BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
BURLINGTON – Carrying the iconic orange, green, and gold colors now synonymous with Connection Bank and Insurance, a new ultra, state-of-the-art banking location is now open in Burlington.
The new building has quickly become the architectural centerpiece of the new development zone on the east side of Roosevelt Avenue at the corner of Market Street, and features full-service banking and insurance services.
Brock Ita, a Danville native, will serve as the Market President of the new location. Michelle Fickel, a 15-year veteran with Connection Bank, formerly Fort Madison Bank & Trust, will serve as the Branch Manager.
Customers will enter the bank on the north side parking lot and walk into a spacious welcome area complete with a fireplace and a fabricated circular LED light resembling the linked circle logo of Connection. Glass offices encircle the large waiting area with a very large conference room on the south side. A double lane drive thru with separate ATM lane is on the building’s east side.
Inside, typical teller counters are replaced with smaller pods that feature cash recyclers to speed up transaction times, while increasing security for customers and staff.
Matt Morris, President and CEO of Connection Bank & Insurance, said it was important for the building to be open and inviting.
“We wanted something with an open floor plan,” he said. We wanted the customer service reps to be able to move freely around and greet customers,” he said. “You’ll notice it isn’t a traditional bank teller line. We went with pods and cash recyclers. There are no more cash drawers. These are mini vaults that save the customer service reps a ton of time because they’re not counting and recounting cash all the time. It’s also extremely secure.”
Morris said counterfeit bills are automatically rejected and reconciling drawers at the end of the day is a thing of the past as the new recyclers are connected to the bank’s main computer system which will enable a quick batching for the station at the end of the night.
“Though you may find recyclers in other banks, you just don’t see the teller pod feature. It’s a fairly new concept and we wanted to incorporate it for it two reasons, first to show our commitment to technology and to increase security,” he said.
Construction on the bank started in January, when Morris said the bank’s main vault, which had been built off-site, was set and the building was literally built around the vault.
The bank has several digital screens for branding and marketing, including a large screen monitor above a fireplace that customers will see when entering the building. Several cozy chairs and tables are set in front of the fireplace to create a non-traditional feel. To the left upon entry, customers will also have access to a technology counter with tablets where customers can experience some of the bank’s electronic services including online banking and the Connection Bank App.
“We’re trying to create a new banking experience,” Morris said. “We think of ourselves as being “unbanky” and the new building reflects our open and approachable philosophy, while still being a profitable and safe institution. This is our flagship facility for the Connection brand and we’re going to incorporate these new concepts here in Burlington and then bring them into our other locations.”
The facility will feature 11 bank and insurance staff members, initially with most of the staff coming from the Hy-Vee location that closed at noon on Friday.
Morris said the bank’s lease was up at Hy-Vee and the decision was made to go ahead and build new.
“Hy-Vee was a really great space for us, but people are banking differently now and with the lease expiring, we decided to go ahead and build.”
He said Connection is really in tune with the southeast Iowa market and has seen substantial growth since acquiring KSB (Keokuk Savings Bank and Insurance), merging the groups together and rebranding in 2016. This also greatly increased their presence along the Mississippi River in Lee County. They also have banks in Fort Madison and Montrose.
“We used to think the bigger metro cities would be a great place to be,” he said, “The problem with that is if you don’t understand the market you can get into real trouble. We love our river towns and their marketplaces. We have an intimate understanding of how the economics of our area work, which allows us to assist in the success of our customers.”
He said the announcement at the end of 2017 about the new facility has generated many calls from customers and potential customers.
“There’s been a lot of public interest since then; we’re fielding a lot of questions from potential customers wanting to know a little more about us and what we have to offer,” Morris said. “Burlington is a great market and we’ve had tremendous growth in the past two years since our merger and rebranding. I credit the growth to our staff that knows how to make things happen for our customers and also to our branding. We’re very excited about opening the front doors and continuing our growth and success.”