Previously a family home, the building being extensively renovated on Savannah Avenue near the Zetterower Avenue intersection will be the first office of the Statesboro Bank, a division of the Glennville Bank.
With it, the Glennville Bank and its holding company, GB Bank Group, expand to Statesboro as their fifth community. Founded in Glennville in 1905, the Glennville Bank opened a branch in Ludowici, called simply the Ludowici Bank, in 2000, then acquired Tippins Bank in Claxton in 2005 and established the Reidsville Bank in 2010.
Expected to open this summer, the Statesboro Bank office at 203 Savannah Avenue will be exclusively a loan production office at first, but it is being built with two drive-thru lanes for possible expansion as a full-service bank.
"That's not to say we would operate out of this location solely," said Will Sheffield, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the Glennville Bank. "It may be that, down the road, if we decide to open a full-service office, there could be additional offices throughout the Statesboro area."
The new office will in fact be the seventh location for the Glennville Bank. While each division retains a name unique to its community, all are officially divisions of the Glennville Bank, which has two locations in Glennville. The Tippins Bank also has two offices in Claxton, while the other divisions have one location each.
Statesboro seems a natural expansion area for the Glennville Bank. Several of the bank's officers and directors are Georgia Southern University graduates, and the bank's leadership has maintained relationships in Statesboro over the years, Sheffield said. In fact, Glennville Bank President and CEO Tracy Durrence is a Georgia Southern alumnus who worked 13 years at First Bulloch Bank, the Statesboro-based bank later acquired by BB&T.
"He's familiar with the market," Sheffield explained. "We knew we wanted to grow and move out to an additional location, and we felt like, looking at all the additional locations within a 50-to-100 square-mile radius, Statesboro was a fit for us with what we're planning to do."
As a loan origination office, the Statesboro Bank on Savannah Avenue will make small-business, consumer and agriculture loans. It will also offer home construction loans and mortgages.
"We're a community bank and we want to serve the small community niche. ...," Sheffield said. "We're very conservative, but we also offer what we feel is very good service."
A conservative approach and an emphasis on customer service could help explain how the bank has been around 110 years while experiencing gradual growth. The Glennville Bank is one of the rare banks born before the Great Depression that are still around today. More recently, the bank weathered the Great Recession, adding its Reidsville Bank division in 2010, a time when some banks were failing.
Now, Sheffield agreed, banking generally appears to be heading into a better period.
"Based on the numbers that I see from our peers, the local banks, it appears that it has improved dramatically," he said. "I wouldn't say that it is completely cured, but there is a tremendous improvement in the banking industry as a whole."
On Top 25 list
Including all of its divisions, the Glennville Bank has assets of approximately $210 million.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle in a Feb. 27 report listed the Glennville Bank 20th among Georgia's top 25 performing banks as ranked by Banker's Caddy, a St. Louis-based banking analytics firm. The rankings were based on earnings, growth and liquidity, asset quality and capitalization. Most of the banks on the list are in small towns, from the First State Bank of Blakely to People's State Bank & Trust in Baxley.
Reflecting the Glennville Bank's business approach, the loan office is a conservative entry into the Statesboro market. Until expanded to a full-service bank, it will not at first be able to accept deposits. The office will employ only about three people in the beginning.
"We prefer to have locally homegrown staff, so we'll start possibly interviewing potential candidates in the next few weeks," Sheffield said.
The location was chosen because it is in a high-traffic area near other professional offices and small businesses, such as law firms and insurance agencies. But the repurposed house should give the office a welcoming, confidential air for loan closings, Sheffield said.
A Statesboro architect, Frank D'Arcangelo of Martin, Rule & Associates, drew the plans to turn the house into a bank. Glennville-based Joseph Construction Company is the general contractor.
Making a dramatic change in the building's appearance, the renovation incorporates the look of the Glennville Bank's main branch, D'Arcangelo said. Most of the home's exterior wood-frame walls and roof structure have been retained, but the exterior will be brick and cast stone.
The building is also being moved seven feet to one side and five feet back to make room for the drive-thru lanes and parking.
"This is a significant investment into our downtown, and we will be very fortunate to have them as neighbors," D'Arcangelo said.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.