By Sarah Pridgeon
Five years of planning and construction reached fruition this month with the completion of the remodeled Sundance State Bank. The finished premises, says Jim Durfee, Bank President, were designed to be “traditional, basic and functional” and to provide space for the bank to continue evolving and growing.
“We knew it was time for an expansion when we started squeezing people in wherever we possibly could and walled off part of the boardroom to make an office for me,” smiles Durfee. “We had no room for growth opportunities.”
Management began putting together plans for the overhaul in the run-up to the 2009 expiration of the post office’s 30-year lease. The number one priority was office space, says Durfee, along with a facelift on the wear and tear of 30 years of business.
“Nicked wallpaper, scuffed carpets – the usual wear you’d expect after that amount of time,” he explains.
“Just think of how worn out the teller cabinets were after 30 years,” he continues, tapping numbers into his calculator. “If you imagine they were opened and shut 40 or 50 times a day, every working day of the year… that’s 400,000 times! They were starting to not want to open any more.”
The bank hired New Ground to work on the renovation, architects who specialize in the construction and design of banking facilities. New Ground incorporated management’s ideas and made sure they fit structurally and met legal requirements for, for example, handicapped access and fire codes.
The first phase of the renovation involved construction of an extra section of building to house bookkeeping and a drive-up window, which was completed in May 2010. The new post office building was then built and leased between September 2010 and the following July.
Once the post office had been relocated, the bottom side of the building was gutted and remodeled and a facelift was given to the central area. Access between the different parts of the building was added and, finally, the top end was given a facelift and new teller area.
“It’s given us plenty of extra room,” says Durfee. “We have four empty offices for future growth – it was five when we planned, but we already hired Amber Edwards.”
Though no changes will be made to the services offered in the wake of the overhaul, it will allow the bank to add more personnel to perform current services and handle growth.
“We’ll also keep monitoring technological changes to keep up with the world and update,” explains Durfee. “People want to be able to use their smartphones for banking, for example. We’ll be making changes to how we deliver, not what we deliver. Our philosophy is the same – we’re still striving to be customer-oriented.”
The bank celebrated its completed new look last weekend with an open house barbecue that attracted 500 visitors, many of whom offered compliments on the redesign. Numerous goodies were given to guests, including hats, Frisbees, spatulas, rain gauges and shopping bags.
“I’ve been stopped in the street, received thank you notes telling me it was a lot of fun – people are thankful we put it on, but I keep telling them we put it on to thank them!” says Durfee. “After all, without our customers, we wouldn’t have a bank.”