It wasn’t that long ago that the four corners of small town America consisted of the courthouse, the school, the church and the local bank. They were the foundation of every town and village, and while times have certainly changed and many of these small towns have grown into sprawling cities, the four pillars still help define the feeling, atmosphere and even pride of a community.
There are more choices today when it comes to financial institutions but a few of those choices are still located right off Main Street – in the center of town where community and local accountability not only matter but are the only way of doing business.
Just head on over to the local market and listen to what some of the area business leaders have to say about community and local accountability.
“In 2005 I opened my first restaurant and then I started my relationship with Ann Arbor State Bank,” says Sava Lelcaj, owner of SAVA and Aventura. “That’s when I built the confidence to open another location. Ann Arbor State Bank really makes our lives easy. It’s nice having a bank that handles all of our resources from start to finish.”
Bob Burnside, owner of Fireside Home Construction, couldn’t agree more.
“When our clients are happy, we’re happy and that’s why we use Ann Arbor State Bank,” says Burnside. “Unless our customer has cash, they need to borrow the funds via the construction loan so it’s really critical that we have a great banking institution to work with and I will tell you that there is none better than I’ve seen in my 20 plus years than Ann Arbor State Bank.”
Jeremy Shaffer, VP Residential Mortgage Loan Manager with Ann Arbor State Bank, says, “This is our community.”
“It’s not only where we work but where we live and we will not relocate like large national banks often do,” says Shaffer (right), who brings more than a decade of mortgage lending experience to his position at Ann Arbor State Bank after having worked at several local and national mortgage lenders. “We aren’t going to move our headquarters to Texas because most of what we do is right here in Washtenaw County and the surrounding areas. We take care of every transaction like it’s our first because not only does good news travel around town but if something goes wrong, that also will get around. It all goes back to this is our community. We can’t hide behind a web site or an 800 number because we work here and live here. We have to be good stewards of our community and take care of people. Our goal is put them in situations where they are going to succeed.”
And Ann Arbor State Bank’s commitment to local accountability has helped them succeed. AASB opened for business in 2009 with a staff of 17 and ended their first year with over $72 million in assets. Both of those numbers have been rising ever since –as has their footprint and reputation in the community.
“We are a true community bank and we have a team of mortgage lenders that have been very successful in getting customers into new homes, helping build houses, or just getting current mortgage loans refinanced with better rates or better payment terms,” says Peter Schork, president and CEO of Ann Arbor State Bank.
Local accountability also means local knowledge which can work greatly in the customer’s favor.
“All of us here are intimately familiar with our market,” says Jeff Miller, assistant VP and mortgage loan originator. “We live here, work here and raise families here so we know the area well. Our business is based here in the Washtenaw County area. But 95 percent of our lending is right here and our customers know that we understand and know the market and that’s important. We know the appraisers going out to appraise their homes, we know the realtors, we know the home inspectors and we know the market in the neighborhood they are looking at because we’ve been in that neighborhood.”
One of the differences between a national institution and a local bank is the one with roots in the community reinvests the money right back into the local economy – because they are in this together.
“Maintaining this local focus means that we reinvest right here in our community,” Shaffer says. “And that’s important.”
It’s certainly important to local businesses.
Dexter Builders and Ann Arbor State Bank have one thing in common – they are both interested in not only building relationships with their customers but building a foundation for the surrounding community.
“The best thing about Ann Arbor State Bank is their local presence,” says Jeff Brown of Dexter Builders. “They want to keep the money here.”
It’s called local accountability.