Commerce Bank celebrates 150 years
Institution holds record as oldest bank in Barry County
This year marks 150 years Commerce Bank has been in business, and its 128th year in Barry County.
Going from a single bank in Kansas City to 195 branches across five states, the bank's history extends back to the Civil War era when America's infrastructure was still being developed.
In 1865, Francis Long started the first bank in Kansas City with $10,000 in capital. A figure which, by today's inflation calculators, equates to just over $152,000 in 2014.
Cassville has two Commerce locations, both on Main Street, and the location on the courthouse square has been in operation for 128 years. Barry County residents have been going to the bank to deposit money, cash checks and utilize financial services since 1887. Commerce holds the record as the first banking institution to organize in Barry County.
"The first 88 years we operated as Barry County Bank, until we were purchased by Commerce Bank in 1975," said Mike McCracken, market president. "We have enjoyed the last 40 years as Commerce Bank. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the entire company."
Today, the Commerce Trust Building in Kansas City houses the company's corporate headquarters. In such a highly-competitive market, McCracken said the institution has three tenets it holds dear.
"Commerce joins an elite group of financial institutions that have been in business for 150 years, and we put a lot of time into thinking about how we got here," McCracken said. "We concluded that the three tenets of our success are strength, community and innovation. Our story over the past 15 decades is how the people who have worked for this enterprise have served their customers, shown leadership in their communities and helped this region grow and prosper. Both the work and the sustained values are what have built the Commerce Bank of today."
McCracken said another way the bank stays ahead is through its customer service.
"Commerce Bank's goal is to be the preferred provider of targeted financial service in our communities based on strong customer relationships," he said. "We strengthen these relationships by providing the right solutions that combine our technology, experience and financial strength."
McCracken offered a summary of the strengths and strategies that have contributed to the bank's longevity.
"Our financial strength comes from taking a long-term view and building lasting relationships," he said. "It has allowed us to persevere and our financial strength comes from taking a long-term view and building lasting relationships. It has allowed us to persevere in difficult economic times and reward our shareholders. That growth has enabled the bank to raise its regular cash dividend every year for the past 47 years.
"Our lasting belief that a bank is only as strong as the community it serves, is why we work hard to bring value to our customers, support our region's economies and help make our communities better places to live."
McCracken said innovation also plays a big role in the institution's history.
"Innovation at Commerce has been about always looking forward, and building on past successes," he said. "Yesterday's answers won't solve today's challenges. In the latter half of the 1960s, for instance, Commerce became a national leader in helping retail customers conduct transactions electronically with consumer credit cards. Fast-forward to today, and Commerce is a national leader in development of innovative commercial payment systems. That spirit of innovation has been a constant at Commerce."
McCracken said the company has a customer promise to ask, listen and solve.
"It's not just its brand, but also its corporate focus," he said. "With this platform, Commerce is continually building its long-term franchise and providing award winning customer service and knowledge of our customers and markets. Commerce Bank is recognized as an industry leader in financial services and has consistently won awards and high marks for innovative product offerings, customer satisfaction and sound money management.
"Commerce provides a diversified line of financial solutions to individuals and businesses in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma and Colorado. Solutions include business and personal banking, trust and brokerage, cash management international banking and capital market services."
In step with its values, the bank also puts its money where its mouth is by giving back to the community, and it has a history of doing so in Barry County.
The bank recently donated a total of $2,000 to the Cassville Community Foundation, Crowder College and the Cassville Senior Center.
"Each year, we donate our time and money to non-profit organizations in and around Cassville," McCracken said. "We take great pride in the fact that we have been able to offer financing solutions for the City of Cassville, Barry-Lawrence Regional Library System, E-911, South Barry County Ambulance District, South Barry County Hospital District, Cassville school district and numerous churches and organizations throughout Barry County. Many of our employees serve on committees and boards to help serve organizations such as Rotary, Cassville Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Development Corporation, Cassville Community Foundation, P.A.C.E. and South Barry County Hospital District, just to name a few."
McCracken has been with Commerce for nine years as market president, and has served 15 years on its local advisory board.
"I enjoy most the wonderful relationships we have with our customers and our employees," he said. "It's been great to bring all the products and services that you get with the large banks in this country to the small community markets such as Barry County."
Debra Mitchell, who works at the downtown branch on the square, has been with Commerce Bank for 41 years, and as a result, has experienced a lot of changes within the banking industry.
"I started with Barry County Bank as a bookkeeper before we became a part of Commerce Bank," Mitchell said. "I currently am vice president/branch manager of both Cassville branches. I enjoy helping our customers handle their financial needs. Being able to offer them a wide range of products and services and being here for them is what I enjoy most. I'm so glad Commerce Bank is a part of our community, and I feel blessed to work with such a great team."
For more information about Commerce Bank or any of its financial services and products, people may call 417-847-4111 or 417-847-2101.