I recently heard a commercial advertising a large, national bank. The ad explained how they were "building a better bank." What struck me about the ad was that everything they discussed about “building a better bank” had to do with the facilities they were building or remodeling into coffee house style lobbies. They do look sleek and modern, and as facilities go, Blackhawk Bank is certainly proud of our new offices in Janesville, Elgin and Roscoe. However, I think the large banks are missing the whole point.
Blackhawk has been building a better bank for years. While other banks tout their facilities, I believe we are building a better bank from the inside out. Just as a church isn’t the building, but rather the individuals in the congregation, a bank isn’t the facilities, but rather the people inside that make the bank what it is.
At our 2019 Strategy Day, I shared a story about the bank I came to work for almost 15 years ago. Many of the employees here today were here then and did everything in their power to make Blackhawk successful. Despite the hard work, the bank was struggling to make profits, our systems were falling behind, and it was difficult to recruit great teammates. We were spinning our wheels and weren’t looking at the issue properly.
We had to look at doing things differently to build a better bank, and we needed to start from the inside. We needed to be the fun, smart place to bank, invest and work. From that point forward, teammates would be hired and retained only if they possessed one key trait: they had to care. In this context, I believe caring means that we are driven, motivated, and excited to help our clients achieve greater success. We can teach the skills necessary to perform at an exceptional level, but we cannot train employees how to care. Each member of our team cares about their clients, their teammates, and what Blackhawk Bank represents in our communities; it is in their DNA.
We have had phenomenal financial results the last few years. In fact, our average quarterly income in 2018 exceeded the entire year, as recently as 10 years ago. But those are the results, not the cause. The cause is our dedicated staff and how they care. This is evident every day. It’s evident in our commitment to the community with our Work Perks program, in the Human Resources support provided to our clients operating local businesses, and in the Marketing Department’s work on clients’ websites and social media presence, just to name a few.
How much they care was evident when the Retail staff happily volunteered to work extended hours to support the stream of new customers from the disruption in the local banking environment. It’s evident when they go into local schools to teach students life skills they need to succeed, and it’s evident when they volunteer their time in our communities. In my opinion, there was no greater example of how much they care than when one of our teammates became very ill last year. She eventually exhausted all Personal Time Off (PTO) during that battle. But, so many coworkers offered to donate their PTO to her so her family never had to cope without her paycheck. That was awe-inspiring proof of how caring the Blackhawk Bank Family truly is!
At Strategy Day, we talked about continuing the journey from being a very good bank to a great bank. In order to accomplish this, we need to continue providing training and coaching to sharpen skills, exploring strategic expansion and growth opportunities, and looking for innovative products and services to offer. These are the tools the bank can provide to support each of us and to continue our exceptional momentum.
These tools, combined with how much we care about our communities, clients and each other, will make Blackhawk great! Let’s all join in on that journey to greatness!
President & CEO