When The Bank of Glen Burnie officials offered Michael L. Derr a jobas assistant vice president, they didn't offer him the keys to the executive wash room. In fact, they didn't even offer him an office.
That's how crowded the 40-year-old community bank was in 1989. People were working everywhere, from the two-story building's basement to small cubicles on the first floor. They didn't know where to put Derr.
"They said they'd love to have me but they didn't have an office for me," Derr said last week. "I lived out of my briefcase for a few months."
Eventually he moved into an office with vice president Dorothy A. Abel. But officials also promised him a new office in an oldbrick Colonial Revival the bank was converting into extra space. Thebuilding is just a few doors down from the bank's main office on Crain Highway. Derr moved into his new office last year.
But the bankstill needed more room. That's why officials are instituting phase two of the bank's expansion program, which involves demolishing an oldcedar shingle home behind the renovated structure and replacing it with a two-story, 9,100-square foot Georgian Revival building. The demolition-construction project is expected to cost $1 million.
The bank's operations department -- including the data center and the human resources and bookkeeping departments -- will move into the building when it's completed in December.
"We haven't been able to grow the way we've wanted to because we had no more room," bank president Henry L. Hein said. "We're just finally getting around to doing it."
Construction workers will demolish the old home today. Officials will break ground on the new building Wednesday. The ceremony will involve County Executive Robert R. Neall and other dignitaries. But bank officials also have invited several community residents to join in the celebration, because Derr says they are the reason for the bank's continued prosperity.
While larger banks are failing, the Bank of Glen Burnie is thriving. Last year, the bank increased its deposits by10 percent and posted a 10.2 percent growth in assets. For the past two years, the bank also has been named a Blue Ribbon Bank, an industrywide award based on data supplied by the Federal Reserve Board.
Derr shies away from calling his bank's prosperity unusual.
"Most community banks are doing well," Derr said.
Because they don't lend the big bucks for large commercial ventures, such as office building construction, they're not as vulnerable as the larger commercial banks. The Glen Burnie bank's loan customers consist of individuals andsmall businesses, such as a local contractor renovating an old Victorian home across from the site of the new bank addition.
"We offersafe and stable alternatives for customers, Abel said. "People are interested in safety and stability. Even if our interest rates are higher, people say that they're going to come anyway because they want their money to be safe.
"We're a small community bank in a small area and we're a friendly, good customer service institution."
Continuity and stability are the cornerstones of this independent Glen Burnie bank. Several employees, including Abel, have worked there for years. Abel started with the bank in 1963, when it had only two branches. It now has four, including Odenton, Pasadena, Crownsville and Severn. Since John Demyan Jr. and Frederick W. Kuethe founded the bank 40years ago, the bank has named only three presidents.
Bank officials also include small amenities at each bank for customers. Each branch, for example, includes scales and working fireplaces. Employees atthe Odenton branch keep the fire going each winter because customerslike it, Derr said.
"We're quite comfortable being a community bank. We don't want to grow and compete with the large commercial banks."