Bank makes move to Vine
By RANDY GONZALES
Son of the late George Hendrickson
Commerce Bank has been in its downtown location for the last 20 years. The main bank at 718 Main was open for business as usual Friday, but on Monday it will move to its new location, at 2200 Vine.
When Farmers State Bank became Commerce Bank in 1993, there were 67 employees at its location on Main Street. The bank now has 17 employees at its main facility, in part due to transferring some operations to the home office and also due to technological advances in the industry. The new bank will be smaller in size.
"Having a smaller facility will be more efficient for us, create a better atmosphere, I think, for our customer service, just due to the fact of the four drive-through lanes, the drive-through ATM, and we have three walk-up windows, (and) easy access to our new accounts right there in the main lobby," said Tom Thomas, president of Commerce Bank since 1994.
Just because the bank is changing locations does not mean the bank won't have a presence downtown; there still will be a drive-through location at 132 E. Eighth, as well as a location on the Fort Hays State University campus. The branch location at 29th and Plaza Avenue will close; those employees will work at the new location on Vine.
"We're not abandoning downtown for any reason," Thomas said. "We're just going into a central part of the community, with a newer and more economical building that will provide better customer service, and hopefully provide an opportunity for new customers to come over and do business with us."
At its new location, the bank's drive-up windows will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the lobby will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bank employees are using the weekend to get ready for Monday's opening.
"Everybody will get their own personal work area set up, ready to open up on Monday morning," Thomas said.
As he packed his personal belongings to make the move, Thomas was hit with a wave of memories.
"I'm going through my personal stuff, and I'm finding articles from the late '80s through the '90s," Thomas said. "Just things you hang onto for one reason or another.
"You're leaving a lot of memories in this building. We've had a lot of good customers come through our doors. ... There's a lot of thoughts, number of employees that have gone through our doors. You kind of look back, 'Where have they gone?' "
Ellis County commissioners signed a letter of intent in June 2011 to purchase the Commerce Bank building at 718 Main in exchange for $1 million cash and county property located at 22nd and Vine. The county will turn the old Commerce location into space for county offices.
"We're definitely helping the county with their situation with the courthouse, negotiating them taking over our building and us buying their location," Thomas said. "That investment is good for the county, from the county's standpoint, the taxpayers' standpoint. They're able to get in a nice facility; it's been well taken care of through the years and will be a real asset to the county function also."