Dowagiac resident Rich McCormick makes a deposit at the new branch of Chemical Bank in Dowagiac. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)
Dowagiac resident Rich McCormick makes a deposit at the new branch of Chemical Bank in Dowagiac. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Chemical Bank officially open in Dowagiac

Published 8:05am Monday, March 24, 2014

For the bank’s Dowagiac members, the opening of Chemical Bank’s new downtown office was a highly anticipated event.

In fact, the bank had only been open for seconds before its first customer walked through the doors.

“He came at 9:02, and the first words from his mouth were, ‘thank God, you’re finally here,’” recalled Manager Joe Silvia. “People have been waiting a long time for this.”

Though the bank, which is located on Commercial Street, officially opened its doors to customers last week on Monday, the new branch office held a grand opening ceremony Friday morning, attracting local dignitaries like Mayor Don Lyons, City Manager Kevin Anderson and City Council Member James Dodd.

“It’s a huge get for us,” Lyons said. “Chemical Bank is a good fit for Dowagiac.”

Opening a branch office in the city accomplishes one of the goals the company’s board of directors set for the bank, said Tom Grant, president of the Niles community bank.

“One of the markets they said we needed to be at was Dowagiac,” Grant said.

Chemical Bank is comprised of several community banks across the state of Michigan, with the Dowagiac branch being part of the greater Niles location.

Chemical has been working to open the office since October, after they purchased the former location formerly occupied by Bank of America at auction.

Though the bank already has one office in the Sister Lakes area, the opening of the office downtown places them in the heart of the city’s business district. In addition, it provides a more convenient location for many of the city’s members, Grant said.

“Many of the staff already live here in Dowagiac, so it worked out well for them as well,” Grant said. “Instead of having to commute to one of our other offices they can work in the same place they live.”

One of those hometown employees is Silvia, who was born and raised in Dowagiac. As the manager of the office, Silvia oversees its five employees.

“We’re very pleased by the traffic we’ve seen since we’ve opened,” Silvia said. “I don’t know the exact number, but there’s been a steady flow of people coming since Monday.”

One of the advantages that sets Chemical Bank apart from larger national chains is its approach to face-to-face service, Silvia said. Though the company employs modern technological services such as online banking and mobile check deposit, the staff excels at dealing with customers personally, he added.

“We like our customers to come in and see us to get the personal service we can provide them,” Silvia said.

It’s this focus on customer service that attracted Silvia to the job more than four years ago, he said.

“Chemical was the perfect fit for me,” Silvia said. “Their kind of people-focused banking is the kind of work I want to be doing the rest of my career.”

Despite its young life, Silvia said the outlook is strong for the new branch office.

“The numbers are very promising so far, and we haven’t even started to get going yet,” he said. “We’re just starting to crawl. Soon we’ll be walking, then jogging, then we’ll be in a dead run.”

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