North branch ribbon cuttingIn 2001, INB was relatively new (again) to the Springfield market. Business was picking up, and the leadership team knew the bank needed to increase its physical presence. While the Montvale branch was serving customers on the west side of town, a location far north and another far south would make it easier to grow.

Pat Phalen, one of the original members of the management team and now the bank’s executive vice president, says: “As we got into 2001, we were going at a good clip. Now this was prior to electronic banking and everybody being mobile. We believed we had to be where the people were. We really needed more than two new branches, but we decided on two branches that we felt would hit most of the community.”

First the North End

15 years ago, North Dirksen Parkway consisted primarily of corn fields. Pat says, “When we met with Joe Carter (landowner) about buying a piece of property, we had a whole lot of choices. In early 2000, there wasn’t a lot north of Sangamon Ave. Maybe the hotels. But no Walmart, Menards, Lowes or Buffalo Wild Wings.”

“It was a great signage opportunity,” Pat recalls. You could shoot a photo from Sangamon and see our sign. “Now,” he says, “There are 40 – 50 signs down that road. What we thought as heavy traffic at the time is now four to five times more. I only wish we’d have put up a bigger sign!”

Pat doesn’t take credit for the location decision. He says, “It was actually pretty ingenious of us to be part of the growth. Joe did a great job in directing us.”

Service Most Important Part of Banking

Branch Manager Donna Smith was hired six months before the branch opened and has been at the helm ever since. “I have to admit, I kind of thought it was crazy,” she recalls. “We were out in the middle of nowhere.” But she knows now how right the decision was.

Donna said it was fun being part of the final stages of the build. “We got to pick out supplies and do things like stock the employee lounge.”

Donna was hired more for banking ability than her shopping skills, though. She’s been in the industry her entire career, starting with a bank on a U.S. Naval base in Guam. When she came back to the United States, she chose to serve a number of branch banks on the north side of Springfield including Land of Lincoln, First National, Mercantile and Williamsville State Bank.

While much has changed in banking over the years, Donna says it’s the personal touch that make INB different than the competition. We stand out in the market because we really get to know our customers, she says. “I know there’s a lot of technology that’s makes us great, too, but we offer personal, courteous customer service. We want customers to know we’re here to help.”

If anyone has a business partner, it’s Donna. When she came to INB, she was able to talk Julie Yuroff into joining her. They’ve been a banking team for 35 years now and, together, instill the concept of providing a personal touch to each banking transaction. “We want people to know we’re here for them,” she says. “We do offer great services like remote deposit. It’s great to have new technology on our side. But sometimes people just want to come in and talk to us in person. That’s why we’re here.”

One of those who rely on the North Dirksen team is long-time customer Guy Taylor, co-owner of Dick Taylor Collision Services. He says his personal and business relationship with INB started in the early 70s when he was a kid, opening a savings account. While he makes business deposits right from his business location on Old Rochester Road, he says he almost exclusively banks at the North Dirksen Parkway location. “It’s not only the convenience,” he says. “The staff members are like friends, they’ve been here so long. It’s always comfortable and inviting.” And when he has a problem, he knows he can call and talk to someone who knows him and his business. “That’s crucial,” Guy says. He also commends John Maxfield, his business loan officer, for working behind the scenes and making things happen. “It is really more of a friendship than business relationship,” he says of the bank and its employees.

And that’s just how we like it.