Those who have walked into the BCT bank branch office in Purcellville since it opened for the first time Monday morning were likely greeted by some familiar faces.
The Purcellville branch is the second the Bank of Charles Town has opened in Loudoun and is part of an aggressive expansion that will spread the BCT logo across the county in coming years.
While the bank may be new to Loudouners, many of its bankers are not. That starts at the top with president and CEO Alice P. Frazier, who took that post just one year ago. She has been a leading bank executive in Loudoun for 27 years, serving as CFO and COO at Middleburg Bank, senior vice president and area executive for BB&T, and then executive vice president and COO at Cardinal Financial Corp.
Over that same quarter century, FDIC records show Loudoun-based deposits grew from less than $850 million to more than $6.5 billion. That hot banking market fueled numerous bank startups and mergers. Last year’s mergers of Access National Bank and Middleburg Bank, and United Bank and Cardinal Bank are the latest shake ups in the local banking landscape.
Frazier said those changes have left consumers hungry for a community bank that is focused on customer service—a core principal of BCT for 147 years.
“At the end of the day, it’s about the people—who are the best bankers in the community?—and having them join your vision and your strategy,” Frazier said. “With all the disruption, we’ve been able to attract people who believe in community banking and want to serve the community.”
Even though Frazier has been able to hire some of the market’s best known veterans—including Stephen Cowen, formerly of Atlantic Coast Mortgage and Middleburg Bank, who will lead BCT’s mortgage banking division in a new office in Leesburg; and Katheryn “Kitty” Kearns, who formally served as Middleburg Bank’s executive vice president of commercial lending—there’s an extensive interview process for all new employees. Before they’re hired, they’ll be asked to meet with six or seven people to make sure they’ll fit with the bank’s culture. “We don’t want just people. We want the right people,” Frazier said.
Founded in 1871, only 229 banks older than BCT are still owned by local shareholders, mostly individuals—some of whom trace their involvement back generations. BCT, which has five branch offices in West Virginia and one in Maryland, opened its Middleburg office in 2013. In 2017, following the unexpected death of the bank president, the bank board found itself at a crossroads that could have ended its century and a half of independence. Instead, the board endorsed a growth strategy that included a heavy investment in Loudoun County. The announcement of a Leesburg branch office is expected soon, followed by one in the Ashburn area.
But, Frazier said the pace of that expansion won’t be driven as much by real estate decisions as much as ensuring the right staff is available.
“The customer experience is really important to us. But for the customer experience to be good, the employee experience has to be really strong as well,” she said. “A bank is a bank. It’s really about the bankers that we have and the way that people feel. Are they welcomed? Are they treated with respect—no matter who you are, no matter what size your account balances are.”
Frazier sat down for an interview with Loudoun Nowlast Thursday, a day after she and her staff walked in Purcellville’s July 4th parade to introduce themselves to area residents lining Main Street and just days before the new bank branch’s soft opening. While the staff was in the lobby putting furniture and decor in place and making appointments with customers they’ve worked with at other institutions over the years, Frazier reflected on what it meant to finally put the expansion plans in motion.
“I was thinking about being a banker in the market for 27 years and seeing the growth and then being able to come back and bring a bank to the market—this style of banking—I know the community wants and desires,” she said.
“It’s going to be a hit. People are really anxious of a real community bank,” assured Bryan Decker, another industry veteran who just signed on as the bank’s senior vice president and director of marketing.
The Purcellville office is located in the Catoctin Corner shopping center near the intersection of Rt. 287 and East Main Street.