Page 45 - BusinessWest January 20, 2021
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notched the first goal of the game, and Rouette, then the all-time scoring leader for the Mustangs, recorded the game clincher.
As for the finals game ... that did notgoaswell—alosstoanunde- feated Wahconah team that still stings three and half decades later. (Moriarty wasn’t able to play in that contest due to a broken ankle he suffered in the semifinal.)
But while they do like to look back, Moriarty and Rouette are obviously far more focused on the present and the future.
As for the former, that means every- thing from coping with the many aspects of COVID-19 to growing the bank’s latest branch, on North Main Street in East Longmeadow, which opened last summer, in the middle of the pandemic.
That timing wasn’t perfect — many branch lobbies were still closed — but the new facility is off to a solid start.
“We had a good core group of customers in Longmeadow and East Longmeadow,” Moriarty said. “We transitioned them internally to the East Longmeadow branch, so we had a good start, and we’re looking to have that branch in a good position in a shorter period than you normally would in a new market.”
As for the pandemic itself, it’s
been a time for the bank to play to its strengths — yes, that’s still another sports phrase — and use its focus on customer service to not only take care of (and retain) existing customers, but also gain some new ones. This has been the case on all fronts, but espe- cially with the commercial lending portfolio and the bank’s strong track record handling applications for Pay- check Protection Plan (PPP) loans.
“We basically got out in front of it,”
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between 60 and 80 clients suspended service for some period of time last spring — to what to do with caregivers sidelined by those suspensions of services (they kept them on the payroll); from the need to secure PPE for staff and train them in how to use it, to paying what became exorbitantly high prices for that PPE.
“We were experiencing the same problem every- one else was encountering — where to buy it,” he recalled. “And if we could find it ... it was a terrible experience; things that we were paying 30 cents for were now costing us $1.25 or $1.50. The N-95s that were costing us 95 cents or a dollar ... we were now paying $4.50 to $6 per mask.”
Flahive-Dickson agreed, and said procuring the needed supplies became a “24-hour mission” that involved all those at the company. But elements of that experience were rewarding, and even uplifting, she went on, citing volunteer efforts to not only make masks for some of the home-care providers, but also donate supplies to other institutions that were having issues, as well as gift bags to seniors and veterans.
But despite the pandemic, and in some ways
the community, which mirrors the work of Lowell, Desrochers, and oth- ers that came before them. This work comes in many forms, with Moriarty devoting time and energy to several groups, including the East of the River Chamber of Commerce (he’s a board member), the Baystate Health Com- munity Benefits Advisory Council, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Brightside Golf Classic, and Monson High School, where he’s the assistant varsity soccer coach.
As for Rouette, he is similarly involved, but focuses most of his time on the YMCA of Greater Springfield, with which the bank has long enjoyed close ties. “Everyone has a passion,
and that’s mine,” he said, adding that he’s been a long-time board member and supporter on many levels.
Bottom Line
Summoning still another sports analogy of sorts, Moriarty said it is cus- tomary, at least with good teams, to look ahead, not back, when a season ends.
“Because it’s January, we say, ‘last season’s over ... we finished Decem- ber, we did well, but now it’s 0-0, and we’ve got a new season ahead of us,’” he noted, adding that, given the many variables confronting banks — and
all businesses, for that matter — it’s impossible to know how this new sea- son will go.
What these two do know is that Monson Savings Bank will, as noted, continue to play to its strengths, honed over many years and under leaders that these two have learned from.
In short, there’s a winning formula at the bank, and their only real plans for the future are to continue using it. u
George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]
 Dan Moriarty, left, and Mike Rouette both found a common denominator between their soccer squad from the ‘80s and the staff at Monson Savings — the importance of solid teamwork.
 said Rouette as he explained the bank’s basic strategy with the PPP program and its commercial customers in gen- eral. “We knew that that they [custom- ers] couldn’t be chasing us. We had
a great team effort to reach out to all our business customers; we said, ‘we know there’s an issue, we know PPP is coming down the road, and when the spigot opens, we’ll be there for you.’ And we did it.
“People needed to hear your voice,” he went on, adding that every com- mercial customer was called in an effort to gauge their needs and con- cerns and update them on the status of their application. “And that calmed people, that they weren’t on voice mail or weren’t able to get through.”
This high level of customer service enabled the bank to handle PPP loans for non-customers, gains that both Moriarty and Rouette chalked up to word-of-mouth referrals that should have some long-term benefits for the institution as a new round of the pro- gram begins later this month.
Looking back, and ahead, Mori- arty said he was mentored by his two immediate predecessors, Lowell and Roland Desrochers, and he under- stands what has made the bank suc- cessful — especially its employees and community-bank look, feel, and oper- ating values — and has no intention of altering the game plan.
“The vision for the bank is to con- tinue to be the community bank that these communities need,” he told Busi- nessWest. “From a business side, com- mercial customers as well as retail cus- tomers, we want to stay competitive in our delivery systems — digital, mobile ... we can have people bank with us from Monson to the Cape and into Connecticut. We want to be relevant in the communities we serve for not just today, but for years to come.
“The culture will remain the same,” he went on. “And we’re just going to leverage the talent we have inside the bank.”
Meanwhile, both men intend to continue their active involvement in
JANUARY 20, 2021 45
because of it, the company has been able to maintain its strong pace of growth.
As Flahive-Dickson noted, attitudes about bring- ing people into the home — at least when viewed through the lens of a nursing home or similar facility being the most logical alternative — have certainly changed.
“We were getting calls all the time — the phone was ringing off the hook,” she said. “People were tak- ing their loved ones out of facilities and saying, ‘now I need help.’
“There are many reasons why the home is now
a safer haven than a facility, with the most obvious being that, if you’re having someone being taken care in the home, you have less than a handful of people taking care of that person,” she went on. “It’s the same person or the same team, and they are fully equipped with PPE. And they see only that one per- son, rather than going from room to room to room.”
These changing perceptions, along with a contract with the Commonwealth Care Alliance, one if its larg- est providers, and a growing relationship with the Veterans Administration, should help the company as it now moves forward with its expansion into Central Mass. — it now has a small number of clients in the
Worcester area and a satellite office in Marlboro — and also into Boston, with another satellite office to open soon on Cambridge Street, said Brian Santani- ello, the company’s chief of staff and a stakeholder.
“One of our primary goals for 2021 is to expand in those markets,” he said, adding that the company has a toehold in Worcester and Northern Connecticut, and is still in the infancy stages of its push into Bos- ton, but expects the market share to grow steadily in all three regions over the next few years.
Forward Thinking
Moving forward, Golden Years is advancing plans to provide home care in multiple states, and that’s just one component of a larger expansion strategy.
Indeed, Ruiz and his team are preparing to unveil a staffing component, and it has already launched its behavioral-health division, one that was, as noted, partly inspired by the pandemic and the dramatically rising need for behavioral- and mental-health servic- es, and likewise driven by recognized need for such services among the home-care clientele.
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