and down the stairs. I was thin back then!” she laughed.

She speaks about many former colleagues with admiration, especially those who were here when she first started and who taught her to be a good representative of the bank. She is especially fond of Rosemary Reynolds and Ruth Molihan who were New Accounts Officers for many years. “I always thought they were the classiest ladies ever. Never a hair out of place, make-up done perfectly.  They were always so professional and kind. I wanted to be like them,” she said.

When Rosemary left the bank in 1991, Brenda got her chance to be like those ladies in New Accounts. “They put me across from Ruth and I learned so much,” she said. “I’ve done everything on the deposit side but never loans. I’m not sure I could tell someone who really needed money that I could not do a loan for them,” she said.

Brenda points out that many of her early customers have passed away. Now she’s serving their children and grandchildren. “I’ve loved every minute of getting to know my customers,” she said before talking about some of the births, marriages, retirements, deaths, celebrations and sorrows that she has witnessed in the lives of her customers. She even remembers two current VCNB employees when they were just tiny tots sitting on her lap while playing with her typewriter. “They’re all grown up now!” she exclaimed.

It is her own life experience that Brenda believes has helped her better relate to some of her customers. She specifically mentioned how the passing of her first husband has allowed her to relate to customers who have lost spouses. “I’m a firm believer that our experiences make us who we are and that we should use the knowledge and compassion we gain to help others,” she said.  “I’ve been able to better relate to my customers who have lost spouses because I’ve been through it. And unless you’ve been through it you just don’t know,” she said.

She will miss her bank family and customers but looks forward to having more time with her own family. With a husband, two grown kids, three grandsons, lots of friends and elderly parents, she has much to keep her busy and to look forward to. “I am so excited to just do my own thing and to have more time for what I need to do,” she said.

Brenda reluctantly admits that some of her customers will miss her. “People don’t like change and honestly, I don’t either. I remember when Rosemary left, so many people were reluctant to give me a chance. And when I started, if the system went down, that meant my pencil was broken and I needed to sharpen it,” she laughed. “So much has changed in these forty years but it’s a necessary part of life.”

Brenda is known for her good customer service so when asked what advice she would give someone in a customer service job, her response was decisive. “Never judge someone for their appearance and never treat anyone differently than you yourself would want to be treated. Every customer is important. They are the reason we have a job.”

“I will miss the people. Some have become like family but to everything there is a season. It’s time for me to leave,” she said.

Brenda will retire on January 31 along with three other longtime employees. Jane Nickelsand Barb Clemons in McArthur and Elaine Praterin Richmond Dale will retire that day as well. An informal reception will be held for customers and friends in McArthur on January 29 and a reception for Elaine will be held on January 29 in Richmond Dale.

 

The End Of An Era: Jane Nickels Will Retire This Month

Jane Nickels is certain that no one will miss her at the bank after she retires on January 31. But it will be a sad day for the scores of customers she serves as well as coworkers she has mentored along the way. That’s because Jane has been a fixture at the bank’s first office in McArthur for most of the last 45 years.

Jane NickelsJane first came to work at the bank as a teller in 1974. At the time, the bank had just the one location at 112 West Main Street in McArthur and was about to open its first branch in nearby Wilkesville. With an approximate asset size of seventeen million, the bank employed a fraction of the people it does today.

Since then she has worked in a variety of roles including Head Teller, Loan Clerk, Customer Service Representative, Installment Lender, New Accounts Officer and Customer Service Supervisor. She left in the late eighties but was gone just five years before resuming her career with the bank. Most McArthur customers know her well and many customers from across the bank nation have benefited from her years of experience and problem solving skills.

Jane has been the McArthur Branch Manager for fifteen years and, through that leadership position, has taken on another role that is not listed on her business card –  that of mentor.

Jane has mentored countless bankers throughout her career. Men and women of all ages have learned from her extensive institutional knowledge, customer service experience and proven abilities when it comes to getting the job done. Anyone who benefited from being taken under Jane’s wing will say that she taught them that what is good for the bank and what is good for the customer are not necessarily two different things.

Women in particular have benefited from seeing Jane in action as the working mom balanced the bank and home while still making time to be active in the community and to hold a sincere interest in the lives of her customers.

But Jane would be embarrassed to have such things said about her. Instead she prefers to focus on the progress of the bank and the people who helped her along the way.

With no computers, direct deposit, debit cards or ATMs, customers came into the bank to do all their business. “There was no direct deposit so all lanes would be backed up on Friday afternoon, people bringing their paychecks to the drive-thru to be cashed. I got to see and meet a lot of people and I established relationships with a lot of those customers. Over the years they become more like friends than just customers and that’s the best part,” she said.

Depot girls with Bob

Jane is pictured with President Bob Will and coworker Doris Adelmann in the early days of her career.

She remembers especially fondly the opening of The Depot Drive-Thru, a building that resembles a train depot, where she and Doris Adelmann served customers on the go under the supervision of VCNB President Bob Will. “I remember that Bob moved his office down there for the first three months. It was a bit nerve racking having the Bank President there all day but I learned more about what was expected of me, what Bob wanted for the bank than I did at any other time,” she recalled.

She spoke fondly of Bob as she discussed the many people who mentored her over the years. “Oh, I learned so much from Bob. He didn’t miss anything. I also learned from many other mentors. There have been too many to name but the earliest people to help me, besides Bob, were Jerry Griffith and Belle Jenkins. They were wonderful role models for how to conduct oneself in the workplace and for how to treat a customer. But really, I have been fortunate to have so many people who took the time to help me,” she said.

She always laughs when talking about Jerry Griffith and how discouraging it could be to work alongside him. “He was a genuinely kind man who knew his customers and took an interest in them all. Working next to him was humbling because people would line up out the door to see Jerry and when you asked if you could help them they would say they would wait for him. I learned the phrase ‘May I help you?” because I repeated it so much!” she said. “Maybe it was from Jerry most of all I learned the importance of kindness and truly caring for the customer before you.”

Another person whose name popped up more than once in conversation was Belle Jenkins, the bank’s first female employee. “Belle ran a tight ship. She set the standard and was a role model for how to treat customers, how a lady should behave and how we should act professionally both inside and outside the bank,” Jane said. “What a good role model she was. I was lucky to have many good role models to learn from. It’s so important to have that person to share how VCNB wants things run and how the customer should be treated.”

She speaks fondly of some of the more unusual projects the bank took on over the years. For example, when the bank expanded to Wilkesville with the opening of a new coal mine, Jane and other bankers would go to the mine to open accounts and help the miners with their business. They would visit between shifts and set up a table just outside the showers.

“The idea of a community bank is that you’re a part of the community, providing services and getting out into the community whenever possible. It’s not just about banking services. It’s about supporting Christmas in Downtown and helping with the concessions stand at ball games. It’s about helping out with coat drives or volunteering in the community,” she explained.

She pointed out that the one constant in the world of banking is that nothing ever stays the same. Regulatory changes and changing customer demands dictate constant change each year. When asked about some of the better changes over the years, she recalled several. She remembers the bank’s first ATM, a large machine placed in the front of the building facing Main Street in McArthur. “Earl Cecil and I went outside and showed people how to use it. Bob’s idea was that people would use the ATM if we helped them feel comfortable with it,” she said.

Another improvement was the addition of the South Lobby and parking lot. “This was a big improvement for the customer, having a place to park next to the door. Parking along Main Street isn’t always easy to do and this made banking so much more convenient. “

When asked if she has advice for the young bankers she won’t be here to guide, her answers were very customer focused. “There’s nothing more important to a customer than their finances and they trust us to take care of things for them. Bob always advised three things. First, you always listen to the customer. You always express empathy for them. And then you try to resolve their problem. You can’t always resolve a situation in a way that makes the customer happy but you should do what you can,” she said. “I also think it’s important to remember that the customer is why we’re here and that the bank is only as good as the quality of the information you share. There is nothing wrong with telling a customer that you don’t know the answer as long as you’re willing to find that answer for them.”

While Jane is excited to retire, she says she will miss the people.  “This office has always been a family. Here coworkers are your second family and your customers are your third,” she smiled.

She plans to volunteer some and spend more time with her two granddaughters. She also wants to take some small trips and soak in the sun at the beach for a while. But first, she looks forward to simply staying inside this winter.

“I hope that individuals know that I truly care about them. I have enjoyed my customers and getting to know them and their families. They have made my career here rewarding and I will miss them,” she said.

Customers are invited to join Jane for an informal reception in the bank lobby on January 29. This day we will also celebrate the retirements of Brenda Brooks and Barb Clemons who all will retire from McArthur on January 31.

 

 

Barb Clemons Will Retire January 31

Barb ClemmonsThe tellers who work with Barb Clemons like to tell newcomers not to be offended when customers don’t want their help. That’s because Barb has a following of customers who would simply rather wait for Barb. She’s been working at our McArthur office for almost 33 years and her customers have come to know her and trust the work she does.

She knows them well too. “You get to know them and how they want their work done. They like to just hand you their stuff and know that it will be correctly done. You learn who you can joke around with and they will tell you about their life and things that are important to them,” she said. “I’m glad people want to come to my window. It makes you feel appreciated.”

Barb has a good sense of humor and an easy laugh but she takes her work seriously, always focused on the task at hand and on pleasing the customer. “People don’t realize how much is involved in teller work. There’s a lot to do and remember and it can get stressful. A lot of people think we just stand there and count money but it’s a really complicated job,” she said.

She’s so good at what she does that she trains most of the new tellers in McArthur. In fact, countless tellers have benefited from Barb’s years of experience. “I have trained a lot of tellers. Lots and lots of tellers. You know I trained Mark Erslan when he came here,” she said.

Now the bank president, Mark started with VCNB as a management trainee, a program that required he learn several jobs including teller. She laughs as she recounts the day that his drawer was off a single dime. “He likes to tease me about that day.  He went home that night and found that dime in the cuff of his dress pants,” she said.  “He came in the next day with that dime and we teased him about it. Sure, Mark, it was there all the time!”

When asked about the advice she gives new tellers she thought for a moment before saying “you know there’s really so much that you need to know but the first thing you need to do is pay close attention to what the customer is saying. You need to hear what they want and if you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to repeat things so they can confirm it,” she explained. “The customer in front of you should be the most important person. Make them feel special and important. Make them feel comfortable.”

Before coming to work for the bank, Barb worked at a local nursing home for close to ten years. Some former classmates who worked for the bank thought she would be a good fit for an open teller position in Wilkesville and they asked her to apply for the position. But after a month of training in McArthur then President Bob Will was so impressed with her that he asked her to stay on in McArthur where she would have more opportunity for advancement.

Barb tried working in new accounts but quickly realized that she really enjoyed being a teller and that the new accounts position was not for her. “I would like to think that I’m good at what I do and I like that every day is different. Yes, I do the same things all day but the customers are different every day and that keeps things interesting.”

After close to 43 years in the workforce, Barb is excited to have some free time. “I can’t even imagine what it will be like to get up when I want and not have to come someplace but I’m looking forward to it. I just want to sit on the porch swing and do what I want to do,” she exclaimed.  “I’m looking forward to having time to get out and do things, to go to lunch with my friends, to keep up with stuff around the house.”

She and husband Mark were high school sweethearts and have been married for 45 years. They have two grown children and four grandkids. “I’m looking forward to spending more time with them and having time to go to the kids’ ballgames and things. But I will miss my customers and my coworkers. Some of my customers have expressed that they’re sad to see me go but that they’re happy for me. I want them to know I’ll miss them too.”

Barb will officially retire on January 31 alongside longtime coworkers Jane Nickels and  Brenda Brooks. Customers can stop by the bank on January 29 to wish the ladies well during an informal reception. A reception will also be held at our Richmond Dale office that day to honor Elaine Prater who also will retire on January 31.

 

Elaine Prater To Retire This Month

Elaine praterWhen Elaine Prater started at the bank in Richmond Dale, she was a part time teller with no thoughts of making it a career. The bank was close to home and to her kids’ school, providing a convenient opportunity to make some extra money.

More than 38 years have passed since then. She’s now the much beloved manager of that branch and is looking forward to her retirement on January 31. “In the beginning I worked as part time teller on Monday, Friday, Saturday and on the first and third of the month. I covered vacations too,” she laughed.

“I discovered that I really enjoyed the people and I never left,” she said.

The branch changed hands a few times over the years before joining the VCNB family in 2008. Over time she worked her way up to Branch Manager, a position she’s held since 1997. “I’ve been a banker for 38 years and worked for four banks but I’ve done it all right here!” she exclaimed.

During that time she’s witnessed significant changes in the industry and the way customers want to bank. “When I started we didn’t have a single computer in the branch. Then we got a computer for behind the teller line and now we all have computers. It’s really changed the way we work,” she said.

Elaine also remembers when ATMs and online banking were introduced. “Our customers loved the ATM but the thing that impressed them the most was online banking. Customers were quick to adopt to banking with their own computer, being able to do things for themselves,” she said. “Some of our older customers still don’t use online banking and we have people who can’t get internet at home but that’s ok. We can help them in other ways. That’s the beautiful thing about being a community banker,” she said.

She went on to talk about the many ways community bankers can look out for their customers. “Sometimes we balance checkbooks. We know the families including all the kids and grandkids. Sometimes we just visit with them,” she said. “When I ask a customer how they’re doing, it means something to me. It means a lot to know that they’re ok or that I can help when there’s a problem. It means something knowing that I can be happy for them when there’s good news. They’re not just customers. They’re all important to me,” she said.

Elaine looks forward to having the free time that comes with retirement but doesn’t necessarily intend to slow down. For example, she hopes to volunteer at the hospital. “It sounds kind of corny but I want to give back. I want to give comfort” she explained while remembering a time that her grandson was quite ill while in Guatemala, waiting for his adoption to be finalized. “I was so thankful he had compassionate people to care for him. He needed the surgery by the time he was six months old. When they stepped off the plane, he was already scheduled for surgery two weeks later, on the day he turned six months.

Elaine and her husband Gary recently celebrated 51 years of marriage and she’s looking forward to having more time with him. The pair work together running a concessions business that takes them to events across Ohio and Kentucky. They have two grown children and four grandkids. Two of those grandchildren live in California and it is her hope visit them soon. She would also like to continue volunteering with Salvation Army and remain active with her church.

She laughed when she talked about coming back to “visit with the girls” at the branch. I worked with Brenda for 22 years and Lauren for seventeen. That’s a long time to just stop coming around!”

“It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long. It’s been fun. We all have those days that it gets overwhelming or that it isn’t fun but I’m grateful for every single day. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here. I’ll miss the people but I think this is the right time to go,” she said.

Elaine’s last day will be on Friday, January 31. Customers can stop by the branch on January 29 to have cupcakes and visit with her.

Beth Bayless To Retire January 15

Beth BaylessCanal Banking Center customers know Beth Bayless as the quick witted banker who is always ready with a kind word and smile. Her coworkers see Beth as a smart cookie who knows her business. All of them will be sad to see her go when she retires on January 15.

Beth joined the VCNB family in 2002 just before the completion of the bank’s new Canal Winchester location. She likes to joke that she came with the building as she remembers tracking the construction progress for months leading up to their opening. “They practically built it around me,” she quipped.

The Canal Winchester native has a total of 35 years in banking after a short stint in education. She went to college in Arizona where she taught Physical Education for three years. She later transitioned in to banking and built a name for herself at two banks in Phoenix.

When she was moving back to Canal Winchester in 2002, her mother told her about a billboard she saw on Route 33. It advertised the new Canal Banking Center and her mom thought it sounded like a good opportunity. “Mom saw the billboard on 33 and picked up an application at E. Main. The rest is history, I guess you would say.”

Beth’s philosophies toward her customers have served her and her customers well over the years. “Ask yourself – how do you want to feel when you go in someplace you’re not familiar? How do you want to feel when you have a question that you’re not sure about or a problem you don’t understand? It’s important to put people at ease and laughter is sometimes the way to do that,” she explained. “You have to be available to listen and to help.”

She also spoke of the benefits of working for a community bank as opposed to a big one. “We still have the opportunity to know everyone in the bank, to know who to call for an answer or to take care of a problem quickly at a critical time in a customer’s life.  How cool is it that we can affect a customer’s life in that way? Every one of us has that power within this organization and I really do love that,” she said.

She says she will miss the people but is looking forward to the free time and relaxation that will come with retirement. She has a trip planned and has her eye on some non-profits she would like to help. “Other than that, I’m just going to wait and see what happens,” she said. “It’s been incredible. Working here has been the best over-the-top fun and a good ride but I’m happy for the opportunity to do something else.”

Beth’s last day will be on January 15. Stop by the bank to wish her the best in her retirement!

 

Vicki McCathren Retires From VCNB

When Vicki McCathren started her career at Vinton County National Bank, the banking industry was just ramping up its use of computers in branches. Online banking was still in its infancy and the concept of a phone app where customers could take charge of their money was still a few years down the road.

On Friday, she will retire after almost 21 years with the bank and a wealth of knowledge about tasks that customers likely never think about but that are important behind the scenes work.

Vicki McCathren 2019 Retirement“It’s incredible the changes I’ve seen over the years,” Vicki said. “The changes in how we do things, in the technology is pretty amazing. Banking is so much easier for the customer too.”

Vicki started in the VCNB Customer Service Department, eventually working her way up to be department supervisor. At that time, Customer Service encompassed not just traditional customer service responsibilities but other work including inputting account information, balancing savings bonds, managing debit card disputes and a host of other things. “We all shared the work. Everyone knew how to do everything and we rotated responsibilities. It was a great group to work with,” she said before describing how she went on to take a position in the bank’s Operations Department in 2007.

As Senior Operations Processor, Vicki has several daily responsibilities, most notably in the area of debit card disputes. “I’ve done debit card disputes for nearly 21 years,” she laughed. “No matter where I went in this bank, they went with me!”

That may be because Vicki has a flair for problem solving, the patience and attention to detail needed to work through a complicated situation and a customer service mindset that helps her appreciate how important this work is to the customer.

But she calls herself a “Jack of All Trades” and emphasizes how well her department works together. “There are things that I do every day and things that I know how to do so I can help if someone needs help or if they’re on vacation. We keep really busy but we work well together. It’s been a great group of ladies and gents to work with,” she explained.

Vicki said that her department is experienced at problem solving – both from having years of experience to draw from and because of their research skills – and that they often serve as a resource for bank employees who need assistance for the customers. “Everything we do is for the customer. Without our customer we wouldn’t have a bank so it’s important to take care of them,” she said.

She is looking forward to retirement, hopeful that she will have the time to simply enjoy life and to spend more time with loved ones. She’s especially looking forward to having more time with her husband and eleven grandkids and may take on a volunteer gig at her grandson’s school. “I have no big plans for sleeping in or anything like that. I just want to see what I can get into!”

She smiles at the thought of lunches with her sisters and beams at the idea she will soon have time to cook big meals for her family – about 75 people including her siblings and their children and grandchildren. “I like cooking and feeding my family but it’s hard to do when you’re working,” she smiled.

“I remember when I was a kid and how simple things were. Time was slower. Life was easier. Sunday was a day to rest and to have a big dinner as a family. You’d sit on the porch and watch it get dark so you could catch lightening bugs. I’m hoping to recapture some of that,” she said while talking about bringing loved ones together.

Never one to be the center of attention, Vicki has asked that her last day of work be low key. In lieu of a party, she requested cake and a quiet celebration with her coworkers in the Operations Department. She will retire Friday, just two days shy of her 21st anniversary with the bank.

Congratulations Vicki! We will miss you!