A Singular Success
By Larry Collins
Everett Co-operative Bank is an institution that can indisputably lay claim to the moniker “Community Bank.” What else are you going to label a bank that since the late 19th Century has done business from one location, spurning not only branch offices but ATM networks as well. One office at 419 Broadway, one ATM at the Broadway office, and that’s it.
“We plan to stay independent,” says Elizabeth P. Jones, Everett Co-operative’s president and CEO. “And we’ll look at branch opportunities as they present themselves.”
None are being considered presently, and “Liz” Jones, as everyone calls her, is frankly not particularly eager to follow the brick and mortar road.
“Right now we’re still growing, we’re making money, we’re considered the community bank of Everett, and we want to stay that way. There’s no reason to go building branches for the sake of building branches,” she declares.
Tucked amid the Mystic River’s forest of oil and gas refinery tanks, once heavily industrialized Everett over the years has seen much of its employment base shrink as major companies within city limits and in surrounding communities shut down or moved facilities elsewhere. The city’s population has increased slightly over the past decade from about 35,000 to 38,000, much of the growth fueled by a steady influx of Brazilian, Asian and Latino immigrants.
Responding to the community’s rapidly changing demographics, Everett Co-operative Bank employs tellers and other staff who speak several languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Creole, Chinese and Vietnamese. The bank’s ATM offers Spanish and Portuguese languages.
The institution’s popular online banking site has enjoyed exceptional growth since it was launched recently. With some 6,000 checking account customers, the bank boasts an impressive 800 of them as online customers.
“And we only started online banking a year ago,” Jones points out.
Everett Co-operative currently logs deposits of more than $188 million and a loan portfolio of over $150 million, chiefly residential mortgages ($100 million) with some small business lending, mostly in commercial real estate, and around $20 million in home equity loans.
Like any local bank, Everett Co-operative participates in a broad range of community activities, in particular, bringing its influence to bear on myriad business associations within Everett.
Jones emphasizes the leadership role the bank plays in these organizations: “We’re a very strong leader in the Everett Chamber of Commerce, we take a lead role in the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis Club, with the Lions Club, with the Everett Business Education Co-operative, Community Family; those are just Everett associations where we really step up to the plate and we do our part to participate in this community. We sit on the boards, we participate. It’s not just becoming a member and paying your dues.”
While building close relationships with the local business community, bank managers and staff are also expected to take the same care in nurturing their relations with each and every customer, according to Jones.
“As the CEO of the bank, I see customers every day of my life here, just as I want the whole management team and staff to do. Our success is to work off of each other. We’re a one-branch operation, we’re one bank. Everybody knows what everybody else is doing in this bank. If a customer wanted to see me, or if they wanted to see the senior loan officer, or the senior person in retail operations, they can see any one of us every day. My door is always open to customers, I wait on customers every day … We have nine officers here and every one of us sees customers every day.”
While Jones for the past five-and-a-half years has headed a bank with no branch offices and just a single ATM, ironically her banking career took off at one of New England’s most successful progenitors of bank branches and electronic banking, namely BayBanks, where she rose to be executive vice president. Among her mentors at BayBanks was Giles Mosher, president, and senior executive Carmin J. Mercadante, who now serves on the Everett Co-operative board.
One of nearly 20 female bank chief executive officers in Massachusetts, Jones is quick to credit her success at Everett Co-operative Bank to Mercandante and the strong support of the rest of the bank’s board. In addition, she has high praise for her management team, in particular senior vice presidents Marjorie A. White and Joseph Keohane.
It was only in 1870 that the municipality of Everett adopted its current name, in honor of prominent Bay State governor, statesman, abolitionist and orator Edward Everett. Everett was the other speaker at Gettysburg in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal address in about two minutes. Everett spoke for two hours.
One score and seven years later, Everett Co-operative Bank was born.