When Pennsylvania-based York Federal Savings and Loan Association decided to expand into Maryland, contiguous Harford County seemed a natural first choice.
"As far as we're concerned, a state line is a very imaginary divider in terms of financial services," said Robert W.Pullo, York Federal's president and chief executive officer. "It's ameaningless barrier."
The York-based firm plans to open full-service branches in ForestHill and Bel Air this fall. Although a ground-breaking ceremony was conducted earlier this week, construction isn't expected to begin until later this month.
Harford's proximity to Pennsylvania wasn't the only draw for York Federal Savings and Loan Association. The county's stable and growing economy also appealed to the firm, which operates an 18-branch office network throughout South Central Pennsylvania,Pullo said.
The September opening of the Bel Air and Forest Hill branches, though, won't be the firm's first foray into Maryland. The firm has loaned millions to residents across the state and operates abranch, formerly a loan production office, in Annapolis.
Pullo said, "We've been lending in Maryland for a long time. Because we've been providing that much in residential lending, we felt we should alsobe a deposit taker."
He said opening two branch offices in Harford County represents a major commitment to the local community.
"Wewill be offering a full range of quality and innovative services andwe will look for every opportunity to better satisfy the financial needs of those in the community," Pullo said. "We are looking forward to becoming an integral part of the local area."
The branch offices, to be located at 2006 Rock Spring Road, Forest Hill, and 1816 Emmorton Road, Bel Air, will each consist of 2,500 square feet and will feature a cupola with York Federal's logo type. The buildings will have brick exteriors and double drive-in lanes.
Pullo declined to divulge the cost of the projects. He also said he didn't know how many workers the branches would employ.
Pullo said the firm chose to open two branches at the same time in the county because the population demographics show it would support two branches. He said there are not many banks in Harford with headquarters just 30 miles away.
"We also recognize it as an area that needs good banking alternatives," Pullo said. "We're more hometownish, more neighborly."
Moving into Harford also will allow York Federal to take advantage of local media, including newspaper, television and radio, which are able to hit a large population area. To reach a large audience in Pennsylvania often requires advertising in more than one newspaper or broadcast station.
"We can get a lot more mileage for our advertising," Pullo said.
Pullo described York Federal Savings and Loan as a healthy survivor of the nation's savings and loan crisis. York Federal has been able to succeed because it has not gotten too diversified.
"We are here because we are specialists and experts," Pullo said. "We're dedicated to what we're doing well."
York Federal Savings and Loan Association is the largest, locally owned, independent financial institution headquartered in York County. It is the principal subsidiary of York Financial Corp., a thrift holding company with assets in excess of $837 million.
For the six months ending Dec. 31, 1990, York Federal share holders earned about 90-cents a share or a total of about $3.2 million. Total revenue for the six months was about $40 million.