A bank without boundaries

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How did a small community bank, with one office in Ravenna, attract commercial clients in Canton, Hartville and Munroe Falls? By offering a convenience yet unmatched in the area by both larger banking institutions and other local banks: free courier service.

Portage Community Bank began offering courier service a year ago to attract a wider base of clients who might not otherwise find it convenient to do their banking in Ravenna. The bank’s president and CEO, Richard Coe, got the idea from a bank in Columbus that had expanded its customer base by offering to pick up its customers’ deposits free of charge. The Columbus bank now has 16 full time drivers who make daily runs to commercial customers, far beyond the geographic area it would otherwise be able to service.

Portage Community Bank has added about 35 commercial customers since it began offering the service and employs two full-time drivers who pick up their daily deposits. Clients vary in industry, says Coe, who cites customers in manufacturing, insurance, medicine and food equipment.

“We believe this is a unique service and a tremendous savings for our clients in that they do not commit personal expenses on a daily basis to simply do their banking,” says Coe.

Before the bank could offer the service, it had to get approval from the federal government and the state of Ohio to operate as a mobile branch, says Connie Bennett, vice president and COO. After gaining approval, the bank tested the service by offering it to existing clients, saving them the trip to the office.

“We asked our customers if we could try it out on them,” she says.

After a positive response, the bank started marketing it to potential commercial clients within a 30-mile radius.

Bennett says other banks offer a courier service to their larger clients, but those banks charge for the service and use outside carriers such as Brinks to make the runs. To her knowledge, Portage Community Bank is the only bank in the area offering this service for free.

Portage Community Bank was established in 1998 by a group of local investors. It employs 26 associates and holds approximately $78 million in assets. How to reach: Portage Community Bank, (330) 296-8090