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First Midlands location a billboard for CertusBank


By Ashley Boncimino
ashleyb@scbiznews.com
Published April 11, 2014

CertusBank’s new downtown Columbia branch may be functional, but its spacious, tablet-studded interior and 10-foot interactive screen have another purpose: to make CertusBank visible to the Midlands market.

“The biggest thing it does is when people drive in everyday and see our name on the building, or when they walk up and down the street and see the screen or the name, it just reinforces the fact that we’re here and we’re trying to be a player in the market,” said CertusBank Midlands Market President Bill Barker at the branch’s open house today. “What justifies an investment like this isn’t transactions. It’s new relationships or expanded relationships.”

CertusBank’s Midlands Market President Bill Barker (left) and S.C. State Executive Scott Frierson helped launch the company’s first major branch in the Midlands in downtown Columbia today.

CertusBank’s Midlands Market President Bill Barker (left) and S.C. State Executive Scott Frierson opposite the bank’s interactive media wall. The two helped launch the company’s first major branch in the Midlands in downtown Columbia today. (Photo by James T. Hammond)

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The new branch at 1241 Main St. is the first major branch in the market, an example of new organic growth for CertusBank, which has relied heavily on acquisitions for growth since it was founded in 2011.

“Clearly, I think organic is part of our model, as well as where it makes sense where we think we can continue to grow our footprint,” said CertusBank S.C. State Executive Scott Frierson, who attended the open house. “Then we just need to leverage the investments we’ve made in those markets we’re already in and continue to grow our market share in those markets.”

With an interactive media wall visible from the sidewalk, plenty of couches and tables, and an internally lit C-shaped bar where guests can check email on tablets, it closely imitates the bank’s flagship Greenville location.

“As you can see here today, our banks are built and designed specifically to be very interactive and consultative. We want them to have an experience, if you will,” said Frierson. “This entrance into the Columbia, Midlands market helps us to kind of connect the dots in our statewide footprint, and that’s our goal, to be a statewide financial institution.”

The Columbia branch is the first to open since the company’s change in leadership with the termination of three CertusBank executives and the introduction of interim President John S. Poelker.

Milton Jones, Walter Davis and Angela Webb were terminated from their respective posts as executive chairman, CEO and president, while Dr. Robert L. Wright succeeded Jones as chairman of the board of directors.

The leadership change came two weeks after CertusBank launched an investigation into allegations made in an American Banker article about exorbitant corporate expenses in the midst of persistent quarterly and annual losses.

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