By ROY COVINGTON
Observer Business Editor
CLIFFSIDE — At The Haynes Bank here you're still a name, not a number.
It doesn't take an appointment to see the president. His desk is in the lobby, only a few feet away from the tellers' cages.
The bank's loan officer sits to the right of the door. A customer waves as he passes. The service is personal and shirt-sleeve informal.
Not too many years ago, The Haynes Bank would have been typical in many ways of a lot of small town banks.
But with the growth of large statewide systems which stretch into all but the smallest communities, the small independent, locally owned bank today is becoming the exception rather than the rule.
President Bridges and W.B. Jenkins
... Cliffside First Then Chase Manhatten
The Haynes Bank is the only locally owned bank in Rutherford County. It also is one of the oldest, and smallest.
Raleigh Rutherford Haynes, who founded the Cliffside mill and the town of Cliffside, organized the bank in 1907. It first opened for business with its home office in Henrietta and a branch at Cliffside, but later the home office was moved to Cliffside.
Never a large bank, it did, however, weather the Depression and today draws most of its customers from Rutherford and Cleveland counties in North Carolina and Cherokee County in South Carolina.
On June 30, the bank reported total assets of $2,112,024, Including deposits of $1,766,584.
How does a small bank compete with those that are much larger?
So far, says bank president H. Paul Bridges, the big bank competition has not made itself felt too strongly.
“I guess our main competition comes from the credit union at the mill, and, of course, we do have some competition from banks in Shelby and Forest City and Spartanburg, but they don't bother us too much.”
The bank's loan limit is about $40,000, but it's only an occasional customer that requires an amount in excess of that.
In recent years, large landowners in the area, including the mill, have begun to sell off parcels of land for home building. The bank has about one-fifth of its loan volume in
10-year mortgage loans.
Vice president and cashier W. B. Jenkins does see some competitive disadvantages on the horizon, however. The Haynes Bank pays 3 per cent on savings account. “We don't have the volume of loans to permit us to pay more. This 3 per cent strains us as much as 4 1/4 does First Union,” Jenkins noted.
Last week, the bank lost a potential $20,000 savings account because it could not meet the higher Interest rate.
Computerization, with its efficiencies and credit cards, with their profitability, are out of reach of the small banks, and while the lack of these does not bother the Haynes Bank officials at this time, they are aware of them.
Personnel problems do not constitute a major worry either for Bridges or Jenkins, although “when we lose somebody, it's just about as hard for us to find a replacement as it is for the bigger banks,” explained Bridges.
The bank's four tellers are more than just tellers. Each has other specific duties assigned.
Mrs. Jane Hamrick, for example, handles automobile and dwelling insurance. Mrs. Betty Cromer keeps the general ledger and note file up to date when not working a window, and Mrs. Catherine Harris handles bond sales and tax records.
Mrs. Jerene Landreth, who works the drive-in window also performs secretarial duties and handles the mail deposits.
Anyone of them may be called on to help out the two bookkeepers when they get overloaded.
Bank hours are from 8:15 a.m. until 3 p.m daily and until noon on Saturdays.
The bank remains open until 5 p.m. on those days when the Cliffside and Haynes mills—now part of Cone Mills—and Duke Power Company pay their employes.
“We try to work for the convenience of our customers,” explained Bridges. “It promotes good will, and after all, that's part of a bank's business.”
It's a rare customer that comes in that either Bridges or Jenkins can't call by name and all accounts are posted by the customer's name. No account numbers are used.
“We have four customers with the same name and that causes some doing, but we get one to sign one way and another to sign a different way,” Jenkins said.
The bank has had its drive-in window for about five years. At first customers were reluctant to use it because, as Jenkins put it. “They thought they could put their money in
through the window, but didn't think they could get it out.”
But, now, it's a popular attraction.
More than 50 per cent of The Haynes Bank is owned by members of the Haynes family and although there have been some invitations to merge with other banks,
Bridges says, “We feel like we want to continue (as an independent) as long as we're
on a sound basis.”
The Haynes Bank, at this point, has no plans to launch a campaign of acquisition either. “We gave some thought to taking over The Chase (Manhattan) but nothing's been said about that in some time,” said Bridges, with a twinkle in his eye.
Reprinted with permission from The Charlotte
Observer. Copyright owned by The Charlotte Observer. Clipping courtesy Ann Cargill.