In a world where the American economy seems to be increasingly ruled by big corporate financial institutions, many small community banks have found themselves either struggling financially or out of business. Luckily for the good citizens of Port Richmond, Port Richmond Savings Bank isn’t one of them. In fact, PRS Bank held a Centennial Celebration in Campbell Square yesterday to commemorate its 100th year in business.
“There’s not a lot of banks that have been around for 100 years,” said Tom Werynski, the bank’s vice president of lending. “The reason we’re here is because of our customers and how we treat our customers.”
So why not throw them a party? The event will took place from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
“We picked a Sunday when the Eagles play in the evening, so we don’t have to worry about that conflict,” said Werynski.
“We’re doing it, obviously, as a thank you to the community, to our loyal customers and, of course, to let everybody know we’re still here, we’re thriving and we’d like to pick up more customers and have them enjoy what we’re providing for them,” he said. “We’re very excited about it.”
It’s not uncommon for employees to work at the company for large swaths of time. Werynski himself has worked at the company since 1986.
“Personally for myself, it is a complete source of pride,” he said.
In addition to Werynski, the bank’s longtime office manager and new accounts representative, Sue Dylinski, just retired in May after 30 years with the bank. Her favorite part about work was interacting with customers.
“It’s definitely the personal touch,” she said. “When people come into our bank, they know everything’s confidential. They want to do business with a neighborhood bank. We know so much about our customers, it’s a riot. Sometimes they tell us too much.”
Both Werynski and Dylinksi have seen many changes at the bank during their times working there. When each was hired, the bank was called Windthorst Warsaw Savings Association.
“I personally was answering the phone every day and saying Windthorst Warsaw Savings, and then having to say and then having to spell it to all the people calling,” Werynski said. “So one, that got a little grating.”
But that wasn’t the only reason for the name change. According to Werynski, many people began to assume that you had to be German or Polish to open an account at the bank. It was that moment when Werynski knew something needed to change.
“When those people started saying you have to be German or Polish to open an account, I went to the board and said we needed to do something,” said Werynski.
As a result, the bank became Port Richmond Savings Bank in January 1991.
“We took the bank’s name of Port Richmond Savings, and that was a great source of pride,” said Werynski. “I’ll be 56 September 1st, and I’ve been here my entire life. I’ve never moved outside the area. I walk to work, which is priceless. On my walks going back and forth, I’m quoting rates to people, I’m giving them advice on things they should do, whether it’s IRA-related or loan-related, refinance – any of those types of things.”
Since 1987, Werynski and the bank’s president, Sidney Smith, have been the bank’s executive officers in management. In 1987, the bank had $7.5 million in assets and four full-time employees. Today, its assets are approaching $80 million, with 10 full-time employees, three of whom also walk to work.
“We look for local people who are known in the area and we love that friendly atmosphere,” Werynski said of the bank’s employees. For Werynski, the secret to the bank’s success has been “maintaining our small-bank charm,” while “also giving big-bank products and services and delivery channels.”
“Whatever the technology is, Sid is making sure we’re keeping up with it the same way big banks would,” said Werynski. “If we’re giving everything that the big banks and credit unions and all of our competition gives and then we gives that extra, ‘Hey, you can come here because we know you, you know us. Why would you go anywhere else?’ ”
In addition to the celebration event at Campbell Square, PRS Bank announced that its century in business will also be marked by beer. According to the bank’s loan department manager, Josh Mooney, “an anniversary beer for our 100th celebration” will soon be present at bars around Port Richmond.
“We contracted with a brewer out in Lancaster called St. Boniface Craft Brewery, and they designed a pre-Prohibition lager, so it ties in well with turning 100 years old because it’s a 100-year-old-style beer,” said Mooney. “It’s definitely a crowd pleaser-type beer and something I think the neighborhood will respond to really well.”
According to Mooney, the beer will be available to purchase in cases somewhere around the price point of $25 to $30. It’ll be distributed out of ABV Beverage on Richmond Street and some other select distributors throughout Port Richmond.