The Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank will make its first official step into the New Hampshire market when its opens a branch in Nashua on April 30. The bank, which has $760 million in assets and was founded in 1854, already has a number of connections to the Granite State and opening up a Nashua location was a logical step."This is our first move into New Hampshire and we looked everywhere for the right entry spot," said David Wallace, president and chief financial officer of The Lowell Five."We already have a number of customers who live in the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border region and 10 percent of our employees, including our chairman Robert Caruso, live there. We also have a strong commercial presence and have hired a commercial loan officer to handle accounts in New Hampshire. This was the right time for us to establish a branch, a brick-and-mortar presence in the state." "We also have a strong commercial presence and have hired Donna Upson as a vice president of Commercial Lending to handle accounts in New Hampshire."This will be the 14th branch for the Lowell Five and the first of three new branches expected to open this year. Wallace, who has deep family roots in New Hampshire, said they plan to open a North Andover branch perhaps by October, as well as a second technical school training branch location in Massachusetts by the beginning of the new school year in September. A specialty branch at Greater Lowell Technical High School in Tyngsboro, Mass., has been a "terrific success" in training students in the banking industry, said Wallace.Wallace has worked for the bank for 13 years but his roots to the Lowell Five go as deep as childhood, as his father was a former president. While the bank's mission in the region has evolved, it has remained close to its founding roots. New Hampshire native Franklin Pierce was the country's president when the bank was conceived at a crucial time.At the time, there were five banks in Lowell, but they were not what we know today as customer friendly - none of them would accept deposits of less than $1, an amount far beyond the means of the average mill worker. A group of Lowell businessmen and public servants, including Reverend Horatio Wood and Judge Nathan Crosby, decided to start a bank that would pay interest on deposits as little as five cents. They obtained a charter from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to open "The Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank."Since then, the bank has grown in consumer and commercial scope in the Merrimack River Valley. Lowell Five is ranked the fourth strongest out of 64 savings banks in the state as reported by the Depositors Insurance Fund. It has embraced cutting-edge technological tools and social media platforms to offer its more than 25,000 depositors flexibility to manage their financial affairs."You can come in once, establish your account and handle it remotely if you like," explained Wallace. "We have a much younger group of customers who love the technology and another group of customers who like the personal touch of a traditional location."Recognized by the Boston Business Journal as one of the Best Places to Work for its more than 200 employees, Lowell Five has become a significant economic driver in the region and has strived to become a valued civic citizen with its leadership role on numerous community boards and organizations. The Lowell Five's economic impact on the Merrimack Valley region has grown dramatically as it has evolved into the commercial sector. Wallace said the bank has become instrumental in a number of construction and commercial real estate projects throughout the region.Wallace said what remains constant through the bank's almost 160-year history can be found in its motto - It Starts with a Conversation."We believe in good, honest service for good people," Wallace said. "We find that we do quite well when people come in and inquire about who we are and what we can do for them. It goes back to the days when your handshake was as good as your word. We can't do things quite that simply today because of the regulatory environment, but our commitment to our customers is the same. People know we are straight shooters and that gives us a lot of credence in the community.""It's booming up there," Wallace said about the New Hampshire economy. He believes that the Nashua branch will be the first of other southern New Hampshire branches stretching all the way to the Seacoast for The Lowell Five in the coming years.
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This article appears in the April 20 2012 issue of New Hampshire Business Review