Business Profile – A Style of their Own
Story by Heather Feeler | Oct 30, 2017
Photography by Keith Borgmeyer
Celebrating 50 years, Jefferson Bank maintains great customer service and ties to their community.
Many trends have fallen out of favor over the decades. Bell-bottom jeans of the ’70s. Big, curly hair of the ’80s. Grunge bands of the ’90s. However, other things are timeless, never out of style. Like, say, customer service and community involvement. Just ask Jefferson Bank.
Jefferson Bank is turning the big five-oh this year. The bank officially opened its doors on November 2, 1967, with a brand new brick building at the corner of Southwest Boulevard and Highway 50 in Jefferson City, which was far west of town at the time with no other buildings around it. It was the perfect location to meet the needs of a growing city.
“Jefferson Bank was founded on the idea of being a true community bank,” says Ken Theroff, CEO and president. “To us, a community bank is an involved, corporate citizen that gives back to the community and is an asset to the Jefferson City area.”
Over the last 50 years, Jefferson Bank has continued to give back to the community, including donations to hundreds of community organizations in Jefferson City and the surrounding areas each year. They also strongly encourage their 100 employees to volunteer their personal time and money to serve the community.
Jayne Dunkmann, director of marketing at Jefferson Bank, lives and breathes community involvement as an ambassador of the bank. She recently co-chaired the citywide United Way campaign.
“It is a huge part of our culture to be involved in the community, and we are really proud of that,” Dunkmann says. “By giving back to the community, we’re showing who we really are. Ultimately, what’s good for the community is also good for us.”
The bank’s facilities stand out from other buildings in Jefferson City. The first Jefferson Bank building, on Southwest, was designed, built, and decorated in the Colonial style, inspired by buildings in Williamsburg, Virginia. Every detail was meticulously picked out and approved by the Williamsburg Foundation to ensure it was authentic to the 18th century style. This included the crushed seashells in the mortar of the building, the color paint used on the walls, and distinctive oil paintings of presidents.
Donna Westhues, who was instrumental in the interior design of the Jefferson Bank buildings, took many trips to Williamsburg, Virginia to visit museums and other buildings to truly understand the Colonial style. She then incorporated those into the design and seasonal traditions of the bank, including Christmas wreaths with real fruit and popcorn strung on the Christmas tree in the lobby.
“For the first Christmas tree at the bank, I remember we popped popcorn and the tellers helped us string it between helping customers, then their families came in later to help us decorate the tree,” Westhues says.
The bank’s family culture has been a constant through the last 50 years, including the tradition of keeping the grounds of Jefferson Bank beautifully maintained year round. Walter Ittner started this tradition when the bank opened in 1967, and he passed the torch to his son, Donnie, who is the head of maintenance today. The crew works hard to make sure the facilities shine, including planting more than 5,000 bulbs in the fall that bloom in the spring. It’s not only a tradition carried on from father to son, but also part of the bank’s vision from the very beginning.
“Our facilities are our billboards. Rather than go out and buy billboards, we’re making an impression with our buildings,” says Dunkmann. “The maintenance crew takes pride in what they do and provides a welcoming environment for our customers.”
Theroff, who is the third president in the bank’s history, has also grown up in the Jefferson Bank family (including his years on the Jefferson Bank Little League team). Many of the young leadership team currently at the helm, including Theroff, have had the privilege of learning from the founding fathers of the bank as they’ve progressed in their career. The collaboration and mentoring even continue today.
“As president of the bank, it’s great for me that the first president of the bank, Harold Westhues, continues to serve as chairman of the board, and I can talk to him anytime,” Theroff says.
Even as Jefferson Bank pauses to celebrate 50 years this November, the team continues to look ahead to the future: balancing new banking regulations, adapting to emerging trends in technology, and always keeping relationships and the community at the heart of what they do.
“We want people to feel like they’re having the best banking experience, whether in their recliner at midnight or in our lobby at noon,” says Theroff. “Just like the pride we take in our buildings and grounds, we strive to treat people like we want to be treated. That never goes out of style.”
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