It starts from the top down. For President and CEO John Tolomer and everyone else at The Westchester Bank, “Banking Made Personal” is more than a catchy tagline. It’s a way of life, a guiding principle, and the secret to the bank’s stellar growth and success.
“Our customers, whether they’re a small or medium-sized business, a not-forprofit or a consumer, know we’re always here for them,” Tolomer says. “Customers really value our commitment to them.”
Founded in 2008, just months before the financial meltdown, TWB has grown from $39 million to over $1 billion in total assets as of January 2020. It has seven full-service branches throughout Westchester County.
How did the fledgling community bank manage to survive – and grow – during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? How has it continued to thrive in today’s highly competitive banking environment? Ultimately, says Tolomer, it all comes down to exceptional, responsive service. Customers also appreciate the bank’s efficient local decision making and commitment to transparency.
“There have been many times when someone needed help from a bank and we were able to step in quickly, in a highly personalized manner, to help them get the services or the capital they needed,” Tolomer says. “As a community bank, we’re built to be nimble. Plus, because we’re in the market, we understand the market. And we’re able to leverage that understanding to help people achieve or exceed their financial goals.”
TWB offers the same products and services, the same state-of-the-art banking technologies, from scanners to online banking to a mobile app, as the largest national banks. Customers also have access to a full array of cash management services.
Tolomer says TWB works hard to find talented employees who are fully committed to “Banking Made Personal.” Indeed, its success in hiring the right people is reflected in its low employee turnover. What’s more, TWB has been recognized as a Best Company to Work for in New York State for three consecutive years and a Best Bank to Work for in the U.S. for two years in a row. “We’re very proud of these distinctions,” he says.
Starting with just eight employees in 2008, TWB employs over 70 people today.
Community service aimed at enhancing the quality of life in its metropolitan Westchester market has always been a cornerstone of TWB’s mission. “From the start, we’ve strived to be the quintessential community bank, part of the fabric of our market,” Tolomer says. The bank and its people give back in myriad ways, donating their time and their dollars to causes as varied as cancer support to affordable housing to helping the homeless, the disabled and the hungry.
“We believe the only time one person should be standing over another is to help lift them up,” Tolomer says.
TWB has seen a lot of changes, and weathered some tough challenges, over the past 11+ years.
“Besides surviving the financial meltdown, we’ve dealt with inverted yield curves and competition from the largest financial institutions in the world,” Tolomer says. “Yet not only are we still standing, we’re thriving.” The bank expanded its footprint to Ossining last fall, and Tolomer doesn’t rule out opening a branch beyond Westchester’s borders at some point.
“As long as we continue to stay focused on ‘Banking Made Personal,’ as long as we continue doing everything we can to ensure customers have the best possible banking experience, I believe the future is very bright for The Westchester Bank.”
“We chose The Westchester Bank for our refinancing needs because of the people. They’re responsive, professional and committed to excellence.”
—John Crabtree, Proprietor, Crabtree’s Kittle House