When Arkansas-based Arvest Bank expanded into Springfield four years ago, leaders had to rely partially on regional name recognition to connect with potential customers.
“The name is very recognizable in the area,” says Rodney Shepard, Arvest’s Springfield president since early 2011.
“We got some customers with people moving north and with word-of-mouth,” he adds.
With branches in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas, southwest Missouri was a logical growth region for the bank, says Shepard, who was Arvest’s executive vice president and sales manager in Fort Smith, Ark., prior to coming to Springfield.
“Our style of business is that we attack the market with acquisitions and organic growth, and we built the company around the idea of convenience,” Shepard says, citing 12-hour days and a replicated recognizable design of Arvest branches.
There were just three associates at Arvest’s first Springfield branch, 1435 E. Bradford Parkway. Branson became part of Arvest’s Springfield region in 2008, and now, the bank’s southwest Missouri operations encompass 65 associates at seven branches.
The latest local branch addition for Arvest was opened in 2010 at 730 N. National Ave., a 6,500-square-foot Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Gold-certified facility.
It was the second sustainable branch for Arvest bankwide, and the first in Springfield.
With an estimated cost of $1.8 million, the branch features sustainable landscaping, cisterns that collect water for irrigation and reuse, and motion sensors that help cut
down energy use.
“When I moved here from Fort Smith, one thing we were doing differently here was partnering with the community on the concept of becoming more environmentally friendly,” Shepard says.
With bankwide assets of $11.5 billion as of June 30, and Springfield metropolitan statistical area market share of 0.2 percent as of March 31, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Arvest is still expanding locally.
In January, Arvest closed on six acres at the northeast corner of Fremont Avenue and Republic Road, with plans to build a full-service branch at the site.
On June 6, Arvest broke ground for a new bank at 3184 E. Sunshine St. Plans call for a 3,953-square-foot branch built to LEED standards, likely incorporating features such as an on-site recycling center and a bioswale that collects rainwater for filtration.
“We want to be a good corporate citizen,” Shepard says. “We want to grow the community.”
Arvest’s role in the community also includes aiding local nonprofits supporting efforts to meet local needs. In 2010, the bank sponsored a ReHabitat build through Habitat for Humanity, providing funds and volunteer labor to rebuild a home for a local family.
With its Million Meals campaign, a two-month initiative launched April 1, Arvest raised enough food and cash donations for 1.2 million meals. Locally, Arvest branches raised 41,488 meals — through cash donations, selling paper plates for $1 apiece and collecting nonperishable foods — with the food and money going to Ozarks Food Harvest and Christian Action Ministries.
Shepard said the food drive is an example of how Arvest’s community impact comes from more than providing banking services such as mortgages and small-business loans.
“We have to be engaged in what’s going on,” he says. “We have to give back.”From the 2011 Economic Impact Awards publication