When you step into Independence Bank in St. Matthews, you’ll be welcomed with a warm smile and friendly greeting that has nothing to do with the size of your bank balance. Treating people as welcomed guests is just the way the Bank does business.
More than 20 years ago, when current CEO Chris Reid stepped in to run the Reid family’s two small community banks, Farmers and Merchants Bank and Providence State Bank, big banks were avidly buying up smaller banks and bringing in a corporate way of doing business. The emphasis was on profitability and not people.
Chris envisioned a different approach, a “revolution” that would strive to keep the community focus at the forefront of everything they do. “It wasn’t about change,” he emphasizes. “The revolution was about taking the profession back to when it was great.”
By 1997, the two family banks were merged into one and renamed Independence Bank, and Chris focused on what he felt was the foundation for the Bank’s success and growth: its employees. He set out to bring bankers on board who shared his vision about how banking should be and had the financial expertise to serve their customers’ ever-changing needs.
Many of the bank’s original customers were farmers, and you can still see that reflected in the wide range of agricultural services it provides, but Independence Bank also offers the full range of financial services found at bigger banks, and that reflects the expertise of the top industry talent Independence Bank has attracted over the years.
One of those banking experts is lifelong Louisville resident Louis Straub, who serves as the President for the Louisville market. With more than 30 years experience, Louis has served in many management and financial leadership roles in the commercial banking industry. Even if you don’t have an account yet at Independence Bank, if you live in St. Matthews, chances are you’ve already met him.
From local school events to the community street fair, Louis is out meeting the people who live and work in the area and giving away Independence Bank t-shirts, bags and other goodies. He’s often joined by Tracy Reid, the bank’s Treasury Management Officer. During the day, she serves Independence Bank’s business and corporate clients, helping them manage their day-to-day financial transactions. Nights and weekends she’s ready to join in the community fun.
“It’s not just about showing up,” explains Tracy, “it’s about meeting the people in our community and letting them get to know who we are. We are a part of the community and we have fun and enjoy the day, too.”
Commitment to community
She’s proud of her family’s history of commitment to the communities they serve and to the people who live in those communities, but she’s equally proud of the bank’s employees. “No matter what Independence Bank location you go into, you’ll always receive a warm welcome,” she says. “Every employee is part of our extended family and each one is treated with the same level of respect, regardless of their title or role.”
That sense of family not only means they carefully choose their employees to provide the highest level of financial expertise and customer service, it also means they want all employees to share in the success of the bank. Through their 401(k) plan, the 400+ employees are Independence Bank’s second largest shareholder.
This approach to its employees has been recognized by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management, which
has included Independence Bank on its annual list of Best Places to Work in Kentucky ten years in a row. Those employee awards are the only ones Chris Reid has on display in his office. “We do great things for our customers, for the community and for each other,” he says. “We all make it a great place to work.”
Today, there are 25 Independence Bank locations in Kentucky, but the growth hasn’t come from acquisitions. Instead, it comes from bringing an employee-driven, community bank to other cities across the Commonwealth. As the family puts it, “We are a combination of many small community banks but, as a whole, we have the size and the experience to serve the largest and most complex clients in our markets.”
At Independence Bank, it isn’t about the biggest bank; it’s about being the best for its customers and employees. You can find out more about Independence Bank on its website, or, better yet, drop by the St. Matthews location to see how Independence Bank is leading the revolution for banking that focuses on people and communities.