A Lifetime of Drumming Up Business
Andrew W. Hasley, President and CEO of Allegheny Valley Bank, said he stumbled into banking.
But it had to be more than a fortuitous roll of the dice or a strategic yank of a slot machine that catapulted him to the presidency of a bank at the ripe old age of 30, before many people have signed for their first mortgage or heard the plaintive cries of their first newborn.
As a sophomore at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Hasley applied for an internship at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. It was a regulatory post which the application guidelines told him he was too young for, but he applied anyway. He landed the internship.
Thus began his “lucky” foray into banking and his ability to scale barriers that may have sidelined a more easily daunted spirit.
His buttoned-up ways were a far cry from his love of all things percussion. In high school Andy just wanted to play the drums all day. He competed in high school honors bands and played in a rock band, leaving behind photographs that he still jokingly hopes to hide from his three teenage children, Melissa, Amanda and Billy.
Andy sees his idyllic childhood as a solid foundation for his career. His mother taught piano in their home, and his dad was a successful homebuilder. He notes that he lived in a house filled with a Living God, a Loving Family and a World Filled with Hopes and Dreams. His only sibling, a brother, now a dentist, partnered with him to cut lawns, clean gutters, rake leaves, and shovel snow when they were very young. They had over 30 steady customers.
Even back then, in the 70s, his entrepreneurial spirit was as omnipresent as the Steel City’s legendary skyscrapers and bridges. Andy was always focused on working hard and making the world a better place. The harder he worked, the luckier he got.
His focus has always been on the community of Pittsburgh. He has moved four times in his lifetime – all within five miles of the Steel City in any direction. As the Chairman of PACB, he is delighted to be broadening his embrace to the entire Commonwealth, from glittering skyscrapers to swaying cornfields and placid country towns.
When Hasley does something, he does it right. He was drum captain in the marching band and made it to the All-Pennsylvania Orchestra while in high school, the All-Stars of music–and wanted to remain focused on music. Still, knowing that drum-playing was probably not a strategic career move for him long-term, he decided to major in business as a practical default major when he enrolled at Duquesne University.
After completing his internship at the FHLB, his co-workers encouraged him to work for a CPA firm. He took their advice, and went to work for the one of the world’s largest public accounting firms, Ernst and Whinney (now Ernst and Young) for a few years. He became a CPA and later succeeded in earning his MBA in 1991 from Duquesne.
Then FHLB called him back.
The timing could not have been more pivotal. Right after rejoining the FHLB, the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s hit with a vengeance. Andy was thrust into the eye of the hurricane. That in-depth, hands-on experience has proven invaluable through the rest of his career. The job kept him on the road often and he eventually met his wife, Darlene, then working as a nurse. They remain happily married, 20 years later.
Hasley worked at FHLB for five years, then learned that an area bank–Pennsylvania Capital Bank, a start-up institution, was looking for a CFO.
At 29 years old, he became the CFO of the bank. Very shortly thereafter the bank board made the fateful decision to let the president go, and Hasley literally fell into the presidency.
He was not aiming for the top spot, but seeing a vacuum, he decided to write a strategic plan for the bank. He handed his blueprint to the Chairman of the Bank, and boom! — they made him president.
But he wasn’t even sure that the too-good-to-be-true appointment had happened. He called his wife on the phone and said, “I think the chairman just made me the president of the bank.”
He still viewed himself as more of an entrepreneur than a banker, and wasn’t quite sure what was in store for him.
At the time, the bank had $125 million in assets and 60 employees. He left his office the Friday he was appointed president and, when he returned on Monday, he discovered that the office furniture had been reconfigured, and the chairman had joined his desk to Andy’s.
That furniture change sent a profound message to him. The chairman said to him that he was going to work with him, teach him how to run a business and was going to ensure he was successful. That was a turning point for Andy.
“It is good to give people opportunities they may not be totally prepared for,” Hasley said. The confidence they placed in him built dedication, camaraderie, trust, and loyalty, and Andy tries to pay it forward.
Today, in his own role, “I try to build and create successful WE people. Challenge employees but be there for them…always.”
“I am not an ‘I’ person.” In fact, he considers himself rather introverted. But he thinks in the language of “We” and the “team,” not “I” and “my.”
He came to serve as the President and CEO of Allegheny Valley Bank and Allegheny Valley Bancorp, Inc. in January 2006. AVB has 10 branches, including one in bustling downtown Pittsburgh, and their headquarters is in Lawrenceville.
Today, he and Darlene thoroughly enjoy their three children: a sophomore at Penn State, and a sophomore and a senior in high school. “Our kids are extremely important to us,” he said with emotion. My priorities in life are very simple and clear “God, family, bank, in that order.”
He and his family love to travel to the beach and tour the national parks. Recently, they traveled to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Yosemite, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon.
As he and his wife and kids descended into the craggy-rocked, copper-colored Bryce Canyon on a harrowing horseback ride, traveling tediously along a three-foot wide walking path surrounded by a 3,000 foot drop, his wife joked, “You found this tour on the Internet, didn’t you?”
But while they all took a risk and were unsure of the dangers, the family moved forward together and not only survived, but enjoyed the ride.
This accountant-banker-regulator still considers himself to be more of an entrepreneur than a banker. Still, “I love the industry. I have a great passion for community banking,” he said.
And without hesitation, “Community is everything.”
He recognizes that the past decade has emerged as “a real grind-it-out couple of years” for community banks, and that “We are surrounded by negativity.”
He believes the challenge as an industry trade association is to “try to figure out how to pull all members in.”
Although consolidations are leading to fewer banks, the ones that remain are “better than ever at what we do,” Hasley firmly believes. “Banks are better positioned, better capitalized and their leadership is better prepared to march on than any other time in history.”
He knows that many community banks are the only player out there, with no competition in their backyard from the mega-banks. In his world, he has big banks like PNC looming over his shoulder. He and AVB are the “little guy fighting the behemoth and winning on Customer Service,” he said.
As he takes the reins of PACB, he has identified six clear goals. He is “careful, however, not to over-promise and under-deliver.”
The first goal is advocacy. He wants regulators and legislators to understand the role of community banks and why they are vitally important. He knows Congress often acts to take care of the majority, and the minority is collateral damage. Our members range from small to large, from $30 million in assets to $5.8 billion. Congress must appreciate that diversity, he maintains.
Second, he hopes to strengthen individual networking opportunities. He wants to put directors and management of banks in front of others with like positions. Members can be in training classes all day long but they can learn so much more from each others experiences, Hasley affirms.
Third, he hopes to raise public awareness about community banks. “We don’t brag enough about ourselves,” he stated.
Fourth, PACB must continue to provide education and training to our members to ensure they keep up with current issues and prepare them for future leadership roles.
Fifth, we must improve membership sustainability. Our membership numbers have declined slightly due to mergers, but our members must take full advantage of the spectrum of products and services that PACB offers. One idea to be explored is to bring banks from other states into the PACB fold. Although he admits that this path presents some potential issues, it needs to be explored in 2015.
And last, Hasley is committed to ensuring our own financial stability.
“Our members give tens of thousands of hours of personal time towards charitable causes and about $6 million in charitable donations. We are a critical source of funding for our local charities,” Hasley said. If community banks go away, so does that funding stream, he points out.
To encourage public service at AVB, Hasley instituted a policy where every employee can take two paid days off a year to help a charity or nonprofit.
“Many employees take full advantage of” that policy. As an added bonus, it is a superlative team-builder. It allows staff to work alongside each other outside the structured office environment.
One of his bank’s favorite causes is the Education Partnership, which was started by a long time acquaintance of his from church. It has created a classroom supply pipeline into our region’s schools to equip students with the greatest need.
AVB stepped up to provide the financing to acquire the operational facilities that became the Resource Center of the Education Partnership. AVB worked with the Partnership’s founders to ensure that they had created a solid business plan and then provided a loan for their 30,000 square foot warehouse facility located in the West End of Pittsburgh right before Thanksgiving in 2009.
Just recently the organization closed on new grants of $500,000 to initiate Phase II renovations to double their service capacity.
Over $2.8 million in financial contributions and over $7.6 million in inventory donations have been received. They have attracted more than 5,800 volunteers and helped more than 22,000 students in need. They have distributed $3 million in supplies so far.
“Many kids are completely ill-equipped to participate in the basic educational process,” Hasley said. Andy hopes the Education Partnership will expand nationally someday.
At Thanksgiving, AVB employees can also be found at a local church, peeling potatoes, making gravy, setting tables and ladling out food.
“We are a very charitable organization that believes we are here for the community.”
“Yes, there is a lending component, but there is a caring component, too.”
Andy’s community service resume began at a very young age, though he didn’t understand at the time why his parents made the family go to Kane Hospital after church every Sunday and wheel elderly residents to their church service. It makes perfect sense to him now.
He thinks today’s young people are more civic-minded than ever. They are charitable even if they do not have a great deal of money. Generation X-ers and Y-ers feel a responsibility to give, and Hasley is inspired by that community spirit, instilled in many at a young age.
Hasley’s dad told him to set goals for himself: some he will hit, some, he will miss. But “try to leave this world a little better place than when you came.” It doesn’t take a revolution. That mantra has set the rhythm of his life.
Hasley also is active on the board of trustees of his church, Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church, and he serves on the board of Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.
Throughout it all, he bangs the drum for the community banking industry.
“PACB is 104 members strong. We have $51 billion in total assets, $35 billion in total loans and $41 billion in total deposits. We employ more than 11,000 individuals in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We make residential loans to customers to buy homes they can afford. We help provide start up financing and support small businesses through multiple generations; even during difficult times.”
“We Matter.” “We make an enormous and vital difference.”
“We must think as ‘we’ not ‘I’,” he repeats often. “We – the community banking industry – can help make America great once again. We not only need to believe this, we need to act upon it and do it together.”
“We may be smaller, but we work smarter, are much more flexible, and provide the personal touch just not available at the Big Banks.” Most importantly, Hasley asserts, “our Customers TRUST US and that is our competitive advantage.”
Like his drumming days, Hasley works with an array of other instruments and players to perform a well-orchestrated symphony of community and financial service—every day, all day.
This article can be found featured in the October 2014 issue of Transactions. Not a subscriber? Visit the Transactions page on this website or call PACB at 717-231-7447 to start receiving the magazine.