Communities across Pennsylvania are growing and thriving because their community banks care. The service and commitment demonstrated by community bank employees keep customers faithful, and their sincerity keeps others hopeful. Because of these employees, communities across the Commonwealth are thriving and becoming better places to live and work.
When it comes to community banking in Pennsylvania, the uniqueness, talents, and attributes of the 14,000 individual community bank employees combine to make the entire industry greater than the sum of its parts. As we travel across the state, we meet community bank employees from various backgrounds. Some are new, while others have worked their entire careers in the industry. No matter how long these employees have been involved in banking, they all share a common thread – a love for their community. They truly are the ones responsible for bettering their hometowns.
As part of an ongoing series, we feature interviews with these community bank employees, these “Hometown Champions.” Through these interviews, we hope to gain some insight into what makes the community banking industry great in Pennsylvania.
This month, we spoke with Bank of Bird-in-Hand, headquartered in Bird-in-Hand, PA. This community bank remains committed to improving the quality of life in the community it proudly serves.
Diana Pacheco – VP, Loan Documentation Manager
- How did you get into community banking? I remember visiting our local community bank with my parents when I was a child. Watching how the employees interacted with my parents and provided the best customer service, especially since there was a language barrier, they are Spanish speaking, felt genuine. I knew then that I wanted to help and serve the people in my community the same way those employees helped my parents. In 2003 I applied for a customer service position with Farmers First Bank. That was my first experience working for a small community bank. Over time, the bank grew, and several mergers took place. Twelve years later I was given the opportunity to go back to those original roots of working for a small community bank. It’s been 7 ½ years, and working for Bank of Bird-in-Hand has been and continues to be an amazing experience. That community bank feeling continues to grow stronger each day.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of working in community banking? As an employee you are recognized for the hard work you put in each day. It truly feels like a work-family environment as opposed to an institution that only looks at numbers and ratings. All decisions are made in house with minimal to no disruption or delays to our customers. The culture is unique, but humbling, and banks tend to adapt to the areas they serve. But the most rewarding part is when you witness firsthand how you have helped a customer achieve their dreams or goals. Whether it was a loan they were approved for to purchase their first home, an agricultural loan to help with their farming expenses, opening their first deposit account, or even meeting their business needs.
- What’s your definition of a community bank? My definition of a Community Bank is, “A Bank that is privately owned and strives to meet the needs of its local customers and businesses, based on the geographical area they serve, while building and maintaining a strong relationship with those customers.”
- Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know. As much as I enjoy the business environment and helping others, there was a point in my life where I wanted to focus on art. Knowing I can be creative in my own unique way, without feeling judged is why I wanted to shift gears in my career. Now, it is a hobby that still provides me with a sense of fulfillment and a way of coping when I’ve had a stressful day.
- What is the fifth photo in your camera roll on your phone, and can you please share the story behind it? The fifth picture in my camera roll is a picture I took of the painting I made for my brother and his family. I usually don’t share my drawings or paintings with anyone. They are personal, especially when there is a meaning behind the drawing. However, I truly believe that art gives us meaning, a sense of purpose, and helps us view and understand the world we live in. If sharing this piece with you all brings a positive feeling, then I am willing to share it. There are five flowers, which represent each member of my brother’s family. The flower is like a swan river daisy, but I made it my own. My favorite color is blue; therefore, I used blue for the petals to show my love and appreciation. And lastly, I intertwined the stems as a representation that no matter how crazy and tangled life may seem or get, at the end of the day, their connection is what matters.
Ben Harris – Senior Risk Analyst
- How did you get into community banking? I started my career as a teller at a community bank in Berks County, right after graduating from high school. My interest and experience in the banking industry grew stronger as I took on roles in operations, compliance, and enterprise risk.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of working in community banking? The most rewarding aspect is being part of a team that has a direct, positive impact on the community that we serve. Talking to our customers, hearing their stories, and watching their businesses grow and thrive is what makes me passionate about the work that we do.
- What’s your definition of a community bank? Two major points come to mind when I consider the definition of a community bank. First, a community bank is in touch with the financial needs of the consumers that live and work in the areas they serve. Second, a community bank is a friendly, inviting place that folks in the community enjoy visiting. A typical trip to the bank isn’t all that exciting, but I think most community banks thrive on knowing their customers and providing a top-notch experience when they walk through the door.
- Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know. I love to travel and have vacationed in Spain, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic (to name a few). Years ago, I visited Key West for the first time and have returned at least 15 times since.
- What is the fifth photo in your camera roll on your phone, and can you please share the story behind it? This past weekend, I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon walking around historic downtown Bethlehem. When we sat down for lunch, the food looked too good not to snap a picture of it.
Jordan Zook – Credit Manager, VP
- How did you get into community banking? I got into community banking after working for one of the larger banks in the country. During my time at the large bank, I had the feeling of just being another number on the balance sheet. There was little opportunity to learn and grow as my daily responsibilities were hyper focused on only a few tasks. There also wasn’t much opportunity to build relationships with customers and staff. Most importantly, it was difficult to see the direct, positive impact the bank had on its customers as my location serviced the entire east coast. My experience at a large bank resulted in me pursuing a smaller bank that was more community focused such as the Bank of Bird-In-Hand.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of community banking? The most rewarding aspect of community banking is being able to see the direct, positive impact the bank has on the communities that we serve. Being born and raised in Lancaster, it was important for me to find a bank that positively impacts my community. During my almost six years with the Bank of Bird-In-Hand, I have been blessed with the opportunity to experience firsthand how community banks positively impact their service areas. This impact can be seen in a variety of ways and can be as basic as providing retail services to areas that are underserved. It can be providing financing to purchase or construct improvements that fill a need and improve the quality of life of people in the area. I have also greatly enjoyed assisting small businesses capture new opportunities through financing and seeing the positive effects of that captured opportunity through improved financial performance. Personally, seeing the positive impacts that community banks have on their service areas is a great source of motivation to continue to meet our customers’ needs, and therefore improve our community.
- What’s your definition of a community bank? A community bank is a bank that is in existence to service the needs of the community in which it is located. A true community bank adapts and tailors its products to best serve the ever-changing needs of the community it serves.
- Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know? I have been with my wife for 18 years, and we started dating in junior high.
- What is the fifth picture in your camera roll on your phone, and can you please share the story behind it? The fifth picture in my camera roll is a picture of myself with my cat Laila. Laila was rescued about three years ago after she was run over by a child on a bike.
Joe Martinez – Commercial Lender
- How did you get into Community Banking? As a senior in high school, I had the pleasure of starting my career with a local community bank serving the role of a part-time teller. To this day I continue to use the principles I learned early in my career.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of community banking? Communities thrive because healthy relationships exist between small businesses and the diverse households that make up the roots of that community. Working for a community bank allows me to support local decisions to help sustain and grow these relationships.
- What’s your definition of a community bank? Community banks are proactive institutions that provide tailored solutions to meet the needs of each member of a community using creative and quality service. In short community banks are the glue that keeps communities together.
- Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know? I went skydiving in Las Vegas for my 40th birthday. It was an amazing experience that I plan on continuing for years to come.
- What is the fifth picture in your camera roll on your phone, and can you please share the story behind it? It is a picture of me and my boys on a recent fishing trip.