GSB Adds New Branches in Amherst and Northampton
Expanding the Profile
Denise Coyne says one of the most important tenets of customer service is listening to the customers. And an even more critical one, she went on, is acting on what is being heard.
Adherence to both parts of that equation sums up, quickly and efficiently, Greenfield Savings Bank’s recent announcement that it will open two new branches in Amherst and Northampton, thus putting another exclamation point on the institution’s expansion into Hampshire County.
In short, the bank listened, and it acted.
“We have a great relationship with our customers, and we talk with them a lot,” said Coyne, the bank’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Over the past year or so, what we kept hearing about was location. We have great branches in those communities, and we’re going to keep those branches — they’re great locations. But customers wanted us to be on Main Street.”
In Northampton, that meant literally — the city’s bustling Main Street. In Amherst, it meant what amounts to the main thoroughfare for retail and foot traffic (which is not actually Main Street).
Thus, the bank will augment its large, full-service branches in those communities — 6 University Dr. in Amherst and 325 King St. in Northampton — with smaller, almost full-service branches in the heart of those downtowns. There will soon be a branch at 207 Main St. in Northampton, and another at 108 North Pleasant St. in Amherst.
Over the past year or so, what we kept hearing about was location. We have great branches in those communities, and we’re going to keep those branches — they’re great locations. But customers wanted us to be on Main Street.”
The new branches are being undertaken in direct response to customer need for convenience — “parking is at a premium in Amherst and Northampton, and once you get a spot in those communities, you don’t want to move,” said Coyne — but also as part of the bank’s ongoing efforts to grow market share in communities several exits to the south on I-91 from its base in Greenfield.
And that growth has come across the board, she went on.
“We have a trust department … we’ve seen an increase in wealth-management services,” she explained. “And as far as deposits go, since we opened our branch in Northampton in 2012, we’ve seen 16% growth in deposits annually.”
But perhaps the most profound growth has come on the commercial side of the ledger, said Mark Grumoli, senior vice president and director of Commercial Lending for the nearly 160-year-old institution.
“One of the factors that spearheaded our look to establish another branch in Northampton has been from the commercial-loan growth we’ve experienced,” he said. “Over the past nine years, we’ve generated in excess of $400 million in loan volume, and a large percentage of that has come in Hampshire County; the loan portfolio has grown almost three-fold over those nine years.”
Elaborating, he said that, to better serve that growing number of commercial customers, the additional branches were a necessary strategic initiative.
And the new additions have come after a lengthy search for sites that would meet customers’ needs for more convenience, but also give the bank needed visibility and the desirable space it needed.
“We’ve been looking for locations for more than a year now,” said Coyne, adding that, in Northampton, especially, there were many options to consider, but not many that would allow the bank to accomplish its primary mission. So it waited for such an opportunity to develop.
The Northampton site, located favorably near a Starbucks and across the street from City Hall, was previously home to a clothing store, and covers nearly 700 square feet. The Amherst site, meanwhile, near a CVS and across the street from Judie’s Restaurant, had been occupied by a bookstore and was vacant for some time.
Thus, both sites will require extensive renovation, said Coyne, adding that they will feature most of the traditional services, other than safe-deposit boxes and drive-thru facilities.
Both are slated to open their doors in June, and both are needed additions in those communities, Coyne noted.
“These are ‘walking’ communities,” she stressed. “And we wanted to bring that additional convenience to our customers.”