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Left, Bob Hammerschmidt, president; John Himmel, Springfield region chairman; and Christopher Sweet, vice president for Commerce Bank
Left, Bob Hammerschmidt, president; John Himmel, Springfield region chairman; and Christopher Sweet, vice president for Commerce Bank

Pre-1980s Decade Award Finalist: Commerce Bank

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Commerce Bank has a direct impact on the southwest Missouri economy partly because of the loans it makes to small businesses and consumer households, says Springfield Region Chairman John Himmel, but he says the institution also has carved a niche locally by meeting students’ banking needs.

Springfield has several higher-learning institutions, including Missouri State University, where Commerce has long had a presence, either with a branch or automated teller machines.

“We have always had a very nice market share – and a growing market share – of the Springfield population, and we feel that that’s huge because so many graduates want to stay in our area,” he says, noting that area branch coverage enables Commerce to retain much of its student business.

The bank’s impact also comes from its role as a local employer.

“The payroll and the economic benefits that our 250 employees generate in the Springfield community is substantial,” Himmel says. “People live, work and shop here in this market,” he says.

Today, Kansas-City-based Commerce has 372 locations in five states – Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado – with 18 in Springfield and the surrounding communities, says Jenny Stanley, assistant vice president and regional marketing manager.

Commerce’s presence in the Ozarks dates back to 1902, when the bank opened on Commercial Street as Citizens Bank with two employees and assets of $25,000. In 1967, the institution became an affiliate of Commerce Bancshares Inc. The bank operated as Citizens until 1972, when it became Commerce Bank.

Now, 108 years later, Commerce has total assets of $18.1 billion and 5,125 employees, 250 of whom are in Springfield, Stanley says.

Commerce added a financial services division in 1985, combining divisions now called Commerce Trust Co., Commerce Brokerage Services and Commerce Insurance Services. The bank, which is publicly traded (Nasdaq:CBSH), posted earnings of 71 cents a share for the quarter ending June 30.

Those employees do more than just work in the communities served by Commerce.

Himmel says Commerce employees don’t just work in the communities the bank serves.

“Employees at all levels are highly engaged in community service and serving on community boards and assisting with community groups, and the last time we did a tally, we found that our people are serving on the board or volunteering for 90 different organizations,” he says.

The bank also gives financial support to organizations that serve the Ozarks, including Isabel’s House Crisis Nursery of the Ozarks and Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield.

“Our philanthropy and our charitable giving, through both the bank as well as the Commerce Bank Foundation, has contributed literally hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years,” Himmel says.

In 2009, Commerce ranked No. 2 among Springfield Business Journal’s Choice Employers for companies with 101 to 300 employees, for benefits including 401(k) matches, access to professional development and training and a practice of promoting from within.

More recently, according to Springfield Business Journal coverage, the bank ranked No. 1 in the Midwest on the 2010 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power & Associates and was No. 23 on the American Bankers Association’s Banking Journal ranking of public banks and thrifts with assets of more than $3 billion.[[In-content Ad]]


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