Hampshire First paves way to become NBT Bank

Over a year after merger, bank will change its name Sept. 16

Manchester-based Hampshire First Bank will change its name to NBT Bank on Sept. 16 — the “final step” of its merger a little over a year ago with the upstate New York bank.

The merger between NBT and Hampshire First was completed in June 2012, but waiting a year before changing the Hampshire First name was no accident, said Jay Dinkel, senior commercial banking relationship manager at the bank.

“I think the delay was intentional in order to assure our customers that our basic operations and way of doing banking was not going to change dramatically,” he said. “The Hampshire First name certainly (has) good name recognition in our state, and the NBT management wanted to keep that for a good period of time.”

Hampshire First was organized as a state-chartered bank in 2006 and opened its first location in Nashua, N.H. in November of that year. It has four other locations in the state, in Manchester, Keene, Londonderry and Portsmouth.

In June 2012, it merged with NBT Bank, headquartered in Norwich, N.Y., which operates 161 locations in five states: New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

NBT Bancorp Inc. – the parent company of NBT Bank – is traded on the Nasdaq and had $7.5 billion in assets as of June 30.

Customers will not really notice any changes at the bank, said Dinkel. “At the time of the acquisition in June of 2012, we made all the operational conversion changes that first weekend, so any of the changes that would have been noticed actually occurred over a year ago,” he said. ”This is purely a name change, to be consistent with the rest of the organization.”

As for any concern about getting rid of the brand equity in the Hampshire First name, “certainly we will need to make sure people are familiar with NBT and what it represents – its history and community involvement have gone for decades longer than Hampshire First, but it’s less known in the state, (so) we have our work to prove what NBT represents, but for those of us who have been with the organization for over a year … I think it will be no problem getting that message across.”