GRAND RAPIDS — It’s no longer just the insurance guy that may be calling when the bell rings at the reception desk.
It might be your local banker.
Irwin-Union Bank makes its niche in the area of business banking with three unique offerings.
The bank, based out of Columbus, Ind., enters a market with only one branch office. Then, rather than build more offices in the community, it resorts to other methods to make banking accessible to its business clients. It focuses on its business banking, private banking, small- to medium-size business and commercial real estate customers while offering three services to make banking more user-friendly.
“In order to make our customers feel as though we have a bank branch on every corner, we offer three unique services for our clients,” said Steve Adams, president of Irwin Union bank in Grand Rapids.
“We offer rebates for ATM fees, a courier service and a state-of-the-art Web site.”
He said the bank sets the bar lower than other banks and tends to focus on smaller businesses and up-and-coming professionals.
“We are offering these options and therefore attracting the young professionals who are busy with their business and don’t always have the time to come all the way out to Grandville,” Adams said. “This makes it so they never have to come to the bank.”
It is because Irwin Union operates only one office in each market that Adams offers his clients ATM rebates. “This way our clients can use any ATM in the city,” he said.
“For example if a customer goes to a Fifth Third or a Huntington (ATM), they might be charged a $2 fee. We will rebate those fees up to $15 a month.”
He explained this service actually saves the bank money. It obviates the cost of constructing a network of ATMs, and then having to service the machines daily and maintain them as well.
Secondly, the courier service offered by the bank ends a business manager’s daily chore of taking deposits to the bank.
“We will send out courier service around to your business to pick up the deposits for the day,” explained Adams. “It really reduces risk for the customer.”
Adam told the Business Journal that Irwin Union got the idea from a bank in Toledo that filled a large number of its deposits with a courier service. He said Irwin Union also opens its courier service to employees of a client business who wish to make deposits in their personal Irwin Union accounts.
Adams said the bank is a full-service commercial bank, also offering services to a retail market —though that is not its main focus.
The Web site is designed as a third device to help customers do their business banking from their own office, or even from home. The Web site is a proprietary Irwin Union development.
Both the Web site and ATM rebates are offered to all bank customers, but the courier service only stops at businesses.
While still new to the area — the local branch opened in October 1999 — Adams said Irwin Union operates under the philosophy of local knows best.
“We tend to target markets where there has been significant merger activity,” he said.
“We then go in and hire only experienced local bankers.” Adams said.
“We make all decisions locally and we think we benefit from the experience of the local bankers who know the market.”
In each market the bank also tries to support local need with its charitable giving. “We encourage our employees to become involved in the community they live, work and serve in,” said Adams.
“Right now our national target is to assist with funding and services for at-risk and affordable housing.”