Home Posts tagged Greenfield Cooperative Bank
Daily News

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Cooperative Bank has been selected to participate in Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston’s Equity Builder Program, which assists local homebuyers with down-payment and closing costs as well as homebuyer counseling and rehabilitation assistance.

The program provides grants to financial institutions to assist households earning up to 80% of the area median income. Borrowers are eligible to receive up to $22,000 in assistance on a first-come, first-served basis. Buyers must also complete a homebuyer counseling program.

“This grant program is designed to ease some of the challenges associated with a home purchase, particularly in areas where home prices are on the rise. We are pleased to participate to help borrowers become homebuyers, while also supporting the financial stability and vitality of our communities,” said Jane Wolfe, senior vice president of Residential Lending for Greenfield Cooperative Bank.

The bank is eligible to receive up to $220,000 in 2022 through the Equity Builder Program depending on availability of funds. Since 2003, the Equity Builder Program has awarded more than $48.9 million in funds, assisting 4,251 income-eligible households in purchasing a home.

To learn more about applying for assistance, call the Greenfield Cooperative Bank Residential Loan Origination department at (413) 772-5000, ext. 490.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Tony Worden, CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its Northampton Cooperative Bank division, announced three promotions within the bank.

Chelsea Depault is being promoted to AVP, Commercial Operations officer. She originally started with the bank back in 2007 as a float teller and also worked in the Accounting department before moving on to Commercial Lending, where she has been for the past several years as a credit analyst and then as an AVP, Commercial Lending. In her new role, she will oversee the operations of commercial loan servicing and administration. She holds a bachelor’s degree from UMass.

Marjorie Smith is being promoted to senior commercial credit analyst. She has been with the bank since 2010, when she started as a teller. In the years since, she worked for the Residential Lending department in various roles before joining the Commercial Lending side as a credit analyst. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Houghton College.

Erica Josephson is being promoted to senior commercial credit analyst. She has been with the bank since 2019, when she joined as a credit analyst with several years of experience in credit underwriting at two other local institutions. Since coming on board, she has played a critical role in shepherding customers’ PPP loans through to forgiveness. She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Vermont.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Kevin O’Neil, chairman of the board of directors of Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) and its Northampton Cooperative Bank division, announced the promotion of Anthony Worden to chief executive officer.

Last year, Worden took over as president of GCB, following the planned retirement announcement of former President and CEO Michael Tucker. Worden’s promotion to CEO culminates a transitionary year and overall succession plan put in place by the board of the bank.

“This past transition year of Tony becoming president and CEO has been very smooth,” O’Neil said. “He has demonstrated his knowledge of banking and leadership skills to the board, the employees, and the community. We are very excited and confident to have Tony as the new CEO of the bank.”

Worden said he is looking forward to continuing the tradition of supporting customers and small businesses in Franklin, Hampshire, and, most recently, Hampden counties, adding that “it is my intention to uphold GCB’s reputation of being there for our local communities through our support of homebuyers and small business.”

Worden is a director, executive committee member, and former chair of the governance committee for the United Way of the Franklin and Hampshire Region; a former director of the Franklin County Community Development Corp.; and a former director of Berkshire Brewing Co. of South Deerfield. He received his bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and his MBA is from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, and he is a graduate of the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Tony Worden, president and chief operating officer at Greenfield Cooperative Bank, announced that Christopher Caouette has joined the bank as the new senior vice president – credit officer. He will be based in the main office at 62 Federal St. in Greenfield.

“We are thrilled to add someone with Chris’s experience and reputation to the team,” Worden said. “I believe he will be an excellent addition to Greenfield Cooperative Bank.”

Having spent the majority of his career in the Pioneer Valley, Caouette arrives with more than 30 years of banking experience, most recently as vice president, credit officer at another area bank. He holds an MBA in finance from UMass Amherst and attended the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. BankExec program – School for Financial Studies, where he finished second among 10 competing bank groups.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Michael Tucker, CEO, and Anthony Worden, president and COO, of Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) and its parent company, Greenfield Bancorp, MHC, announced the operating results of the bank’s latest fiscal year at the 116th annual meeting of the bank on June 15.

Worden reported that FY 2021, which ended on March 31, was very successful, and the assets of the bank grew by $98.1 million (an increase of 14.31%) over the prior year.

In FY 2021, GCB originated more than $165 million in loans of all types, including $51.28 million in residential mortgages, $104.43 million in commercial real-estate and commercial and industrial lending, $31.13 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans, $31.91 million in municipal lending, $8.92 million in home-equity loans and lines, and $1.09 million in MassSave zero-interest energy loans.

GCB had an increase of $104.7 million in deposits (up 18.15%) over the past year, its largest one-year increase ever.

The pre-tax operating income for Greenfield Cooperative Bank was $3.424 million for the year ended March 31, and the net income after taxes was $3.059 million. Total equity grew to $82.83 million. GCB’s tier 1 capital to average assets is 10.9%. The bank is considered well-capitalized by all regulatory definitions.

As a result of these solid earnings, Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its employees were able to contribute over $260,503 to 200 community groups and charities throughout Hampshire and Franklin counties during the past fiscal year, a 7.8% increase over the prior year.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Michael Tucker, CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) and its Northampton Cooperative Bank division, recently announced a number of promotions.

Mary Rawls was elected executive vice president, Compliance. She also serves as the bank’s BSA officer and co-CRA officer. She first joined GCB in 1994 and has more than 26 years of experience in banking. She is a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies at Babson College, the Massachusetts Bankers Bank Compliance Academy, and numerous Center for Financial Studies courses.

Michael Turley was elected executive vice president and chief financial officer. He has more than 40 years of experience in banking, most recently with GCB since 2013. He is a graduate of Union College in New York and has an MBA with a concentration in finance from Western New England University. He will be solely responsible for supervising the staff in the accounting and treasury functions within the bank. He will also officially become treasurer when Colleen Bugbee retires this May.

Janet Rosenkranz was elected senior vice president and credit officer. She joined the bank in 2016 as credit officer. In addition to her five years at GCB, she has more than 20 years of experience at two other banks before joining GCB. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from UMass Amherst and will graduate from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania this summer.

Alyssa Dansereau was elected assistant vice president and assistant controller. She joined GCB’s Accounting department in 2016. She is a graduate of Holyoke Community College and Western New England University with degrees in accounting.

Melissa Tetreault was elected assistant vice president, senior mortgage originator. She has a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and is a graduate of New England School for Financial Studies at Babson College. She has more than 18 years of experience with GCB in two tours, having rejoined the bank in 2018.

In addition to these officer elections, the bank announced several other promotions made as part of the annual review process.

Deborah Marvel has been promoted to senior operations specialist. She joined GCB as a teller in 2002. Since 2009, she has worked in both the Deposit Operations department and Loan Servicing department prior to this latest role in Operations.

Erica Josephson has been promoted to credit analyst III. She has been a credit analyst at various banks since 2016, most recently a senior credit analyst at Berkshire Bank. She joined GCB as a credit analyst II in 2019. She is a graduate of the University of Vermont.

Marjorie Smith has been promoted to credit analyst III. She joined GCB as a teller in 2010 and has been working in loans since 2012 and in the credit department since 2016. She is a graduate of Houghton College in New York.

Benjamin Viens has been promoted to credit analyst II. He joined GCB in 2018 as a teller and has been in the credit department since 2019. He is a graduate of Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Tony Worden, president and chief operating officer at Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB), announced that Jay Seyler has joined the bank as the new vice president of Commercial Lending. He will be based primarily in the King Street, Northampton office and aid the efforts of GCB’s Commercial Lending department, reporting directly to Michael Buckmaster, senior vice president of Commercial Lending.

“We are pleased to be able to add someone with Jay’s background and experience to our team,” Worden said. “He has spent his entire career in the Pioneer Valley and has a proven track record of working with local business owners to achieve their goals.”

With close to 35 years of commercial-banking experience, Seyler joins the GCB team from PeoplesBank in Holyoke, having previously worked at NUVO Bank and as a team leader at Westfield Bank for 11 years.

Seyler is also an active member of the community as a volunteer and former board member for the Drama Studio in Springfield, as well as a board member and past president of the East Longmeadow Rotary Club.

Daily News

GREENFELD — Kevin O’Neil, chairman of the board of directors of Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) and its Northampton Cooperative Bank division, announced the promotion of Anthony Worden to president and CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2021. This promotion is in anticipation of the retirement of current President and CEO Michael Tucker.

Tucker is relinquishing his title as president, but will remain CEO until his actual retirement in January 2022, when Worden will take over that role as well. Tucker will remain as a director of the bank and holding company. O’Neil noted that this transition schedule is part of an overall succession plan for the bank that the board adopted some time ago.

“Tony is highly qualified for this role, and has 22-plus years experience in community banking,” O’Neil said. “He has been part of Greenfield Coop’s leadership team since 2009 and has been one of the drivers for our success. We look forward to his leadership of the bank in the coming decade.”

Worden has worked closely with Tucker in addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic within the bank and its local communities. Tucker also noted he has complete confidence in Worden’s ability to lead the bank into the future.

“Tony has already been leading a large part of our bank team,” Tucker said. “This includes his recent work to ensure the bank was able to offer Paycheck Protection Program loans for businesses of all sizes during this pandemic. He has also played a key role in helping the bank reach out to consumers and businesses to keep GCB focused on the future of our local communities and our bank.”

Worden said he is honored and excited to take on his new role at the bank. “GCB has long been a supporter of small business and consumers in Hampshire and Franklin counties, and more recently business customers in the Hampden County market. It is my intention to continue this tradition.”

O’Neil noted the board was pleased to be able to select someone like Worden who already knows and values GCB’s traditions and internal culture. A Pioneer Valley resident for the past 30 years, he is a director, executive committee member, and chair of the governance committee for the United Way of Franklin County; a former director of the Franklin County Community Development Corp.; and a former director of the Berkshire Brewing Co. of South Deerfield. He received his bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and his MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, and he is a graduate of the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — In light of the recent coin shortage, Greenfield Cooperative Bank announced that the fee for non-account holders to use the coin-counter machines will be temporarily waived.

“We feel eliminating the fee is the right thing to do to encourage people to turn in their coins during this shortage,” said Tony Worden, executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Coin counters can be accessed at the bank’s Amherst, Shelburne Falls, Turners Falls, and Greenfield main office branches.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Michael Tucker, president and CEO, announced that Kevin Bowler has joined Greenfield Cooperative Bank as the new senior vice president of Loan Resolution. He began working in the Northampton office on July 1.

“Kevin brings to us over 30 years of lending experience,” Tucker said. “We are lucky to have someone with his level of experience in handling and working with commercial and residential credits to help them through these times.”

Bowler, who will report directly to Tony Worden, executive vice president and chief operating officer, previously worked for Peoples United Bank (the Bank of Western Massachusetts). He has a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB), announced that Tony Worden was elected by the board to the new position of chief operating officer (COO). This will be in addition to his duties as executive vice president & senior commercial loan officer.

As COO, Worden will be taking over some of Tucker’s day-to-day duties and direct reports to ensure GCB maintains continuity in its leadership ranks. And during a stressful period such as now with the COVID-19, the move gives the board the peace of mind of knowing that, should Tucker be unavailable for whatever reason, Worden will be available for major decisions.

“Tony truly cares about Greenfield Cooperative Bank and our customers and employees,” Tucker said. “He is committed to independence and mutuality to ensure that Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its Northampton Cooperative division are here for a long time.”

Worden has more than 21 years of experience in commercial lending and has been with GCB since 2008. He is a 1996 graduate of UMass with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and received his MBA from UMass Amherst in 2005. He is also a 2017 graduate of the Stonier School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania.

Worden is active in the community as a board member of United Way of Franklin County and a member of the town of Greenfield Cable Advisory Committee and the Turners Falls Downtown Working Group.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Michael E. Tucker, President & CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank, announced today that Courtney Huxley has joined the bank as the future Branch Manager of our new South Hadley location.

“Courtney has more than 15 years of banking experience,” said Tucker. “Most recently, she was the branch manager at another bank in Northampton. Prior, she was, coincidently, the branch manager at a bank in South Hadley, which we purchased and are scheduled to open in January 2020.

Huxley has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island. She was awarded for her community involvement in 2018 by the Massachusetts Market President’s Office.

Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its Northampton Cooperative division have been in business since 1869 and has $656.5 million in assets and $77.9 million in capital. GCB operates in 10 branch locations with almost 100 employees.

 

People on the Move

Jill Monson-Bishop

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recently welcomed Jill Monson-Bishop into the role of Community Development manager. She comes to the ACS with expertise in networking, relationship building, marketing, project management, and more. Prior to joining the American Cancer Society, Monson-Bishop was one of the opening-day team members at MGM Springfield, with responsibilities including internal communications and employee events. She also owns Inspired Marketing, now a consultative marketing agency, but at one time a full-service marketing and event-planning company serving clients such as Smith & Wesson, Adam Quenneville Roofing, and Northwestern Mutual. Previously, she was a radio personality in Western Mass. on stations such as WMAS, Rock 102, WHYN, and more. Community engagement has always been a priority for Monson-Bishop, who, over the years, has been involved with organizations such the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, Square One, YWCA, the Springfield Regional Chamber, the Drama Studio, and more. She is a graduate of Bay Path University with a MBA in entrepreneurial thinking and innovative practices, and she earned her bachelor’s degree in communication and media studies at Westfield State University.

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Jeffrey Neumann

Valley Solar, LLC announced the appointment of Jeffrey Neumann as lead master electrician. Neumann started with Valley Solar in April 2019 and will oversee all electrical operations. Prior to working at Valley Solar, Neumann was the electrical foreman at Hampshire College from 2010 to 2019. There, he supervised a crew of four journeyman electricians and oversaw all aspects of the the college’s Electrical Department, including supervision of crews, planning, budgeting, installations, and maintenance of campus electrical systems. He also oversaw several solar projects while at Hampshire and has performed solar installations involving single-phase residential wiring as well as more complex three-phase commercial projects.

 

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Linda Morgan, an attorney with extensive experience in higher education, has been named vice president and general counsel at Springfield College, effective Aug. 26, President Mary-Beth Cooper announced. Morgan will provide legal counsel and guidance to the leadership of the college and will serve as secretary to its board of trustees. She will be a member of the president’s senior leadership team. Joining Springfield College with 13 years of service as a practicing attorney and more than six years in positions of senior-level organizational management and financial administration, Morgan is well-practiced in providing leadership to institutional compliance with laws and regulations pertinent to higher education, including the Higher Education Opportunity Act, Title IX, FERPA, HIPAA, and the Jeanne Clery Act. She provides experience in broad aspects of law and related matters, including contracts, agreements, litigation, legal investigations, dispute resolution, mediation, business formation, compliance, and management. She is admitted to the bars of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the State of New York, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Morgan most recently worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, providing expertise in areas of employment-law adjudication and related statutory interpretation. Her previous experience also includes service as associate dean for Gender Equity at Bard College, grant administrator within the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland, and an attorney in private practice. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland University College and a juris doctor from Western New England University School of Law. She has teaching experience as an adjunct professor at Holyoke Community College and Greenfield Community College.

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Jean Deliso

Jean Deliso, CFP has been selected for membership in the Nautilus Group, a service of New York Life. The Nautilus Group is a planning resource comprised of financial professionals experienced in taxes, law, life insurance, accounting, and charitable giving. Deliso’s access to this exclusive resource enables her clients and their other financial advisors to benefit from the group’s collective experience and solutions as they apply to the protection, accumulation, and distribution of wealth to individuals, families, and business owners throughout the country. Deliso is president and owner of Deliso Financial and Insurance Services, a firm focusing on comprehensive financial strategies that position clients for a solid financial future. Her 30-year experience has led to a focus in certain fields, such as cash management, risk management, investment, and retirement planning. She has developed an expertise in assisting business owners with protecting and securing their future. She is also fully committed to educating individuals regarding their finances and frequently conducts workshops advocating financial empowerment. She has been a member of New York Life Chairman’s Council since 2012 and a qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table since 1999. Members of the Chairman’s Council rank in the top 3% of New York Life’s sales force of more than 12,000 licensed agents in sales achievement. Deliso currently serves on and is past chairman of the board of the Baystate Health Foundation and the Community Music School of Springfield. She has also served on the board of the YMCA of Greater Springfield and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

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Darcy Fortun

The Ad Club of Western Massachusetts recently recognized the Innovation Series with an award in the Video Series category. The Innovation Series is a documentary-style video series produced by Darcy Fortune, producer for Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi), for PeoplesBank. The series explored Valley Venture Mentors and some of its more unique entrepreneurial teams. The series was hosted by Matthew Bannister, first vice president of Marketing and Innovation for PeoplesBank. According to the bank’s website, the six-episode Innovation Series was designed and produced with the belief that PeoplesBank can not only be innovative, but help inspire innovation as well. The series garnered considerable media attention, with feature stories appearing in BusinessWest and several other area media outlets, as well as a sizable viewing audience. GCAi also distributed the Innovation Series through social-media channels, where it accumulated almost 400,000 total impressions, 100,000 engagement actions, and 90,000 video views at the time of the award. Fortune’s team included GCAi’s John Garvey as producer, Mary Shea as project manager, and James Garvey as digital dissemination manager. Matthew Derderian served as director of photography. Fortune is an experienced media professional and video producer, having served on assignment desks for both ABC and FOX News affiliates and developed videos and animations for GCAi clients including Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists, Cape Cod Cooperative Bank, MP CPAs, PeoplesBank, Peter Pan Bus Lines, and Winchester Savings Bank. She also just released two new pro bono videos for the Children’s Study Home and Wild Care of Cape Cod.

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Yvonne De Faoite

Elms College announced it will host an Irish Fulbright language teaching assistant (FLTA) during the 2019-20 academic year. Yvonne De Faoite of Limerick, Ireland, will teach Irish (Gaelic) language and culture. The Irish FLTA position is co-sponsored by the Irish Cultural Center of Western Massachusetts. De Faoite earned her primary teaching degree from Froebel College of Education in 2008. In 2012, she spent a year in Australia, where she gained international teaching experience. She recently completed a master’s degree in Irish immersion education from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. Prior to that, she completed a diploma in educational leadership in University College Dublin. De Faoite’s educational interests include immersion and second-language acquisition. As a Fulbright Irish FLTA, she will teach the Irish language and culture to Elms College students and to community members through the Irish Cultural Center. She will also take classes at Elms.

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Robert Burnell has been appointed executive chef of all dining venues at the Red Lion Inn. In his new role, Burnell oversees the day-to-day culinary operations of the main dining room, Widow Bingham’s Tavern, the Lion’s Den, and the seasonally open courtyard. In addition, Burnell will collaborate with Brian Alberg, vice president of Culinary Development, on all future food- and beverage-related development, including specialty menus for Red Lion guests and private parties. With nearly 20 years in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries, Burnell was previously executive chef at Gedney Farm in Marlborough. With a passion for clean cooking and eating, coupled with expertise in modern food trends, Burnell revamped menus to incorporate locally sourced items, along with gluten-free, vegetarian, and keto options for diners. He also strived to deliver exceptional client experiences for weddings, community events, and private dining. Additional hospitality experience includes five years as a property developer for Berkshire Hotels Group, during which he implemented construction projects for both hotels and restaurants.

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Sean Sormanti

Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank, announced that Sean Sormanti has joined the bank as senior vice president – Human Resources. Most recently, Sormanti was director of Human Resources at Strategic Information Resources in Springfield. In his new role, he will be responsible for recruiting, planning, coordinating, and managing the activities of the bank’s Human Resources department. He will be based at 63 Federal St. in Greenfield. Sormanti has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine. He currently holds a professional in human resources certificate and is an active member of the Western Mass. chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management.

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Joseph Baker

 

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) announced that Joseph Baker has joined its team as vice president of Finance and Administration. He will oversee finances, investments, human resources, and operations for the $152 million foundation. Baker previously served in leadership roles at other community foundations for 13 years, most recently as vice president of Finance and chief financial officer at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Before that, he was director of Finance and Administration at the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain. He brings to BTCF a background in nonprofit finance and development, as the former head of a United Way and a nonprofit service organization. He also developed Danbury Children First, a parent-led community initiative. Baker earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in economics and Spanish from Colby College.

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Bob Cummings has been re-elected to serve as president of the National Assoc. of Professional Benefits Administrators (NAPBA). A  NAPBA trustee since 2007, Cummings was first elected NAPBA president in 2015, and has been an instrumental force in the emergence of the consumer-directed healthcare industry over the past 20 years, orchestrating the growth of NAPBA as the primary compliance-standards and best-practice organization for third-party employee-benefits administrators serving the consumer-directed healthcare industry. As CEO and founder of American Benefits Group (ABG), a leading national employee-benefits administrator located in Northampton, Cummings has been a pioneer of the consumer-directed healthcare industry before the term even existed. ABG was one of the first administrators of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) in 1989 along with COBRA, billing-administration, and commuter-benefit accounts in the 1990s. When health savings accounts (HSA) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRA) were enabled under the Internal Revenue Code in 2002, ABG was one of the early leaders in administering consumer-directed healthcare plan designs. As pre-tax, account-based plans became a linchpin of most employer benefit-plan designs along with high-deductible health plans, NAPBA was founded to promote compliance and best-practice standards in the administration of pre-tax, account-based plans. All NAPBA member organizations are third-party administrators focused on the administration and service of employer-sponsored plans for consumer-directed pre-tax accounts such as FSAs, HSAs, HRAs, and commuter benefits, as well as COBRA administration services. Collectively NAPBA member organizations provide services to more than 30 million employee healthcare consumers nationwide.

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Richard Venne, president and CEO of Viability, announced longtime staffer Richard Horton’s promotion to vice president of Administration and Finance. Horton joined Community Enterprises, one of the nonprofits that merged to become Viability, in July 2008 as director of Community Staffing. Before joining Viability as a staff member, he had executed consulting work to revive and re-engineer the Community Staffing operations. Over the next decade, his role expanded, first becoming director of Financial Planning and then associate vice president of Administration and Finance. He is known throughout the organization for serving as project manager for the implementation of Viability’s electronic health record and outcomes-management system. Two years ago, during the merger of Community Enterprises and Human Resources Unlimited into Viability, he led the effort to bring the infrastructure of the organizations together, focusing on technology and facilities. Entering its third year as Viability, the agency’s focus is on the creation, integration, standardization, and improvement of systems and processes. In his new role, Horton will play a central role in helping achieve that goal.

Banking and Financial Services

Steady Course

President and CEO Michael Tucker

President and CEO Michael Tucker

Like most all bank presidents in the 413, Michael Tucker would concede that a great many of the region’s communities are heavily populated with financial institutions, or “overbanked,” to use the term most would put into play.

He’s inclined to include Greenfield on that list, and gestures out the window of his office to make his point. “They used to call the other end of the street Bank Row,” he said, referring to a stretch of Federal Street now occupied by what once were stately bank offices, many of them redeveloped for other uses. “They really should call this Bank Row now.”

Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) and Northampton Cooperative Bank (the two institutions merged in 2015, and the former name was kept) was referencing the number of competitors who call a different stretch of Federal Street home, and it’s a large number.

But, unlike most of the other bank leaders who bemoan the overbanked nature of this region, Tucker sees the landscape through a slightly different lens.

“Some bankers would say we’re overbanked; I would say we have choices,” he explained. “It forces you to be more competitive, and it gives people choices. It doesn’t hurt to have competition — otherwise, you get complacent.”

So perhaps all that competition should get some of the credit for what has been a consistent pattern of growth for the bank, especially since Tucker took the helm at GCB in 2003. Since then, the bank has seen assets rise from roughly $175 million to more than $630 million, its branch count soar from three to 10, and its commercial-lending portfolio take a quantum leap.

Overall, the bank’s strategy has been to gradually expand its footprint in Franklin and Hampshire counties, growing mostly via the organic route (although the merger with Northampton Coop certainly accelerated that process), and achieve more of the size that is needed to thrive in today’s banking landscape.

The plan also calls for seizing opportunities when and where they arise, which brings us to the institution’s latest expansion effort — a branch in South Hadley at the Woodlawn Shopping Plaza that will bear a Northampton Cooperative sign over the door and open next January.

Formerly a Bank of America branch — that institution has been closing a good number of facilities in recent years — the new location gives Greenfield Coop presence in another Hampshire County community, but one that enables it to serve residents of several nearby Hampden County cities, especially Chicopee and Holyoke.

The plan for the foreseeable future is summed up neatly in the bank’s annual report, issued just a few weeks ago.

“Our primary strategy remains to look for prudent and measured organic growth right here in Western Massachusetts,” Tucker wrote in the report, noting that many of those aforementioned competitors have ventured into Central Mass., Connecticut, or both. “We need to remain a lean organization, especially in light of the growth of mobile and electronic banking in today’s world. Our branch strategy recognizes the new world order with the continued growth of the internet.”

Michael Tucker says the GCB branch is just one of many banks located on Federal Street

Michael Tucker says the GCB branch is just one of many banks located on Federal Street, a proliferation that provides competition, which he believes makes his bank better.

For this issue and its focus on banking and financial services, BusinessWest asked Tucker to elaborate on all those points and essentially draft a quick blueprint of the bank’s plans for the future. In a nutshell, it simply calls for more of what of what the bank has been achieving under his leadership — smart growth.

Points of Interest

Tucker said he ventured into banking, if that’s the word for it, while he was in law school at Western New England University.

He took a teller’s job at the institution known then as Springfield Institution for Savings (SIS), while attending night classes, not knowing this would be his employer for some time to come.

He remembers his first boss, John Collins, telling him that his law degree could be put to good use in the banking industry.

“He said, ‘I have a lot MBAs who could use some help, because we have this new thing called compliance,’” he recalled, referring specifically to the Truth in Lending Simplification Act of 1981. “That was my first foray into banking law.”

He took the title ‘counsel and compliance officer,’ and later worked his way up to senior vice president and general counsel. When Peoples Heritage acquired SIS, Tucker, like many others, was soon out of work, but he eventually landed at what is now bankESB for several years before being recruited to lead GCB.

When he arrived in Greenfield, he took over one of the smallest banks in the region with a simple goal — “I told the board I was going to keep this place mutual and hopefully leave it a better bank than I found it” — and set about a course of steady if unspectacular growth, which was by design, as he explained with a little humor.

“Our growth is roughly 4% to 6% a year,” he noted. “If we were a stock bank, they would have thrown me out the door. Because we’re a mutual bank, we can take our time. Where I see banks get in trouble is when they try to grow too fast and lose sight of their basic principles.”

GCB hasn’t done that, and its strategic goal — and operating philosophy — are summed up by its web domain name, www.bestlocalbank.com, and a comment from the annual report. “As I’ve often said before, we’ll probably never be the biggest bank,” Tucker wrote. “But we always strive to be the best bank in Western Massachusetts.”

During Tucker’s tenure, the bank has, as noted, expanded to 10 branches. There are two in Amherst (although they will soon be consolidated; more on that later), one in Florence, another in Northampton, two in Greenfield, as well as a commercial and residential and loan-services facility, and single locations in Northfield, Shelburne Falls, Sunderland, and Turners Falls.

Meanwhile, it has also greatly expanded its commercial-lending team and its commercial portfolio, which, like that at many banks in the region, is dominated by commercial real-estate loans, but also reflects the diversity of the local economy, especially in the bank’s hometown.

Indeed, this is an intriguing time for Greenfield, said Tucker, noting that the community once dominated economically by manufacturing has varied its economy, making great strides in technology and hospitality.

“Our growth is roughly 4% to 6% a year. If we were a stock bank, they would have thrown me out the door. Because we’re a mutual bank, we can take our time. Where I see banks get in trouble is when they try to grow too fast and lose sight of their basic principles.”

“There is a lot of energy in the town,” he said. “We have the new courthouse and the new parking garage; they opened the Olver [Transit Center], and there have been many other new developments.”

Still, this region, and especially Franklin County, where many communities are struggling to maintain population and especially young people, would be considered a low- or no-growth area, he acknowledged, meaning growth is a challenge for any financial institution.

This is why many area banks, as he noted in his annual-report comments, have ventured into Connecticut, Central Mass., or both, and why others have grown through acquisition or merger.

GCB has done some of that with its merger with Northampton Coop, a move that Tucker described as “logical” for both institutions because of that overbanked nature of this sector, and the lack of population growth in Franklin County.

“That’s why we looked at Hampshire County and why I talked to Northampton [Coop],” he explained. “It would have been silly for us to build another branch down in Hampshire County and fight 10 other banks for the money when we can partner with another bank.

“That worked out well for everyone because we didn’t have to lay anyone off,” he went on, adding that he spends one day a week in Northampton at that division of the institution. “It was a smooth transition. We were both very small — and we’re still one of the smaller banks — but we now have more size, and that helps. It was a good merger.”

By All Accounts

As he talked about his bank’s branch strategy, Tucker reached for his cell phone and held it aloft.

“This is our fastest-growing branch,” he said, noting that internet banking is becoming an ever-stronger force in this sector.

But brick-and-mortar branches are obviously still needed, he went on, adding that they probably don’t need to be as large as they once were, and they are far less transaction-oriented than they once were.

But they serve an important purpose in that they give a bank a presence and enable it to better serve customers in a particular region or community.

Which brings us to the new South Hadley branch.

The most logical expansion point for the bank moving forward is probably Hampden County, said Tucker, adding that the South Hadley branch provides an opportunity to make some strides in that direction.

Tucker found the branch while on one of his many drives around the area looking for opportunities.

“We keep our eyes open, and I drive around the area a lot and take a look at the communities,” he explained. “South Hadley was a community that I thought had some upside, and I was surprised when I read that Bank of America was closing that branch because they had a fair amount of deposits in that office.

“With this branch, we can serve some customers that we have already in Springfield and Chicopee,” he went on. “But it also gets us to reach a base in South Hadley that BOA is telling, ‘if you want to bank with us, you have to drive over here.’”

BOA’s departure will ultimately lead to GCB’s arrival, specifically its Northampton Coop division, said Tucker, adding that, while moving into South Hadley, the bank will continue to look for other growth opportunities as well as ways to become the ‘leaner organization’ he mentioned in the annual report.

Toward that end, the bank will consolidate its two branches in Amherst into one, a nod to the fact that specific branches are simply handling fewer transactions these days.

“When I was a teller in Forest Park [for SIS], we had seven or eight tellers plus a manager and an assistant manager,” he noted, turning the clock back four decades or so. “People were lined up out the door — we didn’t have deposit — and everyone came in to cash their Social Security checks on the first of the month.”

Elaborating, he said the branches in Amherst that saw 10,000 transactions a month several years ago were down to 5,000 maybe five years ago, and are now seeing roughly 3,000 a month, thanks to ever-advancing technology.

This phenomenon will eventually lead to fewer branches, and, more immediately, smaller facilities.

“The industry is moving in that direction,” he said while again holding his phone aloft and explaining it is now a branch itself in most all respects. “But I don’t think branches will be obsolete; they will be smaller and leaner.”

As for future expansion geographically, Tucker said GCB will continue to look for potential landing spots. “We’ll continue to look south and possibly east to Worcester County,” he told BusinessWest. “A lot depends on what happens; with some of the branches we’ve opened, I didn’t anticipate doing it at that time, as in Turners Falls, but the opportunity arose.”

Bottom Line

In his annual-report statement, Tucker noted that, over the past 114 years, GCB has had three basic operating slogans.

It’s gone from ‘Traditional, Progressive, Locally Focused,’ to ‘In the Community, for the Community,’ to the current ‘Come on Over to the Coop.’

The words are different, but they say the same thing, essentially — that this isn’t the biggest bank on a block crowded with other banks, but it strives to be best, and it’s generally successful in that mission.

This is the strategy that has worked since Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House, and there isn’t any sentiment to change it, said Tucker, because it works, not only for the community, but for the institution as well.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]m

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