Your 2016-2017 PACB Chairman
Rolling up His Sleeves for Coatesville Savings Bank and PACB
When Fred Henrich ascended to the chairmanship of PACB at this year’s convention in Walt Disney World, he realized that reality has some harsh rides of its own awaiting when he left the Land of Make Believe.
He is keenly aware of the importance of leading his fellow community bankers in a year of such a consequential and contested presidential election. As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sprint toward the Nov. 8 finish line, candidates in many crucial races on the under ticket also try to build out persuasive platforms for Pennsylvania voters.
“This has been one of the most bitter, disappointing, and divisive election cycles that I can remember,” Henrich commented. He also admitted it is a “bit scary,” as community banks endure the unnerving suspicion that many candidates have trained their sights on them, and will fail to differentiate the big from the small, and the good from the bad.
Intrusive government regulation, interest rates, taxes, economic anchors, racial and financial divides, the shrinking middle class, security challenges –all are complicating the landscape for today’s community bankers.
As president and CEO of Coatesville Savings Bank in Chester County, a post he has held for the past seven years, Fred knows the importance of staying true to your home.
He has remained cheerleader-in-chief for a Main Line town that has seen its share of economic rollercoasters. When everyone else disembarked at the bottom, Fred and his bank decided to stay and roll up their own sleeves to ensure that the rollercoaster climbed to the top again.
Coatesville has a long, rich history, dominated by fur-trading, steel and shipping. Situated by the Brandywine River in historic southeastern Pennsylvania, Coatesville’s strategic location by the river, railroad and Pennsylvania Turnpike once made it the center of the action in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century. Midway between Philadelphia and Lancaster, it was a popular stopping off point for weary travelers and traders.
In the early 1800s, Brandywine Iron Works and Nail Factory, the forerunner of Lukens, Inc., pulsated with activity, and earned the distinction of being the longest operating steel mill in America. But with industrial restructuring and the resultant elimination of thousands of jobs, Lukens was bought by Bethlehem Steel in 1997, which then went through a series of change-overs to ultimately emerge as the ArcelorMittal Company.
The steel industry, which once drew immigrants from across the globe and put bread on the table for generations of American families, began losing jobs by the thousands. Many businesses –along with the banking behemoths– packed up their suitcases and left for good, but Coatesville Savings Bank stayed, and prospered. That loyalty is returned a thousand fold, as the town enjoys a resurgence in the new millennium.
The borough of Coatesville became Chester County’s only city in 1915. Coatesville Savings Bank was launched just a few years after, in 1919. It has thrived over the course of close to a century because its bottom line has never been about JUST the bottom line.
In its infancy, 15 men with about $200 between them met in the back of the Coatesville Trust Company at Third Avenue and Lincoln Highway. They united under the name of the Industrial Building and Loan Association and offered a chance at home ownership to people who probably would never acquire the means to buy a home outright.
The association prospered, and in 1926, it merged with Steel City Building and Loan. They weathered the stock market crash in 1929 and the lean, melancholy days of the Great Depression. The association moved its location to an office space on Second Avenue, later changing its name to the Industrial Savings and Loan Association, and then, Coatesville Federal Savings and Loan.
In 1970 Coatesville Federal Savings and Loan merged with the Citizens’ Building and Loan.
After 57 years, the officers and directors of the Coatesville Federal Savings and Loan Association applied for the bank’s first branch office. That branch opened in the spring of 1977 in the New Holland Shopping Center, just west of New Holland, flanked by the rolling hills and swaying cornfields of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The branch offered full services, including savings plans, home mortgage loans, and customer conveniences such as money orders and travelers’ checks.
In October 1991, the official name of the association became Coatesville Savings Bank following a conversion to a state-chartered institution.
In January 1996, Coatesville Savings Bank opened its Oxford branch to serve the financial needs of customers living and working in the southern tip of Chester and Lancaster Counties.
In November 2000, the bank began its foray into internet banking through its website, and, in combination with its telephone banking products, entered the brave new world of 24/7 banking. The bank’s commitment to technology has grown, as evidenced by automated teller machines, debit cards, mobile banking, bill payment services, remote deposit capture services, and ACH and direct deposit processing options.
In an effort to provide increased convenience to customers in southcentral Pennsylvania, in January 2007 the bank established an office along Georgetown Road in Christiana, Lancaster County.
The bank defines its mission simply. The trustees and employees of Coatesville Savings Bank “are committed to providing outstanding customer service, competitive products and services, and involvement and support for the communities we serve. It’s how we define community banking.”
PACB President Nick DiFrancesco said, “I love Coatesville –both the bank and the city. I always joke that my dream job is to be the mayor of Coatesville. This community bank defines the essence of our role in today’s increasingly complex and hyper-connected world. The bank still believes in investing in the people and places that invest in them.”
“It combines old-fashioned values with a modern, forward-thinking, tech-savvy approach,” he continued.
That way of doing business has paid great dividends. A fifth branch just opened in the Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community in Quarryville, Lancaster County, capitalizing on existing relationships. As a local, independent, neighborhood bank, this type of expansion not only builds the bank, but the community.
“We promote our local presence, local decision-making, local employees, and local trustees,” bank leaders said.
They have seen competitors come and go, but, like the tortoise’s triumph over the hare, “we’ve maintained a steady, consistent presence and have built on that stability over the years.”
The big banks have rumbled into town and then left, leaving local municipalities in search of a local solution for their banking needs.
“Mergers and acquisitions have displaced or replaced many people. The bank stepped in and hired many talented employees from other institutions whose only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Henrich said.
“We’ve built our retail and lending staff on these very experienced bankers and have enjoyed the business relationships they have brought with them.”
In recent years, the bank underwent a dramatic face-lift. All senior officers have changed, and the bank’s organizational chart was updated to reflect changing lines of responsibility, areas of expertise, and appropriate segregation. Within the past three years, four new board members have been added.
Meanwhile, the city of Coatesville is also receiving a face-lift. Developers, planners, entrepreneurs and businessmen and women have targeted Coatesville as the next “hot spot” suburb of Philadelphia and have identified a litany of opportunities for revitalization and redevelopment.
The Coatesville train station will be a state-of-the-art hub to service the existing Amtrak stop. In addition, plans call for SEPTA to expand its service to Coatesville. Currently, SEPTA stops at Thorndale, a station that has reached capacity.
Part of the train station project involves additional retail space in the lobby area along with a potential training facility and expanded parking.
With the development of the new train station, developers have plans to redevelop the City’s gateway intersection at First Avenue and Lincoln Highway. Plans call for retail shops on the ground level with apartments on two additional floors.
Complementing those moves, the City of Coatesville is in the process of maximizing the charm of its main street, leading to the train station area. Improvements include sidewalk upgrades and new lighting.
A project to expand and renovate City Hall is also underway, to address a number of structural issues with the existing building.
A Marriott Courtyard Hotel opened in 2013 in anticipation of both the train station opening and other projects on the drawing board. This hotel is the only one between Exton and Lancaster on Route 30 and is attracting scores of satisfied overnight guests, diners, and banquet-goers.
Part of the property used for the Marriott Courtyard Hotel has been designated for a commercial office building. Construction of this two-floor building is expected to start by the end of this year.
When the Chester County Commissioners and the Coatesville Area Partners for Progress appointed Sonia Huntzinger as the city’s Economic Development Program Administrator, the bank hosted a welcome reception for her to highlight the hard work, cooperation and entrepreneurship of those who are bolstering Coatesville’s economic resurgence. The reception attracted more than 75 local business people, planners and developers. Huntzinger has been working with these developers to coordinate efforts between them, the city, the county, and other entities, to keep revitalization and redevelopment efforts on track.
“When every other bank left Coatesville, this bank dug in, stayed, and worked to change the course of the region,” DiFrancesco said. “They are a true mutual bank who keeps giving back to the community.”
As part of their long record of community service, the bank hosts rotating art exhibits through Art Partners Studio in the bank lobby. They also sponsor the city’s Strawberry Fest annually. They are at the table of many residential construction loans, and have offered loans to area churches, which is not common.
Henrich is much more comfortable talking about his bank than himself. He acknowledges his gratitude for the steady hand of his PACB Chairman predecessor, Terry Foster, and of President Nick DiFrancesco, who “managed to pretty much reinvent the association over the past two years.”
He also deeply appreciates the staff, and lauds Troy Peters, Troy Campbell, and Jon Conklin for their election to the PACB executive committee.
Henrich knows that, “Community banks are the lifeblood of our economy both in Pennsylvania and across the country. With your help, we can continue to fuel the economic engine and produce forward motion for the entire country.”
Whoever is elected as the next U.S. President, banks must continue to provide outstanding products and services, while shouldering and responding with dexterity to never-ending regulatory changes and directives from both Washington and Harrisburg, he posited.
Henrich thus identifies one of his primary goals as remaining involved and proactive with our representatives in government. Knowing the policies, the processes and the players will move the association and the community banks they represent forward.
Henrich was born in Reading and grew up there for the first 35 years of his life. He now resides in Wernersville, a suburb of Reading, with his wife Jo Anne, who has been his life partner for 33 years. They have three grown children: a son and two daughters.
Their son is 30, married and works as a computer programmer. Their older daughter is 29 and teaches German, while their younger daughter, 21, is a college senior at Bloomsburg University.
Henrich always seemed to know he wanted to be a banker—even when he was in grade school. He told his grandmother he wanted to be a banker when he grew up.
After graduating from Holy Name High School in Reading, he worked as a general clerk at the Bank of Pennsylvania. When the American Institute of Banking (AIB) offered classes at the local college, he got involved with that learning experience. In 1977, he earned a degree in accounting from Alvernia College, which is now a university, while working 40 hours a week.
At Bank of Pennsylvania, his diligence earned him a host of transfers and promotions.
He began working at the First National Bank of Leesport in December of 1984 as an internal auditor. A year later, the bank created a Finance Division and named him as controller. “Somewhere along the line,” he says modestly, he became CFO, and the bank changed its name.
In 2000, after 15 years, he left the bank after a new president took the reins. He accepted a job outside the banking world, but always knew he’d return. In 2004, he worked for a company that many banks outsourced their services to—Accume Partners.
Then in 2006, the CFO post opened up at Coatesville Savings Bank, and he was hired as a natural fit. Not long after that, in 2009, he was named president of Coatesville Savings Bank.
Henrich knows that, “The smaller you are, the more pressure you have,” from both internal and external forces. “We have witnessed an awful lot of mergers as small banks throw in the towel,” he said.
It is also increasingly difficult to find stellar talent in this era, and the regulatory environment is a phantom lurking in every corner. Many millennials are prone to “job hop,” and not devote the time and effort to building long-lasting relationships.
“We look at banking as a career. They look at it as something to do until something better comes along, which presents all kinds of issues from a management succession standpoint.”
Henrich knows it is difficult to retain qualified and talented and energetic and enthusiastic staff. “It requires management to be very responsive and forward-thinking,” he said. Banks need to focus on “trying new things” in an effort to connect and build a foundation with the new generation entering the job market. PACB, especially with its Center for Financial Training, has recognized the need to develop employees and banking knowledge for people entering the work force, just as AIB did years ago.
Henrich laments the fact that many people today cannot add or count money, and are lost without a calculator. “Basic math skills, communications skills are nonexistent when people come out of school these days,” he said.
Technology keeps changing all the time, noting that the bookstores and record stores of his day have gone the way of the typewriter. “You don’t even have to go to the bank to make a deposit anymore. People use less and less cash. Everything is plastic.”
He is pleased that PACB can help on the education side and assist bankers in navigating the changing government and regulatory environment. “Yes, we are faced with challenges, but if we keep our focus, we should be successful as community bankers.”
And those are the terms he uses to define himself: “focused and realistic.”
He knows that “pie-in-the-sky optimism can cause you to run into a brick wall. We need to realize not everything is going to be a home run,” he said.
In his spare time, Henrich likes to read and golf, joking that, “I’m no good at it, but I do like it.” His favorite authors include epic novelist James Clavell and Clive Cussler.
He grew up playing baseball and has cultivated a love of computers. He is a devotee of the spreadsheet.
He cites the Cub Scout motto—“Do your best”—as a guiding principle. “If you are not going to do your best in everything you do, then don’t bother trying.”
“Faith is also important to me,” Henrich added. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus of the Catholic Church and has held leadership roles there for last 10 years. One of the guiding tenets of the Knights is the concept of charity, he said —giving back to those in need. He has taken it upon himself to help the Knights prosper and acknowledges the “foundation it provides.”
Hard work, charity, focus, knowledge, activism—these are the assets he will bring to make Coatesville Savings Bank and PACB not just “great again,” but even greater.