(2006 – 2013)
This is the story of a company bucking anti-consumer trends in a quickly changing industry. This is the story of a bank focused on people before profits and relationships before returns. This is the story of your hometown, friendly bank – Adams Dairy Bank.
The bank was founded on the cusp of the largest financial collapse in 70 years and built a strong foundation despite devastating economic times. In Adams Dairy Bank’s early years, the economic situation of this country and its citizens was shaky. Businesses and consumers tightened their budgets while reeling from the effects of the financial crisis. Banks struggled for stability and made cuts. Large and small banks started charging fees for what had traditionally been free services. Many institutions sacrificed customer service to retain profits. In reaction to this trend a new breed of banks developed to counter the depersonalization of banking and to reestablish relationship banking across America. Blue Springs is home to a young and successful example of this developing banking counterculture.
Adams Dairy Bank, which recently celebrated its seventh birthday, grew up to provide an “udderly fun” banking experience. While over 50 U.S. banks failed in 2012, Adams Dairy Bank added customer service representatives, served thousands of hot dogs to Blue Springs residents, and gave hundreds of hours of service to the local community all while continually increasing profits. The bank’s reputation for individualized customer support and community service is unparalleled in the local Blue Springs area and a national rarity. However, this success did not come easily.
The Founding of Adams Dairy Bank
Adams Dairy Bank gained its Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) charter on January 3, 2008, but its story begins over a year before. In 2006, George W. Bush was halfway through his second term, Herm Edwards had just taken over the Chiefs, over 55,000 people called Blue Springs home, and the idea for Adams Dairy Bank was conceived.
At this time, Blue Springs was growing rapidly along the Missouri Highway 7 and Adams Dairy Parkway corridors. The city’s development was in full swing and the construction of new shopping centers, neighborhoods, and restaurants was underway. What Blue Springs didn’t have was a true community bank. In fact, Blue Springs had relatively few banks at the time.
“There were two to three times the number of banking locations in Lee’s Summit as in Blue Springs. Lee’s Summit wasn’t that much bigger,” said David Chinnery, President, CEO and founder. Blue Springs was heavily invested in its high schools, youth athletics, scouting, and community, but no bank existed to match those priorities.
“You used to see everyone in the parking lot of Blue Springs Bank before a Friday out, when that was bought out some 20 years ago, Blue Springs didn’t have a place like that anymore,” remembered Brad Scott, Board Chairman.
David recognized this void. A long-time resident of Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit, he was deeply involved with Boy Scouts, Rotary Club, and other area organizations. He had dreamed of buying or creating a relationship-bank since the turn of the century, and the new developments in Blue Springs provided a special opportunity. In late 2006, David met Stan Ricketts, President of Capital BancCorp Midwest and chairman of two banks. David discussed his idea for a relationship-bank based in Blue Springs and Stan strongly supported the idea.
Capital BancCorp and the First Board (Late 2006)
David was Branch Manager at First Community Bank in Lee’s Summit when he met Stan. David was a natural leader, deeply involved in the local community and excited to take on the challenges of being a bank CEO and president. Stan worked for Capital BancCorp, a bank holding company that specialized in creating and supporting local banks under local control. By 2007, Capital BancCorp had helped over 40 community banks open their doors across the country.
Capital BancCorp provided backroom support (auditing, software, IT, payroll, and other services) that allowed local executives to focus on their customers and vision. David and prospective investors liked the idea of retaining full control of the customer experience while benefiting from Capital BancCorp’s support. The partnership provided a good mix of what Adams Dairy Bank values: modern technology and efficiency alongside traditional community banking.
Capital BancCorp agreed to provide capital and support and David gathered a group of local directors committed to bringing what would become Adams Dairy Bank to Blue Springs. He sought business leaders intimately involved with the community and local economy. The initial board included Craig Brandon, David Chinnery, William “Bill” Essmann, Gregory Jacobson, Cathy Lincoln, Craig Montgomery, Stan Ricketts, Brad Scott, and William “Bill” Wrisinger.
Stan Ricketts served as the first Chairman of the Board and brought a wealth of banking experience. Bill Essmann managed Adams Pointe Conference Center and was the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce President. Craig Brandon was co-owner of a large, local construction firm and had a strong accounting and entrepreneurial background. Craig Montgomery was a real estate agent and a large residential property owner in the Kansas City area.. Cathy Lincoln and Gregory Jacobsen were entrepreneurs in Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs with years of experience founding and growing companies. Bill Wrisinger was a property developer in the Blue Springs area and the owner of various businesses across the area. Brad Scott was Regional Administrator of the General Services Administration with deep political experience at the state and national level. Directors came from a variety of backgrounds and had a community focus in common. All of the directors lived and worked around Jackson County, and a majority of them attended local schools. Local ties and unique expertise gave the Adams Dairy Bank team a special understanding of the economy, as well as the loan and deposit environment in which it would operate. The board was set and now it was up to David to assemble a team.
Forming the Team (Early 2007)
David set out to form the Adams Dairy Bank team starting with his colleagues at First Community Bank. He immediately knew that Cheyanne Reed, his longtime banking associate and friend, would be a strong asset for the new bank. Cheyanne was David’s first boss in his banking career and they had worked together for over a decade. Her experience in banking, her energy, and her integrity compelled David to seek her as a leading partner. She was hesitant at first, but David was persistent.
“You know David; he can be very convincing… I also never thought I would have an opportunity like this,” said Cheyanne. She joined the team in early 2007.
Duston Weisenborn was a junior at the University of Central Missouri (UCM) when he was recruited for the Adams Dairy Bank team. He worked at First Community Bank under David as a teller while studying finance in Warrensburg. He was juggling 30-hour work weeks with being a full-time student his junior year. Duston’s role at First Community Bank expanded as time went on, and he eventually became a loan officer.
David recognized Duston’s great personal skills and strong work ethic.
“I thought he was joking when he asked me to start a bank,” recalled Duston. David was not joking. “A few days before we left First Community, David came to me and asked if I wanted to leave to start a new bank. I said ‘yes.’ He said to go home and think about it. I walked away and came back five minutes later with a firm ‘yes.’” Duston helped form Adams Dairy Bank as a junior at UCM and became a founding member before graduation.
The day after David, Duston, and Cheyanne left First Community Bank, they entered the “war room” to start building Adams Dairy Bank.
The “War Room” (2007)
On February 21, 2007, David and Duston picked up a folding table and chairs to furnish their new office and met Cheyanne at Summit Bank in Lee’s Summit. Summit Bank was a Capital BancCorp bank that had offered the trio a small room where they could plan the future bank.. That small room became known as the “war room,” and hundreds of decisions made there influence Adams Dairy Bank to this day.
The room was sparse. There was one desk and comfortable desk chair that were quickly claimed by Cheyanne. Duston and David shared the folding table and chairs. The walls were plastered with easel papers displaying potential loan customers, deposit customers, board members, and bank principles. While the FDIC considered Adams Dairy Bank’s application, the three shared a phone and communicated by post-it notes (dubbed “emails” by David) in the office.
Due to the constraints of the “war room”, meetings with potential customers and shareholders took place in homes, restaurants, and parking lots. Cheyanne remembered her visits to meet with shareholders fondly. “Selling stock in the bank. Carrying a copy machine in my car, getting lost trying to find a customer’s home or workplace, eating chili with the guys at the firehouse, and walking into a fast food place feeling like I was going on a blind date. Some of my favorite memories are times from the earliest days. I always told the prospective shareholder I would be the one with a white orchid in my hair.”
When banking questions would arise, Duston would present them to his professors. “I was still a student at the time and would ask my professors really specific questions about banking while in class,” he recalled. Duston would leave UCM, change into work attire, and call David daily to figure out whom he needed to meet and what he needed to collect on his way to the office. The team was constantly on the move.
The team worked in the “war room” until late 2007. While awaiting FDIC approval to be granted, Adams Dairy Bank moved out of the “war room” and into a second story room in a poorly climate-controlled warehouse for military testing equipment.
The Ultrax Months (January 2008 – April 2008)
Two FDIC approved banks could not reside in the same building and so David began searching for alternative locations outside of Summit Bank. Director Cathy Lincoln offered David and the team a room in the Ultrax Aerospace diagnostic equipment testing office/warehouse in Lee’s Summit. The team accepted and began moving in while preparing for approval. It was a busy holiday season for David, Cheyanne, and Duston. The bank purchased a vault, a coin-counting machine, a server, and all the other essentials needed to provide full service to customers.
Adams Dairy Bank received FDIC approval to open on January 3, 2008, and became a fully accredited bank. The “cash cow” was finally on the move. Fourteen million dollars of loans were immediately transferred from longtime customers of David’s to Adams Dairy Bank and the bank was off to a quick start at its temporary warehouse location.
During the Ultrax Aerospace months, the bank expanded quickly. Tania Harrison was added as a customer service representative. She recalled, “The thought of my office at our temporary location always makes me laugh. My office was a little bit bigger than our current bathroom. I had a desk, two computers, a printer, the vault, a coin-counting machine, two Fire King Cabinets, and the server, all in that small space. The server made a humming noise all day long and put off some major heat.”
Customers still received visits to accept deposits, sign loans, and perform business at a variety of locations. “We always offered to meet the customers because we thought for sure they wouldn’t bank with us if they saw our temporary office,” explained Duston. “One day a couple called us and they were at the warehouse. We came out to meet them, sure we wouldn’t get their business, but they listened to our ideas and we ended the day with two new customers.”
The final preparations for the building on Adams Dairy Parkway were completed in March 2008. The ATM and drive through were built into the side of the building and the office layout was decided. Furniture and equipment were installed as the move-in date neared. But there was a problem. Within a week of the deadline for an approved and perfected plan, the developer came back with an unsatisfactory draft. Despite many conversations, the plan was not meeting expectations. Duston remembered the team’s response: “We downloaded a trial version of some building planning software. Printouts had a watermark and the trial program would expire after just three days. We were up to the last second of that free trial period finishing the bank layout and sent the watermarked copy to the developer.” It was exactly what the developer needed and the office was ready for business just in time. On April 15, 2008, all systems were put in place and the office opened. Adams Dairy Bank was now near the growing Adams Dairy Parkway corridor.
Why Adams Dairy ‘Bank’ Parkway?
Back when the bank was still a distant concept, David Chinnery and Bill Wrisinger, future Board Chairman, spent hours searching Blue Springs for the best location. The location needed to be easily accessible to customers, have high visibility, and be large enough to fit with the bank’s growth projections.
“As soon as I saw the empty land off I-70 and Adams Dairy Parkway I liked it,” stated David. “When we ran the traffic and exposure numbers it just made sense.” The location allowed for easy access from I-70, Missouri 7, and Adams Dairy Parkway. It was visible to potential customers and was a convenient location for a 24-hour ATM.
Capital BancCorp initially pushed for a more traditional location suited for commercial clients, but David and the board were convinced that the Adams Dairy Parkway and Coronado Drive location represented a special opportunity to work with customers and interact with the community. By 2008, Adams Dairy Bank had a contract for leasing the east side of the building and installing an ATM. The location was within a mile of major new shopping developments in Blue Springs. Once Adams Dairy Bank began operating near Adams Dairy ‘Bank’ Parkway, there was immediate, incredible growth.
Growth on Adams Dairy Bank Parkway (March 2008 – April 2008)
The location was worth the wait. In March 2008, the month before the Adams Dairy Parkway location opened, Adams Dairy Bank added only nine new accounts. In April, the bank opened another 53. The location provided a huge boost to the bank and the “cash cow” entered a growth spurt. By November, six months after opening on Adams Dairy Parkway, the bank had 525 accounts. Lending was growing particularly fast. Loan totals had doubled from the number the bank had at January’s opening. Almost all loans were made to local customers, citizens of Blue Springs and surrounding areas. Alongside the bank’s growth, the team grew as well. Matt Owings became vice president and chief credit officer, Katie Jackson joined as a customer service specialist, Kevin Vogt was hired as a credit analyst, and Matt Clark came on board as a teller.
Adams Dairy Bank wasn’t the only thing growing. Blue Springs was blossoming, too. Money Magazine ranked the city as one of the “Top 100 Places to Live in the U.S.”. Families flocked to the growing Kansas City suburb, lured by affordable housing and schools with stellar reputations for some of the highest math and reading scores in Missouri. Residents enjoyed an expansive city park system and low property taxes. Businesses opened in the area to meet the growing population’s needs.
The Early Years on Adams Dairy Bank Parkway (April 2008 – May 2009)
The 2008 financial crisis hit less than a year after the bank’s founding, a setback that would prove challenging for banks throughout the country. Hundreds of banks failed in the coming years and even the largest banks struggled to maintain solvency. The importance of conservative banking was brought into focus. The principles on which Adams Dairy Bank was founded were tested.
Stan Ricketts served as chairman of the board and, along with the rest of the board and executive team, led the bank through the worst of the crisis. Adams Dairy Bank developed correspondences during this time to increase its lending ability and available funds. JPMorgan Chase, Midwest Independent Bank, the United Bankers Bank, and The Independent Bankers Bank were all added as correspondent banks and many remain important Adams Dairy Bank partners today. (A correspondent bank increases lending capacity to borrowers and opportunities for a bank to expand relationships while mitigating regulatory concerns and risk.) The bank received its Federal Reserve Intraday Credit Designation during the early years, which enabled it to borrow federal funds overnight. David was nominated as the Blue Springs area’s Outstanding Business Person of the Year in 2008 for his work with the community and the bank.
Community service has always been an important part of the Bank and the first year at Adams Dairy were no exception . Hot Dog Saturdays started in 2008 and Duston began giving bank tours to Boy and Girl Scout troops. Every Saturday from Labor Day to Memorial Day, Adams Dairy Bank served hot dogs to anyone who stopped by and asked for one. Since 2009, Adams Dairy has given away thousands of hot dogs to community members. On other Saturdays during the fall and spring, the bank welcomed hundreds of Boy and Girl Scout visitors interested in how banks work.
Through these early years Adams Dairy Bank focused on expanding its value to customers. The bank implemented Real Time Processing (RTP) in early 2009 to make budgeting and money tracking easier for customers as they faced their own personal economy-related issues. RTP updates customers’ available credit immediately after expenditures to make online banking more useful. This also increased security of accounts to counter identity theft and other dangers. New technologies to support customers were supplemented by new strategies to reach potential customers.
In 2008, Adams Dairy Bank hired EAG Advertising & Marketing to develop a marketing strategy for the Jackson and Lafayette county area. The Bank, with EAG, began producing newsletters in spring 2009. These newsletters include “David’s Two Cents,” an editorial by the bank’s CEO in which he communicates the bank’s mission and goals and how the current economic environment affects the community. They also feature valued customer profiles, community event information, and an overview of important happenings at the Bank.
In January 2009, Adams Dairy reached $30 million dollars in loans and held more than 200 loans to local customers. The bank doubled in size since its opening and became a feature of the Blue Springs community. Stan Ricketts and Capital BancCorp were essential in this early and rapid growth but it soon became apparent that full local ownership was necessary to achieve the level of community involvement Adams Dairy Bank desired. In May 2009, Stan left the board and Bill Wrisinger became chairman. A series of internal changes were initiated for Adams Dairy Bank to become a locally owned bank under Bill’s chairmanship.
Becoming a Fully Local Bank (May 2009 – October 2011)
Since the bank’s founding, Capital BancCorp was the bank’s majority shareholder. Capital BancCorp had been instrumental in the bank’s formation, but they were not locally based. David and the directors determined that buying out the holding company, becoming 100% locally owned, and partnering with local firms would enhance the bank’s integration into its community. “It became clear that we were better able to serve our customers if we ran everything in house,” explained David. “Full local ownership and full control of our backroom operations allowed us to better pursue our objective: personal relationships with customers and the community.”
The process of turning Adams Dairy Bank into a locally owned bank began in 2009 and lasted until August 30th of 2010. The process was time consuming and difficult, but very worthwhile. The bank’s fall newsletter announced that the Bank was entirely locally owned and all profits would go straight back into the bank. Despite many changes behind the scenes the transition away from Capital Bancorp did not slow the bank’s growth and by mid-2010 the bank had more than 1,000 deposit accounts.
Bill’s chairmanship also oversaw many changes to the board and the Adams Dairy Bank team. Tania Harrison and Matt Owings left the bank and Duston Weisenborn and Kevin Vogt assumed larger roles. Kevin became the assistant vice president and comptroller and Duston became an assistant vice president in addition to his loan officer role. New shareholders, participants in the buyout of Capital BancCorp, became new board members.
Adams Dairy Bank welcomed Young Sexton and David Kim to the board of directors. Young, owner of Wingate Travel and a Kansas City area investor, shared her knowledge and experience founding and leading multiple companies in Kansas City. David, a Kansas City-based attorney and Harvard-educated businessman, provided important feedback on policies and decisions in a changing regulatory environment. Both have served as important advisors. Also key in the Capital BancCorp buyout was a new investment from Carrollton, Missouri-based Carroll County Trust Company.
In October 2011, Bill left the board and was replaced by Brad Scott as chairman. In Bill’s two years, the bank became fully locally owned, completely in control of its own processes and backroom procedures, and considerably more influential in Blue Springs. In recent years, Adams Dairy Bank has relied on its independence and community involvement to achieve rapid growth under Brad Scott’s chairmanship.
2012 and Beyond
On October 12, 2011, Brad Scott became the chairman of the board. Brad was former regional director of the General Services Administration and had just finished leading a very large lake development project in Milan Missouri. By the end of October, Adams Dairy Bank had 250 current loans and was well on its way to 1,500 deposit accounts. Adams Dairy Bank customers, much like many of the board members, almost all resided in or near eastern Jackson County. The vast majority of new account and lending customers were referrals from within the community who had taken notice of Adams Dairy Bank’s commitment to and involvement in the community. However, this reputation has spread to other neighboring Kansas City areas like Clay and Johnson Counties.
This success sparked an interest in expanding the team to enhance customer service for the bank’s growing customer base. By June 2012, the bank was lending $40 million worth of loans to local customers. During this period the Bank’s regulator changed from the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Following this Adams Dairy Bank made the strategic decision to convert to a State Charter Bank, since these institutions fall more in line with Adams Dairy Bank’s locally focused mission and operations.
In September 2012, Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, appointed David to the Investment Advisory Committee made up of investment professionals and bankers from around the state.. The appointment was a badge of industry-wide acceptance and gave him another opportunity to work with investment professionals in the area. “The banking and investment community benefits greatly from working closely with the Treasurer’s office and I appreciate the chance to be a part of that process,” stated David. The position also allowed David to gather ideas to provide better service to customers and better profitability to shareholders.
Changes continued into 2013. In April, the bank added Steve Giles as executive vice president and chief lending officer. Steve was a founding member of Freedom Bank in Overland Park and has spent his career in community banking. He helped the bank pursue new funding sources and better ways to support its communities through lending. Growth projections are high and Adams Dairy Bank is looking forward to a strong future under David, Steve, and Brad’s guidance. Perhaps more importantly, Adams Dairy Bank is fulfilling its true mission to serve the community via relationship-banking. According to a recent biannual customer satisfaction survey, customers overwhelmingly believe personal customer service and friendly bank associates are most important to them. And they ranked Adams Dairy Bank “excellent” when compared with other banks. For the 10 most important attributes customers seek in their bank, Adams Dairy Bank has earned an “excellent” rating.