Over the course of his career in banking, John Maxfield has realized how important local leadership is.
John, senior vice president of commercial lending at INB, started at the original Illinois National Bank in 1979. When that INB merged and became First of America Bank, and then again changed to National City Bank, commercial lending grew difficult. Decisions were made in a different state by a group unfamiliar with the Central Illinois market.
“I watched employees leave National City, and then I watched customers leave, and it was hard,” John said. However, he then had the opportunity to rejoin INB – as a brand-new financial institution. “When I came over to the new INB, I was invigorated again.”
Illinois National Bank had existed under that name since the late 1800s, but between 1988 and 1998, it went through several mergers and acquisitions, shedding the INB name and becoming part of financial institutions that grew larger and larger.
In 1999, a group of investors decided to found a “new” Illinois National Bank.
A small national bank in Fairmount was purchased, becoming INB’s first branch. After the charter was established in Fairmount, the founders moved it to Springfield, purchasing the old CILCO building at 4th and Capitol streets. Shareholders came on board, and Illinois National Bank once again joined the Central Illinois scene.
What was particularly important to the new ownership group was not only doing business under the same name, but also hiring employees from the original Illinois National Bank.
“We were fortunate to get to hand-pick our employees, people we’d trained and mentored at other institutions who jumped on the chance to be part of this,” said Jim Antonacci, one of the founding members.
For returning employees like Mary Wenger, the chance to be part of INB again was exciting.
“The people were the reason I wanted to come back,” she said. “It was great seeing so many coworkers that grew up with me in the banking world. A few of us have known each other for 35 years.”
What Has Changed
The new INB has made the deliberate decision to grow slowly and intentionally, with a core focus on community and customer service. But despite being smaller, INB’s product offerings, state-of-the-art technology, and branch locations are expanding and thriving today.
“I came back after 13 years at another financial institution to numerous changes. The biggest change I’ve seen is the suite of products and services,” said Lynne Wooden, vice president, business solutions.
Employees from the original INB have also experienced the huge shift in technological advances in the banking industry.
“I think the technology is one of the biggest changes I’ve seen, which is of course due to the changing times and demands for service and security,” said Gina Burlingham, accounts payable clerk who worked at the original INB in 1987 and rejoined the team in 2016.
Steven Southwick, operations manager for INB, noted: “Customers are using online and mobile banking and direct deposit rather than coming into the branches to transfer funds and make deposits. Plus more customers are using automatic payments rather than writing checks.”
Though technology like online banking has been convenient, INB employees also strive to retain those personal interactions with customers like in the “old days.”
“So many people are doing their banking online, so you don’t see as many people in the bank and drive-up as you used to,” John said. “So you try to make more of an effort to talk to them or go to lunch with them now.”
What Has Remained
It’s not all been constant change of financial products and technology at INB, though.
Walk through the doors to INB today, and you’ll see many of the same faces as you did in the 70s and 80s – not only in leadership but across the board. Once INB’s team began to build again in 1999, former employees began to return year after year.
“It’s wonderful to see a lot of the same people,” Lynne said. “We really have a great team that works together well with a strong focus on providing quality services to our customers.”
Some things will likely never change – and much of that is thanks to the strong vision and value system of the company.
“I think the core values and ideas that were there when I started at the original INB are very much still front and center in how the bank operates today,” Gina said. “I credit this to the founding members of the ‘new INB’ who were, of course, an integral part of the original bank and are still part of the bank today.”
Steven said that after he was laid off from what was, at the time, the fifth biggest bank in the country due to a merger, he wanted to work for an employer aligned with his personal and professional priorities. He decided it was time to rejoin INB in 2000.
“I wanted to work for a smaller institution that truly cared about its customers and employees,” Steven said. “The sense of teamwork and dedication to customer service has remained the same.”