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Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Steve Alexander, Associate Editor
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Christy Rivers -
Bippus State Bank
Eric D. Fawcett
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – May 17, 2021
CEOCFO: Mr. Fawcett, what is the overall vision at Bippus State Bank?
Mr. Fawcett: I believe our vision, and it has always been our vision, that the service we provide is of upmost importance to our success in each of our communities we serve. I think if you look at most banks, they typically provide the same products and services with a little bit of variation. However, in the end if you want to be successful and you want to see the bank grow, it comes down to relationships and service that our employees provide to the communities we serve. From our mission, that is exactly what we focus on and that is first and foremost in our minds, when we come into work every day, to serve the customers to the best of our ability.
CEOCFO: How might that play out on a day-
Mr. Fawcett: We are very much customer focused. Many banks are moving to a more technology base instead of in-
CEOCFO: How does that extend to the technology side; how do you make it easy when someone is using the technology?
Mr. Fawcett: We provide one-
CEOCFO: Will the newer technology address all customer’s issues?
Mr. Fawcett: I would like to think so, but I need to be realistic and know this will not always be the case. Our goal is to make sure we are offering the best products that makes our customer’s banking experience the best it can be.
CEOCFO: What is the geographic area you encompass and how have the communities been faring under COVID?
Mr. Fawcett: We have the main office location on the north side of the city of Huntington. We have a south office location as well. We have a branch located to the south in Warren, and to the east in Roanoke, both located in Huntington County. We have one branch in Wabash County in the town of North Manchester.
I do not believe COVID has affected us as badly as some of the larger metropolitan areas. Our businesses have tended to get through this financially well. We have been able to help a lot of small businesses with PPP loans, whether it be the first round or now into the second round, to get them through some challenging times. All in all, I am very pleased with how our communities have come through COVID as we start to reopen.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about the ag side/ag lending at Bippus State Bank?
Mr. Fawcett: Agriculture lending has always been a significant portion of our total loan portfolio. For many years this is what we were known for and continues to be an area of heavy focus. Our success in this area is directly attributable to how we take care of our farmers. In many cases they are like family and we are 100% invested in their overall success. Our farmers are very conservative in nature and in my 29 years at the bank we have never had a charge-
CEOCFO: You recently took on the role of CEO in addition to President. What does that add to your day; what are you doing now that you did not do before?
Mr. Fawcett: My job responsibilities have not really changed. When I took over the presidency back in April of 2019, the former President and CEO, Ryan Warner, was in a two-
CEOCFO: How do you break down between consumer and commercial, and do you see that changing?
Mr. Fawcett: The difference between the two is relatively simple; consumer loans are for anything related to personal use, and commercial loans are for anything related to business use. From a regulatory standpoint, protection for borrowers of consumer and commercial loans is significant. The law provides the highest level of protection to consumers borrowing for household purposes such as personal loans, car loans, home loans, credit cards, payday loans and residential investment loans. I cannot imagine that ever changing because the scope of the loan itself is so different between the two types.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about how you support the communities you serve; how do you decide where to focus your efforts?
Mr. Fawcett: For larger donation requests we look at how the project will enhance the economic prosperity of our community.
We recently committed to two large donations, one to our school corporation and another for an expansion project to a local vocational career center. We are a community bank, and we take this role to heart; support the community and hopefully our contributions provide value. This value has the potential to lead towards economic growth and community improvement. I feel this is a focus we must maintain.
CEOCFO: What do you understand about weathering crisis and how do you help your customers in troubled times?
Mr. Fawcett: I think the first step is understanding what is causing the crisis, how is it affecting your business and in turn how it is affecting your customers and your community. I feel you can make good decisions to address the crisis based upon that knowledge.
Specific to COVID, we were fortunate to be able to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) issued under the CARES Act and administered by the U.S. Treasury and Small Business Administration that helped businesses during the pandemic. We were able to assist close to 600 business customers with nearly thirty-
CEOCFO: Bippus State Band was recognized as one of the TOP 100 Community Banks; what is ahead for you next year? How do you continue the momentum?
Mr. Fawcett: We will continue to do what we do best, and that is to provide the best products and services for the communities we serve in a safe and secure manner. This has worked well for us over the past few years as we have experienced tremendous growth.
Several priorities come to mind when I think about how we keep this momentum going. We need to continue to have profitable growth in an environment that is ever changing, both economically and politically. Operationally, we need to continue to find ways to be more efficient, evaluating products and services so that we can offer the best value to our customers. Finally, we must keep providing superior customer service. As we continue to strive for these priorities, I see great things ahead for The Bippus State Bank.
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“We will continue to do what we do best, and that is to provide the best products and services for the communities we serve in a safe and secure manner. This has worked well for us over the past few years as we have experienced tremendous growth.”