After months of preparation, CresCom Bank opened its Wilmington office Monday.
The location, at 4710 Oleander Drive, is the former office of Cape Fear Credit Union. The full-service branch includes an ATM and drive-thru service, Wilmington market executive and senior vice president Marshall Cooper said Monday.
CresCom, headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, entered the greater Wilmington market in December 2014 when it purchased 13 locations in southeastern North Carolina – including five (now four) in Brunswick County – and northeastern South Carolina. Those branches had belonged to Virginia-based First Community Bank, which took over the assets of Waccamaw Bank in June 2012.
CresCom has also maintained a loan production office in Wilmington since its market entry.
Shortly after its purchase of the First Community branches, CresCom bought the Cape Fear Credit Union property with plans to open a local branch, but with no definite timetable for doing so.
Working with Cooper at the new branch are branch manager Joy Cash; commercial loan officers Ronnie Burbank and Russ Thompson; mortgage bankers Wade Burke, John Perritt and John Szalay; and customer service associates Joshua Buchanon and Patty Vernon.
Perritt and Vernon are natives of Wilmington; Cash, Burbank and Thompson have a combined 70 years’ banking experience in the local market, Cooper said.
Cooper himself has been with CresCom since 2007 and was appointed the Wilmington market executive last June.
“I graduated from UNCW in ’96, where I played baseball for Coach Scalf,” Cooper said in an email Monday. "I started my banking career here with Bank of America, thus coming full circle now with CresCom Bank.”
Hiring bankers who were already known in the local market was part of the bank’s strategy, CresCom president and CEO David Morrow said in an interview earlier this year.
“It’s an important part of who we are; part of our vision to be the trusted community bank of choice,” he said. “People are comfortable [doing business] with people they know. It’s important in a community bank.”
Cooper said CresCom empowers its associates to provide management with feedback to make the bank friendlier.
“We listen to our front-line folks and keep open minds,” he said, adding that associates are trained to “look you in the eye and give you a firm handshake. Our front-line folks really take ownership of our customers.”
The bank’s tagline, “Have a nice bank,” really reflects CresCom’s culture, Perritt said.
“In most organizations, mortgage lending is a separate silo, but our underwriters and processers are here. There is local autonomy, and our mortgage products go beyond the five traditional ones: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA, FHA and VA.”
In addition to operating traditional branch offices, CresCom offers mobile banking, online banking and eBusiness services, Cooper said.
CresCom, with assets of about $1.3 billion, has increased its footprint in the past couple of years, with the purchase from First Community and the establishment last year of a branch and loan production office in Greenville, South Carolina. Its primary markets, however, remain Charleston and Myrtle Beach, according to Morrow.
“Wilmington is a great banking market,” he said. “It is closely associated with where our markets are today.”