Taneytown Bank seeks bigger share of market Analysts say president is behind 2 expansions

June 24, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Taneytown Bank & Trust Co., a small-town bank whose new president has raised its aspirations, is reaching for a share of the market in two fast-growing areas of the county -- Westminster and Freedom District.

Industry analysts and insiders say the aggressive stance of Taneytown Bank's Frank W. Neubauer, a former Columbia resident who took over as president and chief executive officer in 1994, mirrors the tactics of other savvy Carroll County banks whose deep local roots have grown stronger in recent years, nearly shutting large regional banks out of the growing local market.

Under Neubauer's leadership, the bank is opening another Westminster branch on Route 140 east of the Route 97 intersection in September and plans a branch in a small commercial center being developed on Magna Way in the county's airport business center on Route 97 north of Westminster.

The bank will have what Neubauer described as a central location at Englar Road Shopping Center and two offices at each end of Westminster.

It also has a branch in Carroll Lutheran Village complex for the elderly in Wakefield Valley.

Taneytown Bank searched for several years for a site in Eldersburg, Neubauer said. Unable to find one, its holding company, Monocacy Bancshares Inc., bought Royal Oak Savings Bank in December 1995. The move gave Taneytown Bank a branch near Wal-Mart on Liberty Road east of Route 32 and an office in Randallstown.

"We're also playing catch-up," Neubauer said, because the bank's long-established branches in Keymar and Uniontown don't get the kind of traffic he hopes to attract in Westminster. About 32,000 cars a day travel east on Route 140, he noted.

Taneytown is one of four local banks that dominate the Carroll market and that, so far, have managed to keep larger national or regional banks from muscling in. The others are Carroll County Bank & Trust Co., Union National Bank and Westminster Bank & Trust Co.

"I guarantee you [metropolitan banks] would love to be there in a bigger way," said Arnold G. Danielson of Danielson and Associates, a Rockville banking consultant. But in counties like Carroll and Frederick, where local banks dominate, the only way for others to move in is to acquire a local bank, "and they haven't wanted to be acquired," he said.

Mercantile Bankshares Corp., a holding company that owns Mercantile Safe Deposit & Trust Co. and 16 other Maryland banks, bought Westminster Bank in 1972. However, Westminster Bank operates independently, said Mark Pohlhaus, executive vice president.

"Our decisions are made here on Main Street, not at Mercantile in Baltimore," he said.

Carroll County Bank is the local 800-pound gorilla. According to Danielson's analysis of several years ago, the bank's market share is about 25 percent. Taneytown, Union National and Westminster Bank have about 10 percent to 15 percent apiece, he said.

"You start with such a dominant big bank," Danielson said. "Carroll [County Bank] is big enough to serve all but the two or three largest companies there, and those firms go to Baltimore."

Carroll County Bank's total assets as of May 31 were $557 million; Union National's, $218 million; Westminster Bank's, $237 million. Taneytown Bank had assets of $266 million as of Dec. 31, 1995, including the assets of Royal Oak.

"As Carroll County and Westminster grow, we expected it to become a more competitive environment," said Michael L. Oster, Carroll County Bank's executive vice president and chief operating officer.

The bank tripled the size of its Eldersburg branch last year, has converted many of its automated teller machines to drive-up machines, increased staff in its small-business lending department and added new management in the residential mortgage department, which Oster said "is going to be much more competitive."

At Union National, Dominic Pagio, the vice president and community banking manager, said he didn't want to create the impression that competition from Taneytown put Union National on the defensive.

"I think banking in general is becoming more competitive, not just in the county," he said.

Union National Bancorp Inc., the bank's parent company, is acquiring Maryland Permanent Bank of Owings Mills. Union National will open a new branch today at Klee Mill Road and Route 26, and is looking at sites in Taneytown.

The bank recently opened its 140 Village Shopping Center branch drive-through window at 7 a.m. to accommodate commuters. The Eldersburg branch drive-through window will be open from 7: 30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays "for the commuter base," said Harry Colson, vice president of marketing.

Union National added two new commercial loan officers, one of whom will focus on business lending in South Carroll.

Westminster Bank is moving into Mount Airy with a branch in the planned Peacock Center, the bank's 10th branch in the county. "Our branches are well-positioned, but we needed to be in that area," Pohlhaus said.

The bank will soon issue a check card that can be used anywhere that Visa cards are accepted, but it won't require a personal identification number, Pohlhaus said.

Like the other local banks, Westminster Bank is looking at software that would enable customers to bank from home through personal computers. But none has moved heavily into computer banking.

"I think that's where we're headed. It's going to be less paper-driven and more automated," Pohlhaus said. But, "we're still in the people business and we need to have a physical presence."

Pub Date: 6/24/96

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