The last straw came on a day when Huber Décor realized its 20-year relationship with a large bank needed to end. Despite repeated phone calls and years of loyalty from Huber Decor, the bank never bothered to pick up the phone, listen to the owners’ needs and create a simple solution.
“We reached out several times and even called the bank president and left a message,” says Susan Zehnder, partner and development officer at Huber. “We never got a call back.”
At that point, Zehnder and her partner, President and CEO Nancy Rankin, realized it was time to get out of a bad relationship.
The owners moved all of their business banking to Citizens Union Bank five years ago, and since then Rankin and Zehnder feel like they’re really being heard.
“CUB responds within two minutes,” Rankin says. “They are super responsive and on it! They make things very simple. I can almost guarantee you that (CUB CEO) David Bowling would pick up the phone if I called him.”
Rankin bought Huber Décor from its founder in 1995 with partners. Zehnder joined Huber from KFC 16 years ago and five years ago became Rankin’s sole partner.
The savvy and strong women oversee a total of six companies together, providing architectural plans and interior design, full-service event planning, flowers, artwork, large-scale graphics and accent furniture to restaurants, hotels, and hospitals. Their heavy-hitter portfolio of clients includes long-term relationships with Texas Roadhouse, O’Charley’s, Longhorn Steakhouse, La Madeline, Norton Healthcare, and National Pizza Company, which is the largest franchisee of Pizza Hut and Wendy’s with 1,400 restaurants nationwide. They are also the décor provider for Hilton Hotels/Hilton Garden Inn; they have 75 Hilton projects slated for 2017.
You’d think that would be worth a call back.
Ironically, as Rankin’s and Zehnder’s companies grow and expand, they find that a smaller bank takes them seriously, is more attentive, and creates unique banking packages that include credit card processing, a large line of credit, business banking accounts and other financial vehicles.
“Part of a great relationship is being heard,” says Debbie Prewitt, Louisville Market President. “When people feel like they’re not being listened to, then they become dissatisfied in life and in business. We give people time to talk. Large banks focus on credit score and collateral and try to rush you on through. That’s just confirmation that you don’t matter. Community banks are different.”
Going local with small businesses and community banks creates authentic interactions and personal relationships.
Rankin and Zehnder complement each other like hand and glove, finishing each other’s sentences and collaborating efficiently. They know each other so well and for so long that their husbands like each other, their kids get along, and the families vacation together. The family cat, Simon, even works at the companies and has a profile on the website, serving as “exterminator/sleep specialist.” The women are accustomed to solutions taking minutes, not months.
“Susan and I both have a very creative side and we also have a big sales and customer service background,” Zehnder says. “We’ve been together for 16 years and we’ve only had one fight, and it was about where to hang a plant in a booth.”
Altogether, Rankin and Zehnder own Huber Décor, idea source, Essential Details, Blooms, Pew People and Huber Décor Properties, which is the holding company for their real estate and additional assets. They have grown significantly through increased sales and acquisitions. Their companies combine seasoned industry veterans with fresh young talent and creative thinkers with detail-oriented project managers. They serve commercial, retail, and equine clients with equal aplomb. They are large enough to know how to deliver what it takes to elevate a restaurant brand to new heights, yet small enough to provide real personal interest.
CUB’s CEO David Bowling added “One of the most rewarding things for us as bankers is to see our customers do well. Certainly Susan and Nancy have worked hard to build Huber Décor into a strong business. And, I guarantee you if Nancy called me I would answer the phone.”
“We are really flexible in meeting our clients’ needs,” says Rankin, whose companies can advise on smaller issues like color trends and lighting or manage enormous, multi-state turn-key projects for clients. “I think that makes us unique. We have vast product offerings.”
Finishing Rankin’s thoughts, Zehnder adds, “We’ve worked with a lot of clients on rebranding and when we work with a client, we are always cost conscious.”
Rankin and Zehnder, whose businesses carry Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certification, say they also like CUB because they get to interact with women decision makers.
“We like doing business with women,” says Rankin. “Women just process things different. Debbie, Kim, Genny – they’re all amazing. We have been more than pleased with CUB. They are fantastic!”