| First Quarter 2013
What is your company’s most important commodity or service?
Our most important commodity is the service our employees provide to our customers. We strive to deliver a superior customer experience by offering services and trusted advice that, together, create extraordinary value.
Other than monetary, what is your company’s most important priority?
Again, this goes back to service. We believe maintaining a high level of integrity, passion and leadership at all levels of our organization results in the success of our customers, our employees, and our shareholders.
What has been some of the most important aspects of your success?
Developing relationships with customers that results in them viewing Emprise Bank as a trusted advisor is the single most important aspect. To have that level of a relationship, the customer must have confidence in the bank’s ability to meet their needs.
How many people does your business employ? How many of those live in Lawrence? Does your company encourage people to live in Lawrence? What is the benefit?
At present, Emprise employees 434 people statewide with 13 of those in Lawrence. We are a family-owned bank located in 23 communities throughout Kansas. We encourage our employees to live in the communities we serve as we feel it helps our employees better understand our customers and their challenges. It also provides a better opportunity for our employees to be involved in all aspects of the community.
How does your business make a positive impact on the Lawrence community?
Emprise has always encouraged community involvement and that is especially true in Lawrence. Presently, we have employees serving on boards at LMH, the Lawrence Arts Center, and the Boys and Girls Club. Other involvements includes the USD497 LEAP partnership, school site councils and other USD497 efforts, Kiwanis, Rotary, Leadership Lawrence, JustFood, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and many others. We absolutely believe that supporting the community is vitally important and that it takes a partnership of business, government, and academia to allow a community to thrive.
What is your (the bank’s) responsibility to the community?
Our responsibility is to provide banking services to the community but also give of our times and talents to benefit the community.
What would you change about doing business in Lawrence?
Specifically in Lawrence, and we’re making strides in this area, I’d like to see improvement in how all aspects of the community work together to make progress. Business, government, academia, non-profits can all do so much to
make Lawrence an even better place to live – but pulling together and finding common ground we can all agree upon will get us much further than being at odds with each other or focusing on our differences.
You operate in a very competitive industry. How have you managed to remain relevant and profitable?
We are fortunate that we have tremendous leadership in our company that is consistently focused on doing things better and smarter. Competition and an ever-changing regulatory environment is forcing our industry to re-think the best way we deliver goods and services while still maintaining a fair return for our ownership. Once again, we think the best edge we have lies within our people – employees, leadership and ownership.
How do you manage your day-to-day stress of business?
Somedays I manage it better than others. Just lean forward and get it done.
How do you reward excellent work performance?
Emprise has an excellent incentive compensation program that establishes goals and rewards performance. There is also reward in taking care of the customer and developing a relationship that causes them to think of Emprise as “their bank”. That’s the best reward!
How do you manage poor performance?
Primarily on-the-spot coaching. We have a variety of training opportunities within the bank as well but leading by example and helping our employees deal with daily challenges is most effective.
What is the biggest challenge you feel your company faces?
Banking has always been challenged with maintaining high expectations/standards in the face of competitive pressure. There is a constant balance between being flexible enough to meet your customer’s needs while also maintaining standards that are good for not only the bank but our customers. The single greatest challenge at this point in time is probably regulatory. There is an absolute need for strong, reasonable regulation but there is a tendency to “punish all for the sins of the few” or go overboard by imposing regulations that don’t result in better outcomes – only higher costs for business owners and consumers.
The other challenge would be one facing many businesses today – the aging of the baby boomers that make up a good portion of the management of our company. Gen X’rs and Gen Y’rs think, work and manage differently and we must adapt to that changing dynamic.
Over the course of your career, what has been the single largest change in the Lawrence business environment?
I’ve been in Lawrence 21 years and in banking 31 years. Certainly there has been a good deal of change on any number of levels. I think what impresses me most the evolution to where we are today as a community. I see a real desire for business, non-profits, our school district, our city and county governments and the University of Kansas and Haskell to work together to bring Lawrence to the “next level”.
What do you foresee as being the biggest challenge to the banking business? On a local level? On a national level?
The challenges lie within all of the issues we’ve discussed above. Adapting to changing employees, regulations, competition and customer expectations. That’s true locally and nationally.