By JOHN HOWELL Centreville Bank dates back to 1828 when local business and civic leaders, textile manufacturer John Greene and surgeon Sylvester Knight, started a bank in the village of Centreville in West Warwick. A hundred years later in celebration of
Centreville Bank dates back to 1828 when local business and civic leaders, textile manufacturer John Greene and surgeon Sylvester Knight, started a bank in the village of Centreville in West Warwick.
A hundred years later in celebration of its centennial, the bank opened the classical building that continues to be the gem of the village of Arctic.
A lot has changed, and yet it hasn’t. The grandeur and that sense of stability that comes with columns, marble, brass fixtures, rich mahogany and gold leaf trim is there. Light streams to the floor of the bank through round windows that had once been boarded and an overarching skylight. It’s an established place.
Harold M. Horvat, Centreville president and CEO, is more than opening windows to one of the few remaining mutual banks in Rhode Island. The changes start right on the bank floor, where tellers are now “universal bankers.” Once limited to handling customer transactions, they open accounts and start the process of mortgage and loan applications plus a myriad of other services. Traditional bank counters have been remodeled so tellers can easily step to a desk and sit in a more private setting with customers.
The attention to interaction with the customer doesn’t stop there. The bank has installed ITMs (interactive teller machines) that bring a new meaning to ATMs. Indeed, customers can automatically process transactions at the machines, but with the push of a button they can talk with someone at the bank from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. of Saturdays.
And how does this all fit into the building that opened in 1928? Well, it doesn’t.
While maintaining the appearance of a row of storefronts on Main Street, the buildings are interconnected, giving the bank the space for its service center.
On a recent tour, Horvat led the way down carpeted corridors to open modern offices where people work from cubicles personalized with family photos and belongings. We missed out on the home-baked cookies that had been available at one office earlier in the day.
You don’t have to go to West Warwick to find Centreville. The bank has branches in North Kingstown, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, Coventry and western Cranston. By this June, it expects to open a Warwick branch across from Lowe’s on Greenwich Avenue. (The building is under construction.) It also has plans to occupy the former Citizens branch bank on Rolfe Square in Cranston. And then there’s Putnam Bank in nearby Connecticut, which Centreville acquired last fall for more than $115.5 million and will integrate into its operation this spring.
The combined organization will have approximately $1.78 billion in assets and $1.31 billion in deposits. Upon completion of the transaction this spring, the current branches of Putnam Bank will remain open and will conduct business under the trade name “Putnam Bank, a Division of Centreville Bank.”
That’s not where Horvat plans to stop. His sights are on expanding Centreville throughout Rhode Island and the region.
“We would like to be a top performing community bank,” he said.
The operative words are “performing” and “community.”
Is this leading up to a publicly traded institution with the prospect of being sold to an even bigger bank?
“There’s no reason for us to sell,” Horvat said.
He points out Centreville is strongly capitalized at a capital-to-asset ratio of 22.6 percent, giving it the muscle to keep pace with technological developments and expand. Income for 2018 was $4.1 million.
“Our charge is to benefit the community and the depositors instead of the stockholder,” he said.
The community role of the bank is big. Last year, the Centreville Charitable Foundation made 40 grants to community nonprofits totaling more than $738,153. In addition, the bank paid out more than $136,000 in sponsorships and donations to 85 organizations, ranging from little leagues to the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Bank employees, who number 147, contributed 602 volunteer service hours during the year.
“Part of our job is to get involved in the community,” Horvat said.
Horvat sets the example. He is involved in Special Olympics and serves on the board of FRIENDS WAY, the only bereavement center in the state dedicated to serving children and their families.
Horvat is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and holds a master’s in business administration from Bryant University. His banking career spans more than three decades, beginning at Old Stone Bank in Providence. He has held various positions of increasing authority with several community banks, including serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Mansfield Bank in Mansfield, Massachusetts. He and his family live in Cranston.
The bank is also playing a larger role in the business community. Five years ago, Horvat explains, 95 percent of the bank’s business was residential. Today, he estimates it’s 50 percent with the balance commercial.
Indeed, the bank is vying to take centerstage in the community.