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John Tolomer interview on Westchester Talk Radio

John Marino:

Good day to you. And you are listening to Westchester Talk Radio, westchestertalkradio.com. This is the Westfair Business Spotlight series episode one, produced by Sharc Creative. Together, Westfair Communications and Sharc Creative are combining to give you a voice. I'm John Marino and thank you for joining us. We are joined by John Tolomer. And John Tolomer, as we talk banking today, is the president and CEO of The Westchester Bank headquartered in White Plains, with seven branches around the county. Those branches are in White Plains, in Yonkers, in Mamaroneck, also too in Rye Brook, in Ossining, in Thornwood and in Mount Kisco. Spread all the way around the county, top to bottom, east to west, north and south. John Tolomer, first of all, thank you for joining us here on Westchester Talk Radio. How are you?

John Tolomer:

Great. Thank you, John. Nice to be with you.

John Marino:

I know you were a busy-

John Tolomer:

I want to mention, we also have a branch in Ossining.

John Marino:

Yeah, I think I mentioned that also too, along the way. Thank you. Seven. I try to memorize them, but I said, you know what, why don't we just look at the list here.

John Tolomer:

Fair enough.

John Marino:

And work them all in. We'll do it again. White Plains, Yonkers, Mamaroneck, Rye Brook, Ossining, Thornwood, and Mount Kisco. John Tolomer, we live in some uncertain times right now. A pandemic. Now we have social unrest in our area, the tri-state area, around the country. What can you, as the man who runs The Westchester Bank, the president and CEO, say to people around Westchester, people in this tri-state area, our consumers, those who use The Westchester Bank and others, people who are really part of the system and anybody around this area. How can you provide a calming voice and attitude toward us right now? What should we know?

John Tolomer:

Well, certainly unprecedented times as we've all been hearing and saying. I'll start with pandemic and then get to the racism issue. The pandemic has really taken The Westchester Bank, "Banking Made Personal" to another level.

John Tolomer:

And in fact, we've had the opportunity to call each and every one of our customers to see how we could be in a position to help them ride through the economic uncertainty. So being able to be a community bank and call your customers was very powerful. The feedback from our customers was how important it was to know that we were calling to see how we could assist them as opposed to badger them for payments or the like. The feedback also was that customers really appreciated the fact that we took the time to call them as human beings and also to give them other solutions on how they could bank with us and not sacrifice all of what they need. So they were able to access the bank through our mobile apps, through our online banking, our ATM, et cetera. And so they've been able to continue to bank with us, and they will continue to be able to bank with us. We've remained open throughout the process. And again, we are practicing social distancing, but we are leveraging that and speaking to all of our customers to find out how we can assist them.

John Marino:

But when you do this, for example, and the mode that you've taken right now to help customers out, how does it affect the bank and the bank's bottom line? Because you're obviously allowing people to back up their payments, what they are responsible for giving back to the bank, with the bank helping them out to begin with, and yet that's got to affect your bottom line.

John Tolomer:

Well, it does have an impact. But in the long run, it will also have an impact. And I believe will be far greater, positive impact than negative impact. And frankly, this was a more complicated issue in that the regulatory authorities were permitting the banks to work closely with their customers to try and assist them. And so from that perspective, we're doing that. The guidance was very clear to help our customers. We've been able to do that. And in the long run, our relationships with our customers will far exceed any short-term hit.

John Tolomer:

Frankly, we have not really taken any financial negative impact during March or April, and certainly May the month was yesterday. So it's a little early to tell, but I suspect we'll be in very good shape.

John Marino:

[crosstalk 00:05:02] also too the pandemic, and then we move over to, as you pointed out the racial issue as well, mixed into all of this and you just see the unrest we see happening. And if I were in your position, I'd be worried by what I see because, to me, I looked at it and I say, "They're trying to break down our institutions." And one of those institutions is our banking system. Yet somebody who does this day-by-day for decades, like you, you know you can't just jump, run out of your seat, and run to the window and say, "I got to do something about that." You have to kind of have to be the calming influence and kind of settle everybody and everything down, I guess. And let us know that, "You know what, whatever happens today, happens today. There's always tomorrow."

John Tolomer:

Well, we all saw George Floyd's death and the bottom line to it is this is one in far too many incidents that have occurred over recent memory and for a long period of time. As a matter of fact, I sent a note to the staff today that we're against racism in any shape or form and what I want to be able to do personally, as well as professionally, and with our bank to fight racism. This is uncalled for. It's unacceptable. There should be ... of life. And we'll support people who are engaged in dialogue and constructive to improve the situation. But this is intolerable. Racism is intolerable at any level, and we're vehemently opposed to it. And we'll do what we can to eradicate that.

John Tolomer:

And as we look around for organizations that are going to fight racism, we're going to look to support them to the best of our ability and in many ways, whether that's financial, whether it's our employees helping them. But this is a scourge on our society. And a society is only as strong as its weakest link. And this is just beyond disgraceful. Disgusting. I don't have enough adjectives to really describe my feelings about it. But it's got to be fought and it's got to be fought now.

John Marino:

Now the bank has its slogan, "Banking Made Personal." This has been the slogan since day one. When you work with minority communities, for example, knowing that sometimes there is an income disparity, yet the bank has to be able to work with every community. When you do that with communities that might be a bit disadvantaged or with any community, you're making banking personal all the time, I would think. Adjusting that "Banking Make Personal" to that person, to that business, to that situation. Being made personal may be different for me than it maybe for somebody else or for you.

John Tolomer:

Well, we look from an underwriting standpoint of loans. What we always try to do. We always look not to say "no." We look to say "yes." And then we look to analyze under what circumstances and what terms and conditions the bank would be comfortable with, and we offer alternatives. And that doesn't mean we make every loan, because we don't. But we certainly give everybody an opportunity to access capital and on the basis of what we can do to protect our shareholders, our bank, and to assist people. So we've been very involved in the community.

John Tolomer:

We've been very philanthropic and probably more philanthropic than a bank our size since our founding in June of 2008. So coming up on our 12th birthday. We've always been philanthropic. And we've been philanthropic in terms of, certainly, writing checks and donating, but attending events, providing premiums for golf outings and for different fundraising activities, walks that a lot of the not-for-profits here in Westchester were involved in. Now, we've taken, since the pandemic, a little slight while we continue to do that, those types of activities. We have also looked and found a few GoFundMe pages that were really helping local restaurants, funding local restaurants to prepare and deliver meals for our frontline warriors. And certainly those frontline workers are real heroes and playing a small part in that is very, very important. As a matter of fact, later this week, the bank will be in their shell and providing some Dunkin' Donuts for 400 nurses. And we're real excited about that, and just a small way of giving back and saying, "thank you" in our way.

John Marino:

John Tolomer, president and CEO of The Westchester Bank with us here on Westchester Talk Radio.

John Marino:

And as you work together and work with different communities, you talked about going into New Rochelle this week to help workers there for all they've done. How has The Westchester Bank worked with small and medium-sized businesses to get through this pandemic and set them up for not only the months ahead, but maybe the years ahead right now too? And oh, by the way, congratulations on the 12th anniversary of The Westchester Bank too.

John Tolomer:

Thank you. Thank you very much, John. How we've been able to work with people ... During the pandemic, in particular, regulators have really encouraged banks, all banks to work with their customers. And as I mentioned earlier, we really picked up the phone and called every one of our customers to find out how they were doing? How their employees were doing? And how we could assist them? And that went on for a period of time. And then, as you know, the loan program called PPP loan program came about, and we facilitated enough loans to save or fund over 7,000 jobs here in our market.

John Tolomer:

And we really take great pride in being able to facilitate those loans, to keep people being paid and to help small, medium-sized businesses in our market. And it's been very fruitful and it's been very thankful. And I would tell you that many of our clients were calling and saying, "Thank you so much. I really needed this. This was the lifeblood, lifeline I needed," and it's helped their employees. And so it's very gratifying to assist small, medium-sized businesses prosper and/or in this particular circumstance, hang on until things get better, until we normalize.

John Marino:

Now, that's the "Banking Made Personal" approach or personal philosophy I can tell obviously it's a big part of what the bank does. That bank approach and your personal approach, the business approach from the bank and your personal approach seem to be linked together. It makes it easier for both ends to be able to come together and kind of meet in the middle. And it's helped set somebody up for months and years to come.

John Tolomer:

Yes, that's true. John, we have always taken the tact. We have all of the state-of-the-art technology. However, all of the banks have that. The key element is who leverages that for the benefit of our client relationships.

John Marino:

Who makes a difference? That's what it comes down to.

John Tolomer:

And we always talk about the fact that the employees we recruit are people that want to be involved with customers, that are service oriented, and want to deliver on a value proposition that a community bank can offer. And so how many banks can say that they've called every single customer to find out how we could help them-

John Marino:

You called every single customer to find out how ... If John Marino or a client of The Westchester Bank, I'd get a call from-

John Tolomer:

You would of received-

John Marino:

Got one from the bank and you'd take that time to ask, "Hey, John. How are things? What do you need? What can we do for you?"

John Tolomer:

Yes.

John Marino:

That's "Banking Made Personal." Who else does that?

John Tolomer:

Right. And that's what it's all about. And that's what makes us who we are and what we are. And our employees buy into that culture. And our customers are a great source of our marketing because they tell other friends, "Hey, this is the bank where you want to work. You want to work with this bank because they're personal." And so sometimes in just having the dialogue with our customers, we're able to formulate programs that worked for them. Whether it's cash management, whether it's deposits or time, place, convenience, or it's commercial loans, we're there for them to understand. We asked them about their business so we can understand, and we can formulate a program that will work for them and work for the bank.

John Marino:

Have you ever sat back and said to yourself, "This is a real teaching moment for me," what's gone on the last three months with the pandemic and with the social unrest right now.

John Tolomer:

Absolutely. One of the things that one has to reflect on when you're responsible for an organization. We're a small business from the standpoint of 72 employees. We leverage technology. My responsibility is to keep our staff members and our customers healthy and to devise programs. So we, as a bank, never closed. Not one day. Not one minute. We continue to operate, and we're operating at full strength. But we're operating a little differently. People are not in headquarters. They're working remotely. But we continue to be a hundred percent in operations. So the point of it is, is we have that capability. So we can leverage that technology to work remotely, but continue to talk to our customers and provide them with "Banking Made Personal" because that's what community banking is all about.

John Marino:

How about a success story or two where you know The Westchester Bank made a difference for a person, for a business, for some kind of entity where without John Tolomer, without The Westchester Bank, they'll sink or swim, they probably might have sunk. And now they swim and swim pretty well.

John Tolomer:

I think there's many. And I think I can just generically speak about, by understanding more about a customer and their ability and what they have. And sometimes the answer is "Gee, what you're asking for, we can't do." But because we understand your business, we understand your challenge, we can formulate a program that will work for you and will work for us. And that's really been the essence of community banking. It's really getting to understand the customer and how we can provide them with what they need and still protect the bank.

John Tolomer:

So it happens frequently. There are many phone calls saying, "I don't know how I would of gotten on without this loan." This was certainly true in the PPP program. It was true before that, whether it was some short-term deferrals or providing additional capital to businesses that are deemed to be essential and are continuing to operate. So it's across the board and it's really very gratifying. Not only for myself, but for our team to know that we're making a difference with our customers, that we're helping them. And-

John Marino:

Now you bring up a key point about how it's not cookie-cutter, where most people think banks are, you walk in, "I need this." It's like, "Yeah, we can give it to you. Do whatever we want for you." And you find out once you sign on the dotted line, that's not really the case. It sounds like with The Westchester Bank, if John Marino walks in, "I might need this. I might need that. I do need this," you'll say to me, "John, we can do A. We can do B. We can't do C. And that's best for both of us." And I think that's a real key to personalized banking.

John Tolomer:

Well, as he builds for long-term mutually beneficial relationships. So when we may not be able to do exactly what the customer requests, but we're able to explain here's where we're having difficulty approving what you're asking for, we then collectively, with the customer, talk about how we can compromise and make a proposition or a loan program that works for them and for us. What happens is both the customer and the bank are vested in that relationship, in the trust, and in the integrity of working with each other. And that makes for the underpinning a long-term mutually beneficial relationships. And frankly, that's what we attempt to do.

John Tolomer:

We're not interested in just doing a loan and see you, goodbye. We want to work with our customers. We want to grow with our customers. 12 years ago, when we started, our lending limit was very limited. It was 1,000,006. And now it's over $20 million. So we have the capability to do more and more for our customers. But many of those customers that worked with us in 2008 and 2009 ... And if you remember, that was a very, very difficult circumstance because it was the meltdown. And so we were able to ... It was the whole residential mortgage meltdown. And so we started in June of '08 and I came along in November of '08. And so we worked through a very, very trying ... probably before the pandemic, the second worst economic circumstance since the Great Depression.

John Marino:

You had experience at this before, a decade ago. Yeah. Tell me, from day one, 2008, 2009, you begin during, as you termed, in what was a meltdown back then, how was The Westchester Bank able to kick off and get going at that time when everybody else was doing something totally different because they had no other choice?

John Tolomer:

Well, what's interesting John, because there was one little bit ... It didn't feel like it at the time, but we had one advantage. We didn't have very many loans. So we were not internally focused on our existing portfolio. We were externally focused. And so we had the ability to talk to small, medium-sized businesses with a clean record and the ability to work close to with those companies, those individuals. And so that was an important element. Now we also, because of technology could offer all the products and services that the largest financial institutions in the world offer.

John Marino:

All the bells and whistles?

John Tolomer:

Correct. So now think about this. Here we are in June ... Let's just say November of '08. Okay. So the meltdown has kind of taken place. All our competitors were kind of internally focused about what they were going to do with their loans. We were able to be externally focused to bring customers in now. While we were in two double-wide trailers on Central Avenue, we had the ability, because of technology, that people could scan their deposits to the bank. They could use online banking. They could have free online bill pay.

John Tolomer:

And so they had all of those products and services to be able to access their bank. So it was an educational factor. So somebody who was, say a business in White Plains, because we're at that point in Yonkers or say, Mahopac, how do I bank with you? Well, you're going to scan your deposits to the bank. Your ACH will come directly to our bank. We had a full suite of product. So it was a matter of educating our customers and being able to look past, "Oh, you only have one single location. How do I bank with you?" And that started the bank. And that built strong relationships.

John Tolomer:

And I'm proud to say that those customers are still with us and they're with us because our people, our team members, our staff members are talking to them on an ongoing basis. Not just pandemic related, but before that, to continue to ask our customers, "How can we be of assistance to you?" And that's a key differentiator.

John Marino:

What percentage of current customers today, midway through 2020, have been with the bank since day one back in '08?

John Tolomer:

Yeah. I don't have a specific percentage. That wouldn't be so.

John Marino:

An estimation?

John Tolomer:

It's a very high percentage. I would say it a little differently. The people that started with us in '08, '09, and '10 are still with us.

John Marino:

And that's what you want. That's how you grow. Yep. That's the way to do it. You are listening to Westchester Talk Radio, westchestertalkradio.com. And this is the Westchester Business Spotlight series, the Westfair Business Spotlight series here in Westchester on Westchester Talk Radio episode one produced by Sharc, Creative. Together, Westfair Communications and Sharc Creative are combining to give you a voice. We are joined by John Tolomer, president and CEO of The Westchester Bank, with seven locations around the county in White Plains, in Yonkers, in Mamaroneck, Rye Brook, Ossining, also in Thornwood, and in Mount Kisco.

John Marino:

Now John Tolomer I know you're a busy guy. We could stay in here all day and talk about this. The accolades you've received, personally, the accolades The Westchester Bank has received over the course of the last 12 years. Tell us what has made you and what has made the bank most proud if you had to select an award or two, a theme, a moment or two. What really sticks out and stands out to you as, "You know what, great. We did it."

John Tolomer:

Best bank to work for. Three consecutive years in New York State in the top tier of that. Actual, there's 75 that win it, but we were, I forgot the exact number. I think the last time it was seven or eight. And we're really excited about that. And I'll tell you why we're excited about it. The way that gets measured is employees are surveyed anonymously. Now, the reason we started doing this was really to not to win an award, but to gather information, to understand what is it that our employees feel they need or want, what works, what doesn't work.

John Tolomer:

And for three consecutive years, we've placed in the award winning, in the top tier, but it's been instructive. And one reason was, I'll give you an example. The first year we did it, it came to light that we had employees that wanted tuition reimbursement. And so, as a result of that feedback, we implemented the tuition reimbursement program for our employees. So it's great to win an award and I won't give it back. Unfortunately, this year we're not going to participate because it's in the middle of the pandemic. And I think that's just not the time to be asking people, "How do you feel about your work?"

John Tolomer:

The good news from our perspective is no one's been laid off. No one will be laid off. We're continuing to operate at a hundred percent efficiency. So that award, when your employees tell you, "This is a great place to work," that has to hit home. And we continue to look for ways to make it a great place to work. And so that they bring their friends and real professionals as new employees that will buy into our culture.

John Marino:

How can you get through this pandemic without any kind of cutbacks or layoffs, like you just mentioned? That seems impossible, and yet you've been able to get that done.

John Tolomer:

We will not be laying anybody off. We won't even think about it.

John Marino:

No furloughs?

John Tolomer:

No furloughs. Not a day. Nope. Not at all.

John Marino:

No "we need your assistance, your help. I got to cut you 15% and I'll give it back to you down the road"?

John Tolomer:

There won't be any cuts. Everybody is working today. They're working at the salary they had back in February, before this pandemic.

John Marino:

And they can work from home too, right?

John Tolomer:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

John Marino:

Wow! What a deal.

John Tolomer:

Yeah. Not bad, right?

John Marino:

You can't beat that. [crosstalk 00:25:59] All these accolades that you have and that the bank has gotten in the last 12 years or so, how does this hook into and connect with your personal and the bank's "Banking Made Personal" philosophy the way you do business?

John Tolomer:

Well, I know I look like I'm 28. I've been at this awhile. And one of the things I was able to do. I've worked for larger institutions and I learned what works and I learned what doesn't work. And so what I brought to bear with the bank 12 years ago, when I joined, was let's emphasize the things that work and let's eliminate the things that don't work.

John Tolomer:

And the number one thing that I've learned over the years is customers do not know how to interpret silence. So we need to talk to them, right? What happens? When does a customer call the bank? Generally, when they need something. If we don't respond, what does one think? "Oh, they're not interested. They don't want to help me." Even if we don't have an answer, we need to pick up a phone and call the customer and say, "I'm still researching your question. I will be back to you." It's key. It's so important to be able to communicate with our customers.

John Tolomer:

Think about your everyday life. No matter where you go, would you prefer a personalized experience or not? Now some people just want to be on computers and phones, and they don't really want to deal with anybody. But I think that's a smaller percentage, even now with young people coming along. People still want to have guidance. They want to have relationships. They want to talk to people. And that's what we offer. And so we offer solutions because in the end, when you have a relationship, you can continue to talk and find out how can we work effectively together? How can we build a mutually beneficial relationship? And that's what "Banking Made Personal" is about. And it's the way I've looked at things over the years.

John Tolomer:

And fortunately our customers have been very, very receptive. They've been terrifically loyal to our bank, and we've been terrifically loyal to them. And so it's a ying and a yang. We're there for each other. And so in times like this, we can continue to have our employees work and earn their salaries and not worry about their job security and just be able to focus on the job at hand.

John Marino:

John Tolomer, president and CEO of The Westchester Bank, seven locations across the County of Westchester. Now you brought up already, you've touched upon this. Best bank to work for in New York State and in the nation. A best bank to work for in the state and in the nation. Also top community bank lender in the nation too. Let's go back with that. Top community bank lender in the nation. You're in that group there. And if that doesn't say what you need to know about The Westchester Bank, along with those other accolades, I don't know what does.

John Tolomer:

Well, I think the key thing is to understand that the bank doesn't make any money if we have an approval, but we don't close a loan. We only begin to make money when we close a loan. So if we've been very careful in our underwriting process and we feel very comfortable with the loan we're about to make, we try to get those loans closed as quickly as possible. And we say, internally all the time, "Today is better than tomorrow. Tomorrow is better than the next day." So we want to be able to find the right people, with the right level of risk and be able to make those loans and to be able to close them as quickly as possible and to build, not just one time alone, but continue to build a relationship. And that's why we have a full suite of product, both for consumers, as well as for businesses and not-for-profits.

John Tolomer:

And that's another area a lot of companies don't really know how to ... banks don't really know how to deal with not-for-profits. And they're different than small business. But there are some similarities, but they're not the same. And so we constructed a not-for-profit model where the not-for-profit can leverage its bank relationship. They don't pay hard dollar fees to maintain their accounts. We work closely with them. In many cases, we've been able to be philanthropic and we've supported their initiatives. So it's always a program of ... It's always an ability to try to work together, find common ground, build a long-term mutually beneficial relationship.

John Marino:

A BauerFinancial five-star rating, 30 consecutive quarters. Now that's close to a decade. Almost as long as The Westchester Bank has been around. You've been doing this, like we've said, from day one. How do you do that? And how do you pull off something like that?

John Tolomer:

Well, that really speaks to the financial stability of our bank and being at that level of Bauer five-star is really important. There's no higher distinction. We do that through profitability. And we've done it through the fact that we've been able to grow with our customers here. And we've been able to retain our earnings and continue to build our business. And so a high-performing bank is not just the financial results. It's also how you attack your day-to-day activities and responsibilities, whether that's in the accounting area or whether it's in the back office in deposit operations. We have to continue to be there, to work together for the benefit of our customers. And when we do that, we continue to increase our business, which increases our profitability, which makes us a much stronger bank. And that's how we've been able to do it.

John Marino:

I've seen a couple of your recent TV ads, starring John Tolomer, of course, The Westchester Bank. The impression I get from them, the message I get is, "Stay safe. We can always do business."

John Tolomer:

Yes, we were in this together and we're going to be able to do ... We're doing business now. We're doing it a little differently, but we'll continue to be there for our customers. We never closed during the pandemic. We're not going to close. We consider banking is considered an essential service. We never closed and we won't close. We're going to continue to be there for our customers. We're going to continue to find ways to assist them and long-term, grow together and continue to be prosperous.

John Marino:

Now we are into a partial reopening step-by-step in Westchester, around the tri-state area, and across New York State. Can we reopen quickly, do you think? Or do we need to do this step-by-step?

John Tolomer:

I looked in this morning's paper and there's 100,004 people that have passed from coronavirus. And I think as much as we all have a desire to get back to work and "get things back to normal," I think we have to take a very measured approach to that. And we're going to continue to operate the way we are. Our customers, they don't care if I'm sitting at my home or I'm in my office, as long as we continue to serve them. And that's been the case with our bank and we're going to continue to do that. We've got to be smart.

John Tolomer:

And when you look across the board, I think we're going to see more and more masks, and we're going to see more social distancing. And I think it's appropriate. I think you can't fool with this. There's 100,004 people have died from this since March 1st. So that's incredibly high numbers and it's a terrible thing. So I think we have to take a measured approach and we will eventually, hopefully we'll have a vaccine. But through social distancing, in house, in home, I think will help and will continue to get us back to a more normal life over time.

John Marino:

Is there a fear factor with the markets, in your opinion? Where to me markets react too much to what's going on. If I were sitting at a desk on Wall Street, maybe this is overreaching a bit, I'd say, "Gee, what can I do to try to set the pace, to make the flow instead of going with the flow and try to take something in a positive direction." Markets get news that they don't think is good, they move in a different direction. The fear factor, how much does that play into this, as we try to get back to normal and try to reopen? Like you say, some want us to do this all in one day, and it looks like we can't. Yet the markets still have to help us do this.

John Tolomer:

Sure. Well, I think you have to separate the stock market from the economy. The stock market, to me, is more about liquidity, investments, 401(k)s, all of that money. And yes, they react day-to-day. You can see when Moderna thought that they had a vaccine and it was very encouraging, the market rocketed. I think the stock market is beginning to look at there will be a return. It might be a little slower and more thoughtful than originally contemplated. And so you're beginning to see different segments. Like now the banking segment that is beginning to come back in different segments will come back in the stock market.

John Tolomer:

In terms of the economy, I think the economy, again, gets to, "Can we go get a haircut? Can we go to a restaurant? And if we can, under what circumstances are we comfortable to do that?" So that's going to take a little bit more time. I know that some of the major CEOs of major banks have indicated they see a third quarter returned to improvement, and I think that's a safer bet than not. But I think it's going to be a slow go. We still have 30 million Americans out of work. And so some will go back and hopefully more and more will go back sooner rather than later. But that's a more complicated issue.

John Marino:

John Tolomer, president and CEO of The Westchester Bank. John, what advice can you give up-and-comers in the banking business? How can they get to being the next John Tolomer? Or at least a reasonable facsimile there of?

John Tolomer:

Well, I've read a few books about Thomas Jefferson and what an incredible mind. And one of the things he was asked was, was he a great believer in luck. And he said, "I'm a great believer in luck. And I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." Today, that's said, "It's the harder I work, the luckier I get." So I always tell people, don't be afraid to outwork next guy. God gave you two ears and one mouth, listen more than you talk. And if you do those things ... And look, be personable and be able to work with other people. And if you can listen and learn and you can work hard and you can be somebody that's dependable and can work well with others, you're ahead of 95% of the people. And so it's really a matter of continuing to work like that. And I think those are some key traits that will always help somebody and will always build.

John Marino:

Listen more than you talk. I could never get to be the next John Tolomer.

John Tolomer:

My father told me, and my mother used to tell me the same. So I learned.

John Marino:

Yep. Man, I still hear it to this day as well. So John Tolomer, it's been a great pleasure to talk to you.

John Marino:

John Tolomer, president, CEO of The Westchester Bank. Seven branch locations, around the county, White Plains, Yonkers, Mamaroneck, Rye Brook, Ossining, Thornwood, and in Mount Kisco. John, let's do this again. Hopefully as the economy starts to improve and our society as a whole starts to get better and let's see where we are next time you call.

John Tolomer:

Thanks, John. I appreciate it very much.

COVID-19 Spot #1

The impact of the Coronavirus has really taken the Westchester Bank's slogan and way of life of banking made personal to another level

We've spoken to every single one of our customers to see how we could help them. That's what community banking is all about.

We're also going to continue to provide you with all of the tools to have your banking experience continue to be community banking at its best.

So let’s be smart, let’s be safe and please stay healthy.

COVID-19 Spot #2

The impact of the Coronavirus has really amplified the importance of a community bank.

The Westchester Bank facilitated loans through the Payroll Protection Program to save 7000 jobs.

We’ve taken a new turn, that is to make donations to Go-Fund-Me pages which enables local restaurants to prepare and deliver meals to our front line heroes.

We know that together, we’re going to get through this and be stronger than ever before.

The Westchester Bank: Banking Made Personal

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 success.

“Our customers, whether they’re a small or medium-sized business, a not-for-profit or a consumer, know we’re always here for them,” Tolomer says. “Customers really value our commitment to them.”

With assets exceeding $1 billion, The Westchester Bank has seven full-service branches throughout Westchester County and offers the same products and services and 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.

Employing over 70 people today, Tolomer says The Westchester Bank works hard to find talented employees who are fully committed to “Banking Made Personal”.  Its success in hiring the right people is reflected in its low employee turnover and has earned the bank “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.

Tolomer concludes, “As long as we continue to stay focused on ‘Banking Made Personal,’ and 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.”

To learn how The Westchester Bank can help you achieve your money management and personal finance goals, call 914.368.9919 or visit online at TheWestchesterBank.com.

Member FDIC/Equal Housing Lender 

The Westchester Bank Fall 2019 Commercial

John Tolomer, President and CEO of The Westchester Bank discusses The Westchester Bank’s guiding principles.

John Tolomer: Here at the Westchester Bank we sit with our customers, we understand what their business objectives are, and we know that we can tailor the program that works best for them. We also created our own not for profit model to help people who are helping others in our community. Its quite gratifying both from professional and personal standpoint to see how we in our small way assist our customers in realizing their potential. Their successes is our success. Westchester Bank, its banking made personal, it’s how we do business.

The Westchester Bank – featuring Lifting Up Westchester

Anahaita Kotval, Executive Director of Lifting Up Westchester, discusses why they bank with The Westchester Bank

Anahaita Kotval: Lifting Up Westchester we provide emergency services for people who don’t have a place to stay or enough food to eat. We try to stabilize their housing and work with them on vocational employment training. Everything we do is centered on what they need to be successful and we like that our banking partners at Westchester Bank have the same attitude.

John Tolomer: The Westchester Bank created it’s own not for profit model to help people who are helping others in our community.

Anahaita Kotval: It’s very simple and easy to work with them.

John Tolomer: The Westchester bank, its banking made personal, it's how we do business.

The Westchester Bank – featuring Crabtree Kittle House

John Crabtree, Proprietor of Crabtree Kittle House Inn, discusses why they bank with The Westchester Bank

John Crabtree: We’ve been here for 38 years and here at the Kittle House at one point or another every member of the community has passes through our doors. We wanted to refinance the whole building. we chose the Westchester bank because of the people, they are responsive, they are professional they are there for us and they are committed to excellence. 

John Tolomer: Here at the Westchester Bank we sit with our customers, we understand what their business objectives are, and we know that we can construct a program that works best for them. Their successes is our success, its banking made personal, its house we do business.

The Westchester Bank - featuring Beecher Flooks Funeral Home

Bill Flooks, Sr., Proprietor of Beecher Flooks Funeral Home, discusses why they bank with The Westchester Bank

Bill Flooks: Here at Beecher Flooks funeral home, what I love most about my job is being able to help people at a very difficult time in their lives. Our banking relationship with the Westchester Bank is very personal. Last year we started a renovation here and we went to the bank and they were able to help us. 

John Tolomer: The essence of community banking is to understand your customer, to be able to assist them to achieve their business objects cause in the end their successes is our success. The Westchester bank, its banking made personal, its how we do business.

The Westchester Bank - featuring Le Jardin Du Roi

The Westchester Bank - Le Jardin Du Roi video

Joe Quartararo, Proprietor of Le Jardin du Roi, discusses why they bank with The Westchester Bank

Joe Quartararo: What I’m most proud of at Le Jardin du Roi is how we make people feel like they’re part of our family. We want our customers to come feel like its an extension of their home.

John Tolomer: At the Westchester bank it’s quite gratifying both from professional and personal standpoint to see how we in our small way assist our customers in realizing their potential

Joe Quartararo: When I call the Westchester Bank I know I’m always going to get a live person, not a recording.

John Tolomer: The Westchester bank, its banking made personal, its how we do business.

The Westchester Bank - featuring Hope’s Door

The Westchester Bank - Hope's Door video

CarlLa Horton, Executive Director of Hope's Door, discusses why they bank with The Westchester Bank

CarlLa Horton: The mission of Hope's Door is to end domestic violence and to empower survivors to achieve safety, Independence and healing from the trauma of abuse. We chose The Westchester Bank because they take their role as a supporter of their community very seriously and we're thrilled to partner with them.

John Tolomer, President and CEO of The Westchester Bank, discusses The Westchester Bank's philosophy

John Tolomer: The Westchester Bank is a caring partner. We think it's not only good business, but it’s good for the soul to be involved in the community in which we serve Experience community banking at its best. It’s banking made personal, it’s how we do business.