We’re standing in the future home of Encore Bank on Weller Avenue just north of Independence Street. When will it open and how many employees?
We should have a permit this week and since it’s in the inside shell, it’s not a ground up, it should take 120 days or less. This is approximately 6,000 square feet. At the pinnacle, we’re going to have 12-15 employees.
Where’s your focus as a financial institution?
We’re a digital company. We do online, mobile applications and we invest into the digital aspect instead of the brick and mortar. It’s like ATMs, we don’t need them. Why would we spend $1,000 a month on rent to put in a $100,000 piece of equipment and maintain $30,000 cash in there? What we do is you have an ATM debit card. If you’re in California, you use it (and) get a $2.50 fee, we just refund the fee to you. COVID has really tested our theory. This mobile, digital aspect is here to stay. I was the president of Simmons Bank here in southwest Missouri, and we have 21 locations in nine counties and when COVID hit, even when we reopened, nobody came. At Encore, we’re up 120% on the mobile apps, we’re up 190% on online users. That’s where everybody’s going. It’s really kind of proven our theory. We don’t need a lot of branches, a lot of ATMs or even a lot of employees. What we need are quality employees. Instead of the millions of millions of dollars in brick and mortar, we’ll spend the money in digital technologies.
Encore Bank, previously Capital Bank, was formed in 2019 after a leadership change. Officials report doubling the bank’s assets in its first year and more than doubling again in 2020. Much of that is credited to shareholder investments. What’s behind that strategy?
It’s partnership. The shareholders we seek, those that want to be a part of us, they bring their business. Instead of making a mass marketing campaign and spending hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s the word of mouth. If you want to invest into Encore, you can. That’s the difference between us and a lot of other financial institutions out there. Most banks have a set number of people, and they own the majority of the bank and they run it. It also spreads out across even our associates. They bought into the bank as employees.
Encore is based in Little Rock, Arkansas, but has expanded in the past year to Texas and Springfield. Why these markets? Does Springfield need another bank?
Where there’s a lot of banks, there’s a lot of opportunity. Everyone wants to be in growth areas and Springfield is very much vibrant. We’re looking at Nashville, we just took on Tampa, northwest Arkansas and so forth. Springfield has always supported numerous banks because of the growth and because of the activity here. We don’t see it slowing down. Our pipeline is very full and even our deposit base is very full. We’re pretty much almost profitable.
Your Springfield branch is located adjacent to Keller Williams Greater Springfield’s new headquarters. Leaders at the brokerage envisioned this strip to house ancillary real estate services. Do you have a partnership with Keller Williams on mortgage services?
No. That’s just part of those relationships is being here. We’re going to support them as best we can with mortgage loan officers and closings.
Even with your investment into the digital space, you’re still investing in a branch location. Will that help serve small-business customers? I’m thinking of those who need a place to make deposits.
We’ll take deposits; we’ll have night drops and cash on hand. But the majority of businesses we’re talking to over the last year, why would they keep cash on hand? Everything is going digital. I can’t tell you the last time I paid in cash. Small business is a very big part of what we’re doing. We have (a U.S. Small Business Administration) department.
Doug Parker can be reached at email@example.com
Company commissions locally produced pieces that highlight takeaways of the pandemic.
Becky Thomas, co-owner of Third Street Sportswear, discusses an issue she sees in how business is presented to young women. She says because social roles are different for men and women, women can be led to expect an unrealistic work-life balance as business owners.
Randy Bacon, a longtime professional photographer based in downtown Springfield, says preparation before making big decisions helped him transition between important stages in his life. He says his big decisions were ultimately a big leap of faith.
Andrea Petersberg, owner of the Local Bevy, says the appeal of a local store holds a lot of value for people in and outside of Springfield. Petersburg says being a supporting part of the local connection for artists is important for her.
Randy Bacon, professional photographer and humanitarian, shares his story on how he left his job in the corporate world to pursue his dream. Now 60 years old and with signature character to his photography and business, he says he still is a 15-year-old boy with a camera.
Becky Thomas, co-owner of Third Street Sportswear, gives her advice for maintaining good relationships with clients. Drawing on her experience working with customers coast to coast, Thomas says equity and fairness are some of the best ways to build trust and respect.
Don Helms, co-owner of Munchie Moe’s, says it's important to know your business and to think ahead of your supply chain. Helms says COVID-19 has changed the way he has experienced business operation. He says foresight is key.
Janet Susdorf, business consultant and founder of Brain Power for Hire, LLC, discusses the importance of adapting and learning from failure. Drawing from the struggles she has faced in her own life as a sixtime cancer survivor, Susdorf talks about when to fight and when to accept change.
Jennifer Charleston, a 20-year veteran of the Springfield Police Department and the only female lieutenant in the department, talks with SBJ’s Christine Temple about her career in law enforcement and her new position in the department as a liaison to the LGBTQ+ community.
Moving from physical meetings to digital meetings can feel like a barrier, but Mackenzie Scherer, an independent technology business consultant, says it can be an opportunity. Scherer says that with good moderation, a digital meeting experience can make people feel more included in the discussion.
Abby Glenn, development director for Habitat for Humanity, says corporate partners are a huge asset to the work they do. Corporate donation matching programs help individual donors feel they are contributing more and help Habitat for Humanity cover the large costs of their projects.