Nationally, small business lending is down almost 25 percent since 2008, but don’t tell Kinderhook Bank that. The small upstate New York bank has been growing its commercial loan portfolio significantly for the last several years, including during the last eight years.
Kinderhook Bank, the only bank still headquartered in Columbia County, first opened for business in October 1853. In the 163 years since, it has grown from $125,000 in assets and 10 original investors, to $433 million in assets and eight locations in Albany, Chatham, Delmar, East Greenbush, Greenport, Kinderhook, Latham and Valatie. The region is a highly competitive banking environment, but with its top-rated service and an opportunistic eye, Kinderhook has thrived.
More growth planned
In 2013, John Balli was named chief executive officer and then president in December 2015. One of Balli’s first moves was to recruit Jeff Stone, former Albany market president for KeyBank, with a mandate to grow Kinderhook’s Albany presence. The Bank opened a branch in downtown Albany in 2014, and another one in Latham in April 2015.
“It’s all about relationships,” said Stone, Senior Vice President of Retail & Business Development. “Hiring the right people and developing the right relationships — we’ve got a niche and can deliver in ways bigger banks can’t. We have a little more flexibility because of our size. We can get it done.” Stone said the Bank is continuing its expansion plans, focusing on increasing its branch network and growing deposits.
“We’re developing new small business products and want to be the go-to bank for small businesses. It’s an area of growth, along with residential mortgages and home equity loans.” Stone said Kinderhook is also positioning itself to take advantage of the upcoming market disruption in the Capital Region when Key Bank completes its acquisition of First Niagara.
“They are closing 30 branches in October, and more in 2017,” he noted. “We’re interested in finding a couple of those branch locations to complement our strategy of growth. We want to be aggressive in acquiring those customers. It’s a focus of attention for us as we go through the balance of 2016.”
Another focus is community involvement. “We have very traditional values and a longtime legacy of giving back to the community,” Stone said. “We’re very involved in the community. We support local organizations, both financially and with volunteers. It’s part of our history and it’s very exciting to be part of a small bank in growth mode” he added.