INB More Than a Building; A Part of Champaign Community

5/24/2018

By: Sarah Phalen

INB President and CEO

INB Champaign branchThe space is unique, but the commitment is the same: To provide commercial banking and treasury services to businesses and municipalities – this time, in Champaign-Urbana. And to fully do that, INB needed a full-service branch.

Why? Businesses needed a place to put their money. While INB has had a loan production office in Champaign since 2016, businesses couldn’t make deposits, and that’s a problem, especially if your business operates using cash.

Now, C-U businesses can make routine deposits at INB’s newest location, 217 S. Neil.

INB has had a foothold in C-U since opening in Springfield almost 20 years ago. We’ve had shareholders in Champaign from the beginning, had commercial business there, too, and have always intended to have a physical presence. We made a purposeful decision not to move too quickly, and the 2008 recession hit brought our plans of opening an office to a standstill. But we continued to provide commercial services from our Springfield headquarters.

Mortgage Business Next Step

Then in 2015, we began looking for someone who could take the lead on the mortgage loan side of our business. A good base of mortgage business would give us a good stronghold in the community and helps assure success once we opened a branch.

In 2016, in stepped Mortgage Loan Officer Justin Gensler. As Justin explains, he was very successful before coming to INB, but INB offered him the ability to really grow his business. “INB is structured for high volume, and I was interested in growing my business.” So Justin took the leap, even though he had to spend his first few weeks working out of a coffee shop.” “My friends thought I was crazy,” he says.  “The bank didn’t even have a building here, and I was buying people coffee in the coffee shop so they would come over and talk to me!”

Lack of office space didn’t stop Justin. As he put it, all he had to do was share the bank’s value proposition. “We have a great story. A mortgage is a mortgage is a mortgage. It’s really about who you’re working with, and we have the best operations staff in the business. They are the heroes.”

To prove his point, Justin points to the number of mortgages he’s helped people get since joining INB in February 2016. In just over two years, he’s done significantly more business than he did the first three years of his career.

Justin definitely breaks the mold of a traditional banker. Both his colorful socks and personality set the stage for the new INB “backdrop” in downtown Champaign. As he puts it, “Our culture is new and trendy, as is the location we’ve chosen.”

Choosing the Location

INB Commercial Lender Evan Westlake took the lead in choosing the bank’s C-U location. He was familiar with 217 S. Neil having worked with the developer. As he checked out other locations, Evan kept going back to this new build. “The fact that it was in mid-town – bridging the gap between campus and downtown – was very appealing. The space also gave us the opportunity to totally customize the inside space.”

‘Shocking’ Change of Landscape

Evan says many C-U locals are shocked at the transformation of the city block that features INB. Now a multi-use space with high-end apartments on the upper floors, the once blighted block is sleek and clean.  It’s also a big change for Evan. When he first started doing business in C-U, he’d meet clients in local restaurants. Eventually, he’d be invited to their business locations. When our loan production office opened in 2016 that became the new meeting place. Now, Champaign-based Commercial Lender Tom Whooley has a new, bright, inviting space right at the corner of Neil and White to use to talk with commercial customers.

Evan, a U of I grad, first became involved with commercial banking in C-U right out of college while working for us in Springfield.  He says, “I knew the student housing environment, and got a chance to prove INB to the people building the new structures.”

As more and more commercial business came to INB, Evan was fielding requests from the businesses for a way to make cash deposits. But before the bank could open a branch, it needed the right staff.  With Justin already on board, the next critical hire was a commercial lender. Tom Whooley was the guy . . . not just because of his commercial lending experience, but for his commitment to the community.  The Champaign Parks Foundation and Boys and Girls Club are just two organizations that benefit from his skill.

As the staff began to come on board, the job of finding a new, physical location became more important. INB wanted to be in a central location, so downtown was the obvious choice. But bank locations are changing. They used to be large and ornate. Now, with people doing much of their banking online, there’s no need for that. So INB chose to go with a smaller lobby than our other locations, and an urban design with lots of glass and light.

But at the end of the day, it’s not about the space.  It’s about the trust and relationships. We have the right people in C-U to build that trust and those relationships. They have the same values and ideals as the bank’s management team. We see them having great success already, and we’re happy to have a new, inviting space for them to work from.



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