The Harder Right: An Interview with Miners Bank CEO George Groves
June 23, 2011
Nick DiFrancesco interviews George Groves, CEO of Miners Bank
The following article was published on May 9th, 2011 by the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers (PACB). Nick DiFrancesco (ND):
Bank is nearing the 80-year marker. As the current caretaker of this
rich legacy, how do you think your bank’s reputation has held up over
these many decades?
George Groves (GG): Well, Miners
Bank has always had the reputation of being committed to the community.
I’d say that irrespective of other issues, that commitment has held
steadfast. We’re always encouraging additional employee involvement in
our hometowns, but there’s work to be done here.
ND: Integrity is core value that
has an elevated place at Miners Bank. Practically speaking, what does
integrity look like to your customers?
GG: Integrity is essential to our mission. Do what’s
right and everything else sorts itself out. In our bank, we’re building
a foundation of trust that the next generation of stewards will have to
vigorously maintain. A bank is only as good as our word.
ND: Given the anemic economic backdrop, why is your bank still growing?
GG: In 2009, we focused on a strategy of commercial
lending to locally owned, privately held businesses in the Schuylkill
region and the adjacent market. Proper marketing and execution of this
strategy gave us the growth in late 2009 and 2011, and as a result we
welcomed new commercial relationships and the resulting loans and
deposits. We also added several cash management services to enhance
those relationships. I’d say we’ve been fortunate in that a market
opportunity was available, the target market was receptive and we were
able to take advantage of it.
ND: Part of your stated strategy
for growth is the mortgage division. How are you convincing customers
that it’s the right time to build and buy?
GG: Look, we aren’t trying to convince customers
that the timing is right to build and buy. That’s their decision and
based on their needs and resources, and we respect that. What we are
doing is developing a product portfolio that gives homeowners and
developers the right options for them to pursue their choice. On the
commercial side we’ll work with experienced and financially stable
developers to finance new communities. On the retail side, now that we
have the ICBA relationship, we are able to offer very attractive
mortgage options to finance those choices. Having the ICBA secondary
market capability allows us to continue to be rate aggressive to those
potential borrowers. I’ll add that we’ve also dedicated substantial
resources to educating and training our branch staff so that we can take
applications in the local markets we serve. Given a concern that rates
must inevitably rise, we didn’t want to carry the fixed product on our
balance sheet. Again the ICBA service met that objective.
ND: As a small, community bank, what are the major obstacles to remaining competitive with the chain banks on mortgages?
GG: In our market, 4 of the larger banks operate. Of
the 4, only one has not had their own challenges. The larger banks in
our market tend to market rate and or technology. As a community bank,
we must be responsive to rates, but community banks don’t typically
have the terms and conditions attached that the larger banks develop.
Customers have the capability of reading those terms to get past the
On technology, by outsourcing many of the key elements, we can
provide technology solutions equal to or better than the larger banks.
So our expectation is that the competition will continue to intensify
their efforts to come “down market” and will use technology and pricing
as the key tactics. Service is a pretty effective way to combat this.
ND: What sold you and your team in Minersville on the ICBA Mortgage Solution platform?
GG: In an environment in which interest rates are
volatile, it was just not feasible to continue to book long term, fixed
rate loans on our balance sheet. It created too much risk. We needed an
off balance sheet solution. We analyzed FHLB, Fannie and Freddie and
found their offerings as more restrictive and non-responsive to a small
community bank. John McNair of the ICBA communicated to us ICBA’s
intent to launch a secondary market product. We were interested in
learning more. We did and found that the product attributes were
favorable. Just by chance we were the first to use the product – right
place at the right time. Sure, there were a few, “hiccups” in the
process, but ICBA and our team patiently worked through those.
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky
Jimmie L Groves – wife of 40+ years
Susannah Groves, Cash Management Specialist, Peoples Bank of York
Elizabeth Aycock, Trust Officer, PNC in Baltimore
2 grand dogs
United States Military Academy, West Point, 1966—BS Military Engineering
Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia, 1973—MBA
Professional Working with the team to start Legacy Bank and making it a
great bank for clients and shareholders. Working with the team to
reposition Miners Bank as a quality
Coming Home to Glory
David Eisenhower’s review of the time after the Eisenhower presidency.
Joe DiMaggio and the last magic number in sports.
“to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong”
From the Cadet Prayer & a lesson also learned from my parents
“It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man who
is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and
blood; who strives valiantly…if he fails, at least fails while daring
greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid
souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
“Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up”.
“Failure is the start point, not the end”.
© 2010 Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers
2405 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-231-7447 or Toll Free (in PA only) 800-443-5076
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