An upcoming ribbon-cutting event at the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce both celebrates the entry of Customers Bank into the area market and provides an opportunity for the bank to report on its first nine months.
On Monday, the chamber will host an event on its lawn to mark the occasion and give Customers’ local staff an opportunity to thank those who have welcomed the bank and helped its successful launch, said Brad Neigel, executive vice president and the regional president for the Carolinas.
“We’re coming up on the [one-year anniversary] of when I joined Customers Bank and we officially announced our entry into the market,” Neigel said earlier this week.
Since then, the bank has staffed up to offer commercial lending and residential mortgage services to the Cape Fear area and, more recently, opened a loan production office at 6740 Rock Spring Road, Suite 230, in Mayfaire Town Center. In addition to Neigel, the staff consists of Matthew Hilliard, Kellie Lewis and Morgan Moskal, all of whom serve as vice presidents and commercial relationship managers.
Last fall, when Reading, Pennsylvania-based Customers Bank hired Neigel to head up its Wilmington office as the bank’s Carolinas market entry location, Neigel said that the city appeared to be the ideal place for Customers to plant its flag in the region.
“We [feel] that Wilmington, for what we do and what we’re able to bring to the table, [is] a better fit for a first location than Raleigh or Charlotte. We have a high-touch delivery model, and in Wilmington, face-to-face relationships are important,” he said at the time.
Neigel said Monday that the bank feels it has “proof of concept” for that decision. It’s a market Customers Bank understands well.
“Wilmington has a lot of similarities to our headquarters of Reading, Pennsylvania,” he said. “It’s a mid-size city versus Raleigh or Charlotte, where we might get lost in the shuffle. We have been very pleased here. We have that proof of concept of being able to look back and say we’ve made the right choice.
“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of success and reception, confirming our selection of Wilmington,” Neigel continued, adding that Customers has forged strong working relationships in the community, including with the chamber, with Wilmington Business Development and with several area nonprofits it has supported.
“In terms of lending, we have met all our goals,” Neigel said. “We will have exceeded more than $100 million in commercial loans by year’s end, which was our target.”
What’s ahead for the bank?
A full-service branch in Wilmington is “on the horizon,” according to Neigel, as is a gradual expansion into other mid-sized markets in the Carolinas. Regardless of where the bank extends its footprint, Neigel emphasized that it will continue to be a community bank with a focus on serving small businesses from $1 million to $250 million in annual sales. And, he said, Wilmington will continue to be its flagship location in the two-state region.