Expected Service Leads to Unexpected Growth in Bloomington-Normal
By Marilyn Titone Schaefer
AVP, Communications Director
Mortgage Lender Curt Vance has been part of INB-Bloomington-Normal since the bank opened a loan office in Bloomington in December 2012. Just three weeks into the job, Curt got a call from someone who was told by another lender on closing day that the closing wasn’t going to happen . . . ever. “I’d been at INB three weeks,” says Curt. “Yet the team worked with me, and we closed in four days! That made us look really, really good.”
“The customers loved it,” Curt continues. “They thought they weren’t going to be able to buy a house, but we came through for them.” Curt says it’s the INB process that made the difference. “We don’t move our closing dates. We stick to our word. People want that.”
Curt says he has personally helped over 200 people buy homes in the Bloomington area since he joined INB. Mortgage growth, combined with a strong base of local business customers, helped INB reach its goal of opening a full service bank two years earlier than originally planned.
John Wilson, INB’s chief lender, credits the mortgage team for growth that exceeded expectations. When INB opened the loan office, John explains the bank needed to generate $50 million in loans. We exceeded those expectations which allowed us to build a full-service branch in the community. The branch can accept deposits . . . something a loan office can’t do . . . and deposits are a critical piece of the lending mix. The more loans a bank makes, the more money it needs to make those loans. The money typically comes to the bank in the form of customer deposits.
INB chose to build its Bloomington branch at the corner of East Washington and Prospect roads because of the location’s visibility. Also, the building had been a bank, so drive-up lanes were already in place.
“The space was really worn down though,” John explains. “We had everything ripped out inside to the bricks . . . the space had been two building that weren’t flush. To remedy that, we got rid of the step down between buildings. We added offices. We redid the parking lot; replaced the fascia.”
Space Designed for Today’s Banking Needs
As the construction crew took out the building’s old, paneled walls, designers began filling in the details needed to make the space a modern banking facility. Instead of traditional teller lines, the branch has space in the lobby for customers to quickly make deposits or sit down with a banker for a private conversation. A coffee bar, TV, modern furniture and commissioned artwork give the space a distinctive look and feel.
But a nice, visible building is only part of the story. INB also recently hired key staff to make sure things run as they should. “We’re already strong in the Bloomington market when it comes to mortgage loans,” John says, yet he expects our newest lender, Mark Larsen, to really help get our name out in the community. Our new branch Manager Brienne Rudesill, and Universal Banker Dustin Hodges, know the inner workings of community banking. They’ve lived in the Bloomington-Normal for years and have a great customer service approach.
Commercial Lender Chris Thoennes came to INB to build our commercial lending program in Bloomington. Chris, a lifelong resident of the area, says he, like Curt, believes INB lives up to its tagline of “We Make Banking Easy.” “It may sound cliché,” he says, “but I’ve seen it in action. I’m able to take really good care of our customers.”
Chris adds that Bloomington-Normal is a great market for business. “People naturally think of State Farm, but our strong economic engine is actually comprised of a diverse group of industries and sectors.” He notes that the community’s leaders do a great job with economic development. “There’s a concerted effort to leverage our community’s strengths to achieve growth and sustainability.”