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Daily News

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Savings Bank (GSB) announced the promotions of Kim Alli to vice president and commercial loan officer, Andrew Bresciano to first vice president and commercial loan officer, Tina Flagg to assistant vice president and commercial loan administration manager, Panna Royal to vice president and senior network administrator, and Aleta Smith to commercial lending assistant.

Alli is responsible for meeting with local business customers to determine their financial needs and helping them with a wide range of commercial-loan products and services. Her position also includes developing new strategic relationships for business development, as well as establishing commercial account relationships with area small businesses and serving as an ambassador for the bank with the community. She is a member of the GSB PPP loan task force and the bank’s contributions committee.

Bresciano is responsible for working with local business customers to assist them with their credit needs, including commercial credit lines, commercial real estate and development loans, operational and equipment loans, and inventory loans. Last year, he was appointed to the leadership team managing the bank’s PPP loan task force.

Flagg is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the loan assistants and loan-servicing specialists in the bank’s Commercial Loan department to ensure quality customer service. In addition to monitoring the department workflow, she performs a broad variety of duties related to the documentation, regulatory-compliance requirements, and servicing of commercial loans throughout their life cycle and provides customer service and administrative support to commercial-loan customers and lenders. She is also a member of the GSB PPP loan task force.

Royal will manage the maintenance of existing information systems and develop and implement the information-technology roadmap for the organization, as well as coordinating with other departments to understand business goals and challenges and implementing technology solutions to help the organization meet goals efficiently. She will also develop training programs for upgrades and system changes, ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, and participate in the hiring and training of the IT team.

Smith is responsible for gathering various documents and the information necessary for the underwriting and approval of commercial-loan transactions, as well as preparing commercial-loan documents, including commitment letters. She was a member of the first-round PPP loan task force, helping prepare customers’ documents. She has also been a participant of GSB shred fests, helping customers and the public prevent identity theft by shredding documents containing personal information.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Savings Bank (GSB) announced the recent promotions of Logan Anderson, Jessica Duffy, Michelle Ozdarski, Mary Pomeroy, and Jocelyn Walsh.

Anderson been promoted to Customer Service Call Center representative. In her new position, she will work in the GSB Call Center, assisting customers with a wide range of account services, tracking voice mails, and returning phone calls. In addition, she will also work as one of the video tellers for the bank’s network of Teller Connect ATMs, which are ATM machines that provide teller service via a live video feed at select GSB locations in Franklin and Hampshire counties. Logan first joined Greenfield Savings Bank as a teller in September 2018. She is a 2017 graduate of Pioneer Valley Regional School. She has been an active volunteer at community events, including the Great Falls Festival in Turners Falls, the Relay for Life in Greenfield, and the Franklin County Fair.

Duffy has been promoted to assistant office manager of the GSB South Deerfield Office. In addition to supervising the daily activities of the office and staff, she will also concentrate on business development and assist customers with a full range of banking services. Duffy first joined Greenfield Savings Bank in January 2017 as a teller and was previously promoted to the position of super banker. She has an associate degree in accounting from Greenfield Community College and is currently working on a degree at the Center for Financial Training.

Ozdarski has been promoted to senior Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering investigator and fraud analyst, responsible for monitoring, reviewing, researching, and analyzing transactions for potential money laundering or other illegal activity, such as terrorism financing and tax evasion. She is responsible for assisting customers with identity theft and other fraud-related issues. Ozdarski joined GSB in 1999 as a teller and the next year became the teller trainer. In 2008 she became the senior Operations specialist and recently held the title of BSA/ID theft manager. She earned an associate degree from Greenfield Community College in 1998.

Pomeroy has been promoted to office manager of the Greenfield and the Shelburne Falls offices. As the office manager, she oversees the operations of both offices and staff development. In addition, she also works with customers on all aspects of their banking and lending needs, including mortgage origination. She first joined GSB in March 2019 as the assistant office manager of the main office in Greenfield. She most recently was the office manager of the Shelburne Falls office. Pomeroy has earned diplomas in consumer lending, general financial services, and advanced financial services, as well as certificates in introduction to financial services and credit analysis and consumer lending from the Center for Financial Training. She is currently enrolled in Cambridge College, working toward an associate degree in business administration.

Walsh has been appointed assistant office manager of the GSB Shelburne Falls office. In her new position, she will oversee day-to-day office operations and assist customers with a full range of account and banking services. She first joined Greenfield Savings Bank in December 2015, starting as a teller in Shelburne Falls Office and later was promoted to a super banker at the Hadley Office. In 2019, she was promoted to assistant manager of the Hadley Office. Walsh has been a volunteer at a wide range of community events, including the WGBY Hadley Asparagus Festival, Shelburne Falls Moonlight Magic, and the Great Falls Festival.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Anna Zadworny has been promoted to assistant vice president and training and staffing manager at Greenfield Savings Bank.

In her new position, she will be responsible for facilitating one-on-one and classroom training for employees with a focus on enhancing employee development, including product knowledge, internal systems training, and compliance course oversight. She will also be responsible for maintaining appropriate levels of staffing in all offices and will assist in maintaining vendor relationships, record keeping, and training budget oversight. In addition to her training role, she coordinates and oversees the external audit process.

Zadworny began her career in the banking industry in 1990, and she joined Greenfield Savings Bank in 2012 as manager of its Northampton office. In 2016, she was promoted to office manager of the South Deerfield office, and in 2019, she was promoted to assistant vice president and office manager of the Greenfield office.

She earned an associate degree in business management from Holyoke Community College and is currently pursuing a business management degree with a minor in leadership from Bay Path University. She graduated with honors from Babson College in the financial studies program.

Zadworny is an active community volunteer at a wide range of local events and serves on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County and as assistant treasurer of the Salvation Army of Hampshire County. She is also a volunteer for the United Way of Hampshire County.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Savings Bank (GSB) recently announced the promotions of Kim Zabek, Jared Cyhowski, and Elisabeth Porter.

Zabek has been appointed assistant manager of the bank’s Hadley office. She will oversee the daily operations of the office and assist customers with their banking. She first joined Greenfield Savings Bank in August 2011 as assistant manager in Shelburne Falls, and in 2015 she was promoted to manager of the GSB call center. Most recently, she held the position of assistant manager of the South Deerfield office. An active community volunteer, Zabek has served on the board of Friends of Children in Hadley and is a member of the South Deerfield Women’s Club.

Cyhowski has been promoted to Loan Operations specialist. In his new position, he will work with customers providing residential and consumer loan servicing. He started his career at GSB as a teller supervisor and was previously promoted to customer-service representative in the bank’s call center.

Cyhowski joined GSB in May 2016 after attending Fitchburg State University, where he graduated with high honors in communications and a minor in English. He is a member of the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Studies Honor Society. He has volunteered at a range of community events, including Superhero Nights for Kids, where he wore a Mario (from Nintendo) costume, and he has volunteered at the Great Falls Festival (a/k/a Pumpkin Fest) in Turners Falls.

Porter has been promoted to Corporate Support specialist, with responsibilities of assisting and providing support services to the bank’s CEO, COO, and financial officer. Her daily responsibilities include assisting in the preparation of reports, scheduling meetings and events, and maintaining official minutes. She will also assist other Greenfield Savings Bank executives as needed.

Porter joined GSB in 2018 as a teller, and by October was promoted to customer service representative. This past March, she was promoted to the position of super banker. She is active in the community and volunteers at many GSB-sponsored community events.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Prudence Blond has been promoted to vice president and trust officer at Greenfield Savings Bank. In her new position, Blond, as a client service officer, oversees the administration and tax departments and also works with the Bank’s internal and external auditors.

Blond joined the bank after graduating from Greenfield Community College in 1997 as a teller. In 1999, she was promoted to trust operations associate with responsibility for processing operational work along with administrative assistant tasks of the GSB Trust Department. Over the next 10 years, she began to work directly clients and was promoted to assistant trust officer, then trust officer, then to assistant vice president and trust officer before her new promotion to vice president and trust officer.

After graduating from GCC, she earned a personal trust diploma through the American Bankers Assoc. in 2011 and a general financial services diploma through the Centre for Financial Training. She has continued to take educational classes in administration, personal tax preparation, trust and estate-tax preparation, financial planning, and IRAs. She earned her certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA) designation in 2012 through the Institute of Certified Banks.

Blond is currently serving on the board of directors, personnel committee, and nominating committee at LifePath Inc. (formerly known as Franklin County Home Care Corp.). She is a member of the annual campaign team at Greenfield Community College. She has previously served on the board of trustees, as treasurer, and as Sunday school superintendent at Robbins Memorial Church.

Banking and Financial Services

Past Is Prologue

President and CEO John Howland stands by a display commemorating GSB’s first 150 years. I

Greenfield Savings Bank has marked its sesquicentennial in a number of ways this year — from a party with cupcakes in the spring to presenting elm trees to a number of area communities it serves in the summer, to displaying its proud history, something it’s done pretty much all year long. Overall, though, it has celebrated by doing what it has done since it was founded in 1869 — serving as a rock-solid corporate citizen. And a vital partner to its many types of customers.

John Howland jokingly refers to it as his “high-school history project.”

He was referring to the large display of photographs and other materials that trace the 150-year progression of Greenfield Savings Bank. And it’s quite an exhibition.

Indeed, across two walls just off the main lobby and outside the main conference room hang a number of photos, postcards, and framed advertisements and documents that collectively tell the story of an institution that has changed considerably since Ulysses S. Grant roamed the White House — but also hasn’t changed in many ways, as we’ll see.

There are photos of bank lobbies from several different decades, a host of board presidents, groups of employees, Howland himself, who became GSB president in 2015, and many images of the old Mansion House Hotel.

The bank was relocated within the hotel property roughly a decade after its launch — it was one of several ground-floor retail sites — and was still there when the Mansion House was destroyed in a massive fire in January 1959 (there are pictures of that historic moment as well). The bank built its new headquarters roughly where the front lobby of the hotel once stood.

The historic Mansion House Hotel and GSB’s location within that property.

“So we’ve basically operated in the same location since 1880, and that’s very significant to me,” said Howland, adding that this history project is important, for customers and employees alike, because there has been much to commemorate during what has been a year-long celebration, punctuated by a large party in the spring.

Starting with the name over the door. It was Greenfield Savings Bank all those years ago, said Howland, and it still is. This despite the fact that many banks, as they have expanded beyond their original home and added branches in other counties and sometimes another state, have dropped the city or town from their name, opting for something more global and seemingly less defining. Meanwhile, almost every other institution that had ‘Savings’ in its name has dropped that, too, on the theory that it’s anachronistic and doesn’t convey the full line of services.

GSB has done none of that.

“Why would you want to change a name you’ve had for 150 years?” he asked before answering the question himself. “The idea that we’re somehow different because we’ve changed our name and don’t have ‘Savings’ in it anymore is disingenuous to me.”

But the bank is celebrating more than continuity — although that’s certainly important. There has been growth and expansion into other areas, including Northampton, Amherst, and, most recently, the community in between them, Hadley. There has also been a commitment to remain at the forefront of technology, said Denise Coyne, executive vice president and COO (and 41-year employee of the bank), and as evidence, she pointed proudly to the new interactive teller machines, or ITMs, in the drive-through lane, an initiative GSB calls Teller Connect. Customers can speak with a teller based in Turners Falls who can handle a wide range of transactions from that location.

The bank is also celebrating its work within the community, a commitment that manifests itself in a number of ways and on many different levels, including multi-faceted support of Monte’s March, the trek undertaken by radio station WHMP DJ Monte Belmonte to raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts (Howland himself was to be part of the second leg of the march, from Northampton to Greenfield).

Denise Coyne shows off one of the Teller Connect machines at GSB’s main branch in Greenfield.

But it also includes donating 30 elm trees in communities where the bank has a presence to replace just a few those lost to Dutch elm disease decades ago (these gifts, part of the 150th celebration, are resistant to the disease), and creating a foundation to support an ongoing project whereby students learning each of the trades at Franklin County Technical School collaborate to build a house from scratch (more on those initiatives later).

Mostly, though, the bank is celebrating what Howland called its “infinite horizon.” By that, he meant that this institution isn’t going anywhere, and it can act, and operate, accordingly.

“My job is to hand the keys over to someone else and have the company be better than it was when I got here,” he explained. “At the prior two organizations I worked for, and at many other banks, basically the mission was to figure out how to maximize the value for the shareholders in the shortest period of time and sell the organization; to that extent, our business plan is different than that of most other banks.”

For this issue’s focus on banking and financial services, BusinessWest talked at length with Howland and Coyne about GSB’s first 150 years and what will come next for this venerable institution.

Staying on Track

Hanging on a wall inside the conference room is a framed poster hyping the 20th Century Limited — the historic express passenger train on the New York Central Railroad that traveled between New York and Chicago — and its faster time for completing that run: 16 hours.

This might seem like an odd item to find in a bank headquarters building, but Howland offered an explanation that speaks volumes about how this institution celebrates its past but is by no means stuck in it.

“I put that poster up to remind us that we constantly have to be reinventing ourselves, constantly have to be figuring out how to do it better and faster,” Howland explained. “The poster represents the race between the New York Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad to attract customers to this high-profile route. When one company dropped their time, the other matched or exceeded it. They conceived idea after idea to improve service, cut down travel time, and maintain schedules. Banking today is just like that — we are all providing the same products. That’s why we continue to provide our customers with exceptional service, the most up-to-date technology, and offer competitive rates.”

And throughout its long history, the bank certainly has operated with that mindset.

Students at Franklin County Technical School work on the framing for a house they constructed in Erving through a program financed by a foundation created by GSB.

Indeed, while the name over the door hasn’t changed and the street address of the main branch has changed by just a few digits, the bank has evolved with the times and advancing technology, all while remaining a hugely important corporate citizen in a region that never had many and has seen those ranks decline over the past several decades.

Coyne, the bank’s longest-serving employee, has certainly seen this blend of change and continuity in her time.

She recalls doing most tasks by hand when she started as a teller at the Turners Falls branch (the only branch at the time) in 1978, and, in fact, she helped lead the institution into the computer age and a succession of improvements, including Teller Connect.

“The technology is so great that we can extend our hours — from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, you can talk with a teller,” she noted, adding that there are extended hours on Saturday as well. “It’s no different than if you go to a drive-up and talk with someone who’s in the building; we can do almost everything you could if you came into the lobby.”

Over the past four decades, Coyne, who has held a number of titles over the years and handled pretty much every assignment other than commercial lending, has seen the bank greatly expand its footprint, first into other communities within Franklin County, then into neighboring Hampshire County.

There are now five branches in Franklin County — in Greenfield, Conway, Shelburne Falls, South Deerfield, and Turners Falls — and the same number in Hampshire County — two in Amherst, two in Northampton, and the latest addition, the branch on Route 9 in Hadley.

That addition to the portfolio wasn’t exactly planned, said Howland, noting that it came about by circumstance — the closing of a credit union — and was viewed as an opportunity to more conveniently serve customers in that area.

Looking ahead, Howland doesn’t see much, if any, additional expansion. But he does see continuous work to improve customer service, take full advantage of ever-improving technology, and, overall, take full advantage of the infinite horizon he mentioned.

“That’s the biggest challenge we face — the non-bank competitors coming in picking off pieces of our business. It’s kind of like Walmart being able to do an MRI for you; it’s large companies picking and choosing where they can make something work.”

And all those qualities will be needed, he said, because, while the pace of consolidation within the banking industry has slowed somewhat, especially in this region, other threats have emerged, especially from what he called “non-bank competition.”

By that, he referred to Apple, Google, Alibaba, PayPal, and a host of other major companies that are chipping away at traditional bank business by creating services of their own in realms ranging from lending to payments to credit cards.

“That’s the biggest challenge we face — the non-bank competitors coming in picking off pieces of our business,” he explained. “It’s kind of like Walmart being able to do an MRI for you; it’s large companies picking and choosing where they can make something work.

“And then we, as an organization, have to provide everything for everyone,” he went on. “And sometimes it can become expensive to provide some products. It’s just capitalism — it’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it’s a challenge for us as an organization to maintain as much as we maintain and be able to provide an array of services for our customers.”

Saving Graces

To counteract these powerful forces, GSB has to focus on what differentiates it from those non-bank competitors and the larger regional banks so prevalent in this market, said Howland.

These differentiators include both a personalized brand of service and a deep portfolio of services, including a trust department, something most area banks no longer have, he went on.

As just one example, he cited the example of a customer entangled in a fraud situation.

“Unfortunately, the bank on the other side is a huge organization that really doesn’t care — they will not help at all, they won’t talk with us, they won’t do anything,” he noted. “I think the way we differentiate ourselves is the personalized service and the fact that our customers know they can count on us — they know they can call someone who cares and is going to do something about their problem.”

Beyond the brand and scope of services, another differentiator is the bank’s long history of involvement in the community and a commitment to continue that tradition, said Howland.

“As an organization, we’re very proud of our position in the community,” he told BusinessWest. “We’re dedicated to being the best corporate citizen we can be, and we’re involved in our community in many, many different ways.

“Obviously, we’re important in terms of the local economy, but it’s not just the economy that we focus on, it’s just the financial aspect of what we do,” he went on. “It’s striving to improve the conditions in our communities as best we can. We’re one of the larger philanthropic organizations in terms of straight dollar donations, but on top of that, our employees are involved in all kinds of stuff at all kinds of levels.”

And by ‘stuff,’ Howland meant much more than time and energy donated to the boards of dozens of nonprofits — although that’s a big part of it. There’s also volunteerism and the many forms it takes, he said, adding that the bank prides itself on backing up such efforts with dollars and other types of support.

“If an employee comes to me and says, ‘I think this is really important, and I have dedicated myself to volunteering time for it,’ more likely than not, we’ll make a fairly significant financial contribution to that charity on behalf of that employee.”

Overall, the bank is keenly aware of its role and its responsibilities within the largely rural areas it serves, particularly in Franklin County, he went on, adding that it is often asked to step up and, when possible, pitch in. Such was the case with the initiative involving Franklin County Tech and a proposal to have its students build houses.

The bank’s response was to go beyond writing a check and instead do something for the long term.

“I got a phone call from the tech school asking if we would make a donation to this program to build a house,” Howland recalled, adding that the bank eventually created the Franklin Technical School Building Society Inc., a foundation with its own board of directors that essentially finances the home-building project and is replenished when the house is sold.

“They earned a lot of money on the first house, and the second house will hopefully be sold in the spring of 2020, and another house will be started after that,” he went on. “The point of it is to create something that becomes self-sustaining, and ultimately, we hope this grows to the point where it can be a benefactor for other programs at the tech school.”

Long-term thinking was also the motivation for the bank’s decision two years ago to create the Greenfield Savings Bank Foundation. Funded with profits from the bank, it’s an initiative in keeping with GSB’s long-term horizon, said Howland.

“We funded it with $200,000, and our expectation is to continue funding it at some amount per year,” he explained. “My vision, and it will not be in the time that I’m president of the organization, is that, at some point, this foundation will be as large as, if not larger than, the bank, and I think we have the opportunity to do that.

“I’m most proud of where we are as a corporate citizen in our community, and my feelings are a reflection of our board of directors,” he added. “Our board is incredibly committed to making us the best business we can be in Franklin County and Hampshire County.”

Time Passages

There’s some additional 150th memorabilia in the main lobby of GSB’s headquarters.

On one wall, the very first passbook sits in a frame. And a glass display case in the center of the room holds everything from a photocopy of the first mortgage document (a loan issued in 1869 to one Jeremiah Eagan for a building on School Street) to news photos of the Mansion House fire, to a box of fountain pen nibs, a symbol of how things were done more than a half-century ago.

This collection speaks to the two qualities that are really being celebrated with this sesquicentennial — needed change and continuity.

There are plenty of other pieces of evidence outside the bank, from the house built by the technical-school students in Erving to elm trees growing in Look Park in Northampton, Montague center, and a host of other locations, to those branches in Hampshire County.

Together, they speak of a 150-year-old success story — and of many chapters still to come.

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