Centric moves in, looks ahead
As Centric Financial Corp. settles into its new operations center in Cumberland County, it is ramping up plans to grow in 2018.
The bank is eyeing a new branch, weighing upgrades to its technology and planning to raise millions of dollars in additional capital, according to Patti Husic, Centric’s president and CEO.
But for Husic, job one in early November was making Centric’s staff feel at home in the bank’s new operations center, a 23,000-square-foot space in Hampden Township.
The building formerly housed Graystone Bank, which was bought by Susquehanna Bancshares Inc., itself swallowed by BB&T.
On Nov. 13, their first day in the new digs, Centric employees pulled into a parking lot where they were met by signs reading: "You’ve Found It!"; "We’re Glad To Have You!"; and "Thank God It’s Monday!"
The signs had been put there over the weekend by Husic and Leslie Meck, Centric’s chief retail officer.
Over the rest of the week, the bank brought in breakfast, served lunches and treated everyone to pizza and beer one evening at Al’s of Hampden, a nearby brewpub.
"The whole focus was on making them feel at home," Husic said of the moving-related festivities.
Husic hopes the new space is more than a home. She sees it as the foundation for continued growth at Centric, which had assets of $553 million at the end of the third quarter in 2017, up from $464.2 million for the same period in 2016.
Net income came in at $1.16 million for the third quarter, up from $879,000 from the year-ago quarter.
One growth area has been under the bank's Doctor Centric brand, a division that caters to doctors and dentists.
"You don't see a lot of the community banks trying to compete in that space," said Husic, noting that the sector is mostly served by larger regional and national banks.
Centric tries to distinguish itself through personalized service and access to decision makers like Husic, whether via phone, email or 6 a.m. text message.
Centric is one of a handful of community banks still based in Central Pennsylvania after a wave of mergers between 2014 and 2016. Others include Bank of Bird-in-Hand, Ephrata National Bank, Mid Penn Bank, Orrstown Bank, PeoplesBank and York Traditions Bank.
Centric was founded in 1919 as Dauphin National Bank, became Vartan National Bank under the ownership of the late real estate developer John O. Vartan and was reborn under its current name in 2007. Its headquarters is in Lower Paxton Township.
The Hampden Township office consolidates operations that had been scattered across three locations in Cumberland and Dauphin counties, including at its headquarters branch in Lower Paxton Township, Husic said.
About 60 people work in the new office, which offers room to grow over the next three years, Husic said. The bank also has the ability to take over an additional 8,000 square feet in the building, which is at 1826 Good Hope Road.
The bank employs a little more than 100 people overall, Husic said.
Although work remains to be done on the new facility, Husic is thinking ahead. Among Centric's plans for 2018:
- Opening a branch, bringing its total to five. The bank also has two commercial loan offices, in Mountville and Doylestown. Husic declined to say where the new branch would be located.
- Investing in technology, including a commercial lending system called nCino, which promises to make the lending process more transparent to customers
- Raising potentially $15 million to $20 million in new capital to support growth. The bank last raised capital in 2015, bringing in net proceeds of about $11.3 million.
Centric also is likely to enhance its online banking process after gathering feedback from an advisory board composed of millennials.
Board members had reviewed the bank’s online banking, Husic said. "Someone asked if it was built in the 1980s."
What is not in the bank's future is a sale, Husic said, stressing that Centric is still delivering strong performance for its shareholders.
"We're growing," she said. "And we plan to be independent for a long time."
Editor's note: This story has been modified from its original version to reflect that the new office is an operations center for Centric, not its headquarters. Also, the millennial advisory board was discussing the bank's online banking process, not its app.