On January 1, 1868, Edward M. West and his son-in-law, Civil War veteran Major William R. Prickett, opened the doors of a new bank in Edwardsville, Ill., located at the site now occupied by the Madison County Administration Building. One hundred and fifty years later, TheBANK of Edwardsville is stronger than ever and looking well into the future.
“This anniversary is not something we take for granted because it’s so rare for any business, and especially a bank,” said Grady Ambuel, Senior Vice President of Marketing at TheBANK. “It’s had the same name for much of its existence, and to this day continues to be a locally-owned community bank.”
Originally named “West and Prickett” after its founders, it would soon be renamed TheBANK of Edwardsville. It has survived through times when most other banks have failed or been absorbed by larger banks, providing generations of customers with the products and services they need, and doing so with a smile.
“TheBANK is eight years older than the telephone and 11 years older than the Edison lightbulb. It has survived economic depressions, recessions, wars, and an ever-changing banking industry. It’s been through everything and has always come through,” Ambuel said. “That’s because we’ve always put the customer first. While our array of retail, commercial, mortgage lending, wealth management and online services have grown over the years, dedication and commitment to our customers has always been our main focus.”
With 150-year-old roots in the region, a key to TheBANK’s success has been being a good corporate citizen and giving back to the communities it serves. While TheBANK continually seeks to support customers with cutting-edge banking products, it has always been community-oriented in supporting numerous charitable, civic and educational organizations throughout the Metro East and St. Louis.
“What makes us unique is that we don’t just write checks,” says Ambuel. “Our directors, officers and staff are personally involved as chairpersons, committee members and volunteers in over 400 different local charities and community organizations. In addition, we are heavily committed to education. From employees volunteering in grade school reading programs, to sponsoring financial literacy programs for teens and young adults, to funding numerous scholarships for high school, home school, college and trade school students, supporting education is a major priority for TheBANK.”
Combining its interest in operating both as a quality bank and good corporate citizen, TheBANK has also created products to assist the unserved and underserved who have not – for a variety of reasons – been a part of mainstream banking.
“To be an integral part of the solution, TheBANK offers a checking account designed to help those who need to rebuild their financial strength and improve their credit scores,” says Ambuel. “Likewise, we also have loan products with non-traditional underwriting criteria to help individuals have a path to homeownership and help stabilize communities where homeownership has been a challenge.”
As part of its continuing effort to serve the “unbanked and underbanked,” TheBANK opened the first fully bilingual, full-service banking location in the St. Louis metro area in Fairmont City in 2015, reaching out to an entire population that had little, if any, access to traditional banking products and services.
“Serving a largely Hispanic population, it’s located in the Fairmont City Library, which is the hub of the community, and has attracted customers throughout the St. Louis metro area,” says Ambuel. “It has been a tremendous success for TheBANK, and most importantly, for the people the center serves.”
Today TheBANK has 20 locations in Illinois and Missouri. The most recent is a loan production office in St. Charles, Mo., which opened in November, joining a full-service Clayton branch in St. Louis. And as TheBANK of Edwardsville commemorates its sesquicentennial, Ambuel said it will continue to examine its own history to see its future – for the benefit of its customers and communities.
“It’s been that way for generations,” he said. “We will continue to focus on our core values, continue to grow and adapt to an ever-changing world, and will remain true to our customers, our local communities and our historical roots.”