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Bank of Bird-in-Hand to open in fall

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A former home and physician’s office at the intersection of the Old Philadelphia Pike and Ronks Road in Lancaster County is being converted into the Bank of Bird-in-Hand.
A former home and physician’s office at the intersection of the Old Philadelphia Pike and Ronks Road in Lancaster County is being converted into the Bank of Bird-in-Hand. - (Photo / )

First things first.

The Bank of Bird-in-Hand, which will be the first new de novo bank in the United States to open in almost three years, is not an "Amish bank."

Instead, the bank, in the midst of a campaign to raise $16 million in startup capital with a targeted late fall opening date, will work with all of the people, small businesses and farms of eastern Lancaster County.

It just so happens that many of those people, small businesses and farms are Amish, since the bank is in Leacock Township, the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Just don't call it an "Amish" bank, because the bank already is out in the wider community to garner support.

"It is a community bank," said Brent Peters, the bank's president and CEO. "The regulators are very concerned that this isn't just an Amish bank, that everyone has equal access to our products and services. We've had to demonstrate what we will do to reach out to the community to make sure it's not just Amish. And it's not. It's a community bank."

While the area is heavily populated with Amish, Peters said there is an non-Amish majority in its primary service area. Of the 80,500 people in that area, 30,000 are Amish, he said.

The primary service area is a 5-mile radius around Bird-in-Hand that mostly contains small family farms, according to the application the bank filed with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in January.

The secondary service area includes the rest of Lancaster County and the western portion of Chester County.

The bank has been selling stock to raise capital since June, with a minimum of $16 million needed to open. According to the credit insurance application, the bank can raise up to $25 million, but Peters said the bank likely will stop when it reaches $16 million.

The minimum investment is $50,000, and Peters said the bank was about two-thirds of the way to the goal as of the end of August.

FDIC spokesman Greg Hernandez said the deposit insurance application is under review and should be completed soon.

The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities has issued a provisional approval of the bank, contingent on the bank's approval for deposit insurance, according to Edward A. Novak III, spokesman for the department.

Once the application is approved, the bank will be free to open — as long as it has raised the required capital. Bank officials said they're shooting for a Dec. 2 opening.

The 3,000-square-foot facility will be at a former residence and doctor's office at 309 Ronks Road at Route 340, across from Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant. The renovation should be complete by early October.

The bank would be the first de novo (startup) bank to open in almost three years in the United States, Hernandez said. Peters said increased regulation and the availability of banks for sale kept some from opening banks since the recession.

"As a new enterprise, we certainly can't screw up," Peters said. "It would set everybody back. I'm sure there are other groups of businessmen watching to see how this goes. It's a good sign for the industry, because it means the regulators are at least willing to consider a new charter for a new bank to occur."

The bank looks to pick up where HomeTowne Heritage stopped. That bank opened in 1999 with the similar intention of serving eastern Lancaster County, but Boyertown-based National Penn bought the company and its five branches in 2003.

National Penn, which plans to move its headquarters to Allentown in 2014, has more than 100 branches in Pennsylvania.

Of the eight members of Bank of Bird-in-Hand's board of directors, only Peters didn't have direct experience as an investor or board member of HomeTowne Heritage.

William O'Brien, of Manheim Township, will serve as the bank's executive vice president, chief lending officer and chief operations officer. He was the vice president of lending at HomeTowne Heritage as well as an original investor.

Elmer L. Stoltzfus, of Upper Leacock Township and the chairman of the new board, is listed as the founder of HomeTowne Heritage on the deposit insurance application.

Todd Newpher, vice president, bank retail officer for Bank of Bird-in-Hand, said as a former HomeTowne Heritage bank employee, he saw the changes come down from National Penn, including the rebranding of HomeTowne Heritage bank branches to National Penn.

"Some of the changes that were made weren't necessarily in line with what we wanted to do," said Newpher, who was vice president of community banking for HomeTowne Heritage. "I'm not saying National Penn was bad, not at all. Just different. Now we're back to what we do best, community banking."

Meet the team

Here are the people who will be leading the Bank of Bird-in-Hand:

Brent L. Peters

Role: President, CEO and vice chairman of the board of directors

Career: Former founder, chairman, president and CEO of East Penn Bank in Emmaus. When the bank was bought by the former Harleysville National Bank, he served from 2007-10 as the bank’s executive vice president. Graduated from Muhlenberg College.


William P. O’Brien

Role: Executive vice president, chief operations officer, chief lending officer and member of the board of directors

Career: A Virginia Tech graduate with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics, O’Brien was at National Penn Bank from 1999-2012 and served as senior vice president. He was an original lender and investor in HomeTowne Heritage Bank and served as its vice president of lending.


Todd A. Newpher

Role: Vice president, bank retail officer; Bank Secrecy Act officer; security officer and facilities manager

Career: Has been in banking since 2001, first as a branch manager at Commerce Bank in Harrisburg. He moved to American Home Bank in Mountville in 2004, then HomeTowne Heritage as the vice president of community banking for the Lancaster region in 2007, where he stayed until taking his current position with Bank of Bird-In-Hand in December. Native of Reading and a graduate of Alvernia College.

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