Citizens National Bank recently acquired five Bank of America branches in Texas, one of which is located in Huntsville, merging customers and employees.
Although Bank of America and Citizens National Bank entered an agreement in September 2014, the acquisition of clients and locations did not take place until earlier this week.
While some find the change in the banking industry to be beneficial to the Huntsville area, others are not as pleased.
Joqueleana Feliciano, senior psychology and criminal justice double major, was surprised when she came home from being out of town for a month and was not able to use her card. Although Feliciano had received a new card from CNB with an explanation about the change, she had unknowingly dismissed it as solicitation.
“It’s an inconvenience, but at least they’re trying to do something and to help,” Feliciano said. “They are supposed to close at 3 p.m. today and now they’re going to extend that time to 5 p.m. to make sure that everyone that was with Bank of America is being taken care of. I mean it is a bit of an inconvenience, but they took care of everything that I would have had to do by myself. So it is kind of a plus and a minus.”
Citizens National Bank is a $1.6 billion independent community bank headquartered in Henderson. The organization has 30 branches in east and central Texas and is headed by President and CEO Brad Tidwell.
“Bank of America decided to sell these five branches,” Tidwell said. “We saw this as a great opportunity for us to continue to grow and to expand our company and to some extent, expand our footprint. We’re a growing company and it was something that made a lot of sense for us. Huntsville is the kind of community we like to be in, it’s a good community, and it’s got a good economy. We like communities that are growing and certainly Huntsville and the area around Huntsville are growing, so we thought it made a lot of good sense for our business.”
In addition to the Huntsville branch, CNB also acquired two branches in Lufkin, one in Corsicana and one in Mount Pleasant. This is the second CNB location in Huntsville.
“A lot of it has to do with growth and the makeup of the customer base,” Tidwell said. “Huntsville is a good, middle-income market, people like using our services and we think Huntsville was the perfect fit from a size perspective. The really large banks like Bank of America don’t want to be in these communities anymore that’s why they’re selling. We do want to be in these communities, we think it’s more difficult for us to compete in the really big cities sometimes, so we see our niche working better in small to midsize communities.”
According to Tidwell, both CNB and Bank of America communicated to customers about the change through traditional mail as well as email over the last four months leading up to the acquisition. Tidwell said that customers affected by this change included Bank of America clients who regularly dealt with the local Huntsville Branch.
One stipulation of the agreement the two organizations entered into was that CNB would keep 100 percent of the Bank of America employees in all five newly acquired locations. According to Tidwell, the company has complied with the terms.
In addition to seeing familiar faces at CNB, clients will also be offered similar products and services offered to them previously through Bank of America. Additionally, CNB plans to hire lending officers at each newly acquired branch as well as extend the hours, which previously were 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with Bank of America.
“I think [customer service with us] is different, not necessarily better or worse, I would call it different,” Tidwell said. “Our approach is a little more hands on, so I would say from that perspective, just a little difference in the time we’re open, availability and access to the branch.”
Like Feliciano, senior kinesiology major Gabriel D’Antoni also saw that change as an inconvenience.
“It’s a big mishap,” D’Antoni said. “I didn’t receive any emails, I got a letter that said I had three new checks that came in from Citizens National Bank and didn’t really know what that was…I figured out this whole thing was a mishap and I don’t know, it is very frustrating.”
Tidwell said he understands where those who find discomfort in this situation.
“I certainly understand any change is concerning and can be distributive, especially when you’re changing your banking relationship and we appreciate that fact very much,” he said. “But I really do think if people will give us a try, which I believe they will and we’re seeing that, I think they’ll be very happy with us over the long term.”
According to Tidwell, being an independent community bank comes with benefits he hopes the community of Huntsville will enjoy.
“We are very local-oriented,” Tidwell said. “We get involved in the community, we give back to the community, we do things in the community and that’s a little harder for some of the larger institutions to do.”