By: Lindsay Van Zele
There are customers whose business operations have been transformed by INB services like lockbox and efficient online payments.
There are customers who were “pushed out” of larger financial institutions and would not be thriving today without INB.
And there are customers who had a problem, needed some help or experienced fraud and were given undivided support by INB to alleviate those issues.
“To me, these relationships are what community banking is all about,” explains INB President and CEO Sarah Phalen.
“When I hear how INB has been able to help a customer or a company in this way, I feel like we have done our job; that’s what we are here for. The direct impact we are able to have on businesses in our community is why I choose to work at INB, and why I am so proud to represent INB in our community.”
Sarah reflects on these success stories as INB celebrates its 20th anniversary. Having been part of the team that first opened the bank in 1999, Sarah is also commemorating 20 years of service, alongside two other members of INB’s leadership team: Tom Gihl, Chief Operating Officer; and Pat Phalen, Executive Vice President/Trust Officer.
(And this group is not alone: seven other INB staff are also celebrating 20th service anniversaries this quarter.)
It All Started with a Plan
In the beginning, there wasn’t a bank yet – just a plan.
A group of INB founders bought the charter of a small bank in Fairmount, Ill., that had $8 million in deposits. Then they moved the charter to Springfield’s current Main Branch on Capitol Ave.
INB’s doors opened on June 21, 1999, with two locations and about two dozen employees.
“Now we are a billion-dollar bank, with 270 employees and 13 locations. That is significant,” Pat says. “And we aren’t stopping.”
Looking back to those early days, it’s easy to compare INB to a family growing up together.
“Hiring some young, hardworking, smart people and watching them grow into experienced bankers that are professional, inquisitive and always looking to grow was the best experience I have ever had,” Sarah says.
“This bank was ripe for anyone wanting to learn and grow, and we have some amazing people to show for that. We saw them get married, have kids and grandkids -- and all while growing their customer base or expanding their work focus. I still see them all as the young kids that they were when they first started… I think I will always see them that way!”
Why INB Culture Sets Us Apart
Creating a relationship-centric culture has been a result of intention and hiring staff who embrace INB values.
“Having spent over 37 years in banking, I can truly say that the culture at INB is different than in any other organization I have worked,” Tom says. “We are all fortunate to work in the environment we have here at INB.”
“INB is a place where learning, asking questions and hard work are valued. We have a collaborative approach to decision making, not seeking a consensus but realizing the right or best idea can come from anyone,” he adds. “We do not fear change and embrace the uncertainty in our industry knowing that it will provide opportunities for staff and the bank to grow.”
“Culture is a combination of setting the right tone and hiring the right people,” Pat explains.
“We can say all of the right things, but if we hire people who don’t care about the customer, the employees and the brand, then it doesn’t matter. If we do what is right for the customer and we care about each other, then our culture is sound. And if the culture is right… why wouldn’t you want to work here?”
Staff Works Together for Greater Good
It’s not only customer and employee experiences that matter at INB. Community involvement and betterment has been a key driver of the bank.
“The biggest satisfaction I get is seeing our staff getting involved for the greater good,” Pat shares. He points to the Kids Café project and the American Heart Association’s Little Hats Big Hearts campaign as examples of INB staff coming together for positive community impact.
“The Little Hats Big Hearts campaign not only captured the attention of a lot of our staff, but customers got involved too,” he says. “Some donated cash, some donated yarn, and a bunch of customers got into knitting hats for newborns in our area – we ended up with thousands of hats! All because an employee had a great idea to help in the community.”
Being in leadership from the beginning, Tom has witnessed the massive amount of change both in banking and through INB’s growth. Yet it’s what hasn’t changed in 20 years that leaves the biggest impression on him.
“It is a testament to everyone that has or does work here today that we have not lost our desire to make INB better in any way we could,” he says. “This does not happen by accident or on its own; it takes everyone growing in self-awareness and thinking about it every day. Everyone contributes to this effort.”