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Mick Nitsch, community bank president, left, and Conrad Griggs, business development officer, lead The Bank of Missouri's Springfield market activity. Its fourth branch opened in June at 2760 S. Kansas Expressway, and another is slated to open later this year. Since entering the market in 2006, Bank of Missouri has grown its local assets to $147 million.
Mick Nitsch, community bank president, left, and Conrad Griggs, business development officer, lead The Bank of Missouri's Springfield market activity. Its fourth branch opened in June at 2760 S. Kansas Expressway, and another is slated to open later this year. Since entering the market in 2006, Bank of Missouri has grown its local assets to $147 million.

Bank of Missouri fortifies Springfield-area presence

Posted online
Bank of Missouri’s June 30 grand opening of its fourth Springfield-area full service location at 2760 S. Kansas Expressway is its latest move to solidify its footprint in the Ozarks – and plans for a fifth local branch are in the works.

Perryville-based Bank of Missouri entered Springfield in September 2006, enlisting banking veteran Mick Nitsch, formerly with Regions Bank, to build its local presence. Nitsch started local operations at zero, and by 2008, when Bank of Missouri acquired Republic-based Countryside Bank, local assets were at $60 million.

Nitsch said local assets are now at $147 million, while bankwide assets are at $847.5 million. In addition to Perryville, Bank of Missouri also operates branches in Jackson, Marble Hill, Columbia and Cape Girardeau.

Bank of Missouri Chairman and CEO David Crader said the bank began looking at expansion in the late 1990s, and Springfield made the short list of 20 potential communities, largely because of the strong health care and university systems in the local economy.

“If they don’t have one of those two, then they’ve got to be extremely close to one of those,” Crader said of the communities the bank targets. “We don’t waver from that.”

Crader said Nitsch, with whom he had worked before, also factored heavily into Bank of Missouri’s decision to come to Springfield.  

“When Mick became available in this community, that’s when we decided (to) go ahead and build a bank around him, so that’s what we did,” Crader said.

He said the size of the Springfield metropolitan statistical area – at least twice the size of all the bank’s other markets combined – has fueled recent local expansion.

“We feel like a lot of our … growth is going to be coming from the Springfield area, and that’s why we’re not hesitant to invest here,” Crader said. “We think the time is right now, and we continue to look for those opportunities that will return value to our shareholders.”

Bank of Missouri’s Kansas Expressway branch is its second in Springfield – the other is at 3807 S. Campbell Ave. – and one of two former Village Bank buildings that Bank of Missouri purchased from Liberty Bank in March for an undisclosed price. The second is at 1301 W. South St. in Ozark, replacing an existing Bank of Missouri branch at 1503 W. Highway J. There also is a Bank of Missouri branch in Republic.

Nitsch said Bank of Missouri has acquired a third former Village Bank location from Liberty with plans to open another branch later this year.

“It is in Springfield, and we will announce the location within the next 90 days,” Nitsch said. “We plan on opening that location this fall.”

Bank of Missouri has grown to 40 local employees from two when the bank came to Springfield.

About 60 percent of Bank of Missouri’s customers are commercial businesses, and some business owners, including Rick Barsness, founder of Incredible Pizza Co.

“The Bank of Missouri has been with our business and helped us through this economy,” said Barsness, who followed Nitsch to Bank of Missouri.

In fact, in the beginning, Bank of Missouri shared space at Incredible Pizza’s corporate offices before moving to a now-closed location in French Quarter Plaza on Republic Road.

Barsness said Bank of Missouri has helped his company open several locations in the past few years and most recently loaned Incredible Pizza more than $1 million to open a store in Davenport, Iowa.  

Sam Benson, president/CEO of Nixa-based Snyder Equipment Co. Inc., in 2007 acquired Tech Tronic Fabrications in Wheatland, purchased some new equipment and added 15 employees with a Bank of Missouri loan worth several million dollars.

“The acquisition helped us grow by 20 percent that year,” Benson said.

Nitsch said one of the challenges for growing the bank has been getting the name in front of potential customers, with an annual marketing budget of just $160,000 – or slightly more than 1 percent of local assets.  

“Financial resources comes into play in relation to marketing and promoting the bank,” Nitsch said. “Big banks have more resources in those areas, and it is a balancing act with the financial resources we have available.”

In addition to using social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as e-mail blasts, Bank of Missouri in September hired Conrad Griggs as business development officer.

Griggs, who has brokerage experience with Merrill Lynch and contacts in the community from his former role as a Springfield City Council member, said he relies on personal touches to reach new customers or grow relationships with existing customers.

“I even bake cookies and take them to clients and potential clients when I make calls on them,” Griggs said.

One of the bank’s upcoming initiatives is working with community and business organizations to educate them about available services and products such as U.S. Small Business Administration loans.

“People sometimes don’t realize that we offer the same products as the big banks,” Griggs said, noting Bank of Missouri has conducted a seminar with networking group Minorities in Business.

Even with the opening of a fourth local branch and a fifth soon to follow, Nitsch is aiming for continued growth of 8 percent to 10 percent a year. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s June 30, 2010, deposit market share report – the latest available – Bank of Missouri has 1.04 percent market share in the Springfield metropolitan statistical area.

“I know we have less than 2 percent of the market share, and that means there is 98 percent out there available,” Nitsch said. “We don’t have a particular target in how large we want to grow or a time frame to get there.”

Features Editor Maria Hoover contributed to this story.[[In-content Ad]]

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