by: Diane Sweeney
When the acronym for your name is FUN, what choice do you have but to embrace it? First United National Bank, headquartered in Fryburg, PA, not only embraces it but incorporates it into its way of doing business. The bank’s tagline is The Fun Bank, and the bank’s leaders work hard every day to make fun a reality for their customers and employees.
Fryburg, near the border of Clarion and Venango counties, was an area defined in the 1800s where some of the first oil wells in America were drilled. Central to the growing petroleum industry of the time, the towns along the Allegheny became headquarters for motor oil companies like Pennzoil, Quaker State and Wolf’s Head.
When the big firms moved south to follow the oil, First United National Bank stayed. And grew. As some of the bigger banks moved out, FUN Bank acquired other banks and expanded into Oil City, New Bethlehem, Clarion, Franklin and Cranberry. While other banks have left the area, this year marks First United National Bank’s 110th anniversary as a mainstay in its community.
FUN Bank has always supported the people in its communities through transition.
“People like to deal with a business that is local. As bigger banks moved out, we benefited,” shares Bob Cross, Manager of the Oil City branch. “Our decisions are made on a local level. We know the people, we sit on committees with them, they are our neighbors. We are part of the community.”
With $265 million in assets, the relationship between FUN Bank and the communities they serve is strong. As the residents of these blue-collar towns work hard to transform themselves into an artist’s community or a tourist destination in western Pennsylvania — FUN Bank helps with financing restoration of buildings and startups.
Each branch location is part of a whole, yet independent in their work to help their customers and towns grow.
One of the ways bank management makes it easy for their employees to embrace the ‘FUN’ is to allow each branch to choose which events and activities to support and attend.
Scott Daum, President and CEO, says, “Our employees are the face of the bank. When our customers see us out doing more than just handling their transactions, we build recognition. There is loyalty and trust that comes from our local community involvement.”
Every bank branch supports local festivals that are run during the summer and fall in the towns of western Pennsylvania. This year was no exception.
At the Mayfest in Fryburg, bank employees created a float for the parade and assisted at vendor booths. They also are sponsors for Light the Night held in December. Both events are for the community to unite and enjoy time together.
In July, at the Oil Heritage Festival in Oil City, FUN Bank opened their parking lot to vendors and nonprofits, set up a stand of their own giving away hot dogs, and sponsored the Thursday in the Plaza Concert.
“Anything we can do to help our community — we do it,” says Cross. “And our employees have a lot of fun participating, too.”
This fall, FUN Bank sponsored the Antique and Classic Car Cruise, at the Apple Festival in Franklin, as well as volunteering and selling merchandise for the local Chamber of Commerce.
In Clarion, at the autumn Leaf Festival, FUN was the sponsor of the Free Oldies concert featuring the band American Pie. FUN employees also volunteered at the Peanut Butter Festival in New Bethlehem.
“Each community has their own focus and need,” says Daum. “We work with our employees, who are like family, to have every opportunity to be out there representing the bank, but more important, giving back to the community.”
FUN Bank is also a longtime supporter of the United Way and 4-H.
“These nonprofits are a huge part of our communities,” says Michele MacDonald, manager of the Franklin and Cranberry branches. “We need to be involved with them too.”
Sometimes in a very big way!
At the Venango County Fair, FUN Bank is not only an annual sponsor (and listed on their billing as The FUN Bank!) but also participates in the 4-H Livestock Auction. This year they bid on and won a Grand Champion Dairy Beef. They purchase the livestock and then donate the animal back to the 4-H scholarship fund.
“We always try to buy from one of our customer’s children, “MacDonald shares. “This brings the relationship full circle. We support one another and the organization is helping our children as well.”
Another fun night this year — and a very profitable one — was Battle of the Bankers.
Held to benefit the Imagination Library, a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age 5, and supported by the United Way, Battle of the Bankers was a friendly competition between seven local bank branches in Franklin.
Employees from each bank served as bartenders for 45 minutes. Tips earned during their time were tallied — and the FUN Bank employees won! They were tipped $1,830 of the total $6,985 raised that evening.
Michelle MacDonald was one of the bartenders. “The support from our customers was amazing. Some just came in and put money in the tip jar. It was a great time, and we helped a wonderful organization.”
The Oil City branch supports reading for young children in a different way. The branch office is located across from the Oil City Public Library. Each summer, employees are able to go across the street to participate in the summer reading program.
Cross says, “We support them financially, and our employees are able to go into the library to read to the kids. It is a fun and easy way to support a great program.”
There are school visits to teach fourth graders about money, career days in high schools, chamber events, customer appreciation days, employee dress down days, and more. The fun at FUN Bank seems to never stop.
“It’s doing business naturally, “says MacDonald. “Our employees really want to go out and be part of it all. We learn who has a leaky roof or needs a driveway paved. We offer what we can to help — and they become our customers. There is no pressure or expectation of sales that you have in a larger banking environment. Sure, we need to be fiscally responsible. But most days, it just seems to happen in a comfortable way.”
Or … as Scott Daum says, “It’s all about being real.”
What a fun way to do business!