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Sugar River Bank Appoints New Corporators

Sugar River Bank is pleased to announce the recent appointment of four local individuals to the Board of Corporators:  Darryl Parker, Joseph Burns, Terri Crate and Ann O'Clair. 

Darryl Parker is the owner and operator of Schoodacs Coffee Shop in Warner, NH.  He is also the CEO of Parker Web, a North Carolina web hosting and maintenance company for small businesses. 

Joseph Burns is a broker/partner of Coldwell Banker Lifestyles with offices in New London, Sunapee, Eastman, Hanover and Warner. 

Terri Crate is the Vice President/Senior Retail Loan Officer at Sugar River Bank with over 32 years of bankig experience. 

Ann O'Clair also works at Sugar River Bank as its Vice President/Chief Financial Officer.  She previously owned Mill Stream Structures Inc with her husband. 

Sugar River Bank Renovates Sunapee Branch

     SUNAPEE — Construction has begun on an 1,800-square-foot renovation project that will add innovative features, an Internet café, and improved energy efficiency at Sugar River Bank’s Sunapee branch.

The renovations are designed to “meet the expectations of banking in the 21st century,” according to a press release from Raymond, New Hampshire-based Jewett Construction Co., which is partnering with the NES Group, a bank design firm out of Massachusetts.

Sugar River Bank President and CEO Mark Pitkin said in an email on Friday, May 5 that as a local community bank, Sugar River Bank takes pride in providing the most up-to-date banking facilities to serve its customers.  

“We believe that the ongoing capital investments in our branch offices is testament to the bank’s loyalty and commitment to serve our communities for the long haul,” Pitkin said.

The Sunapee branch project will include some of the most innovative components of delivering bank services, such as teller pods and the Internet café, according to Pitkin.  

“Once the project is complete, we invite all who are interested to come in and visit the completely renovated space,” he said.

The renovation project will include a “complete cosmetic makeover,” including drywall, flooring and millwork, according to the construction company.

The building, at 541 New Hampshire Route 11, will also be updated to meet codes, increase energy efficiency and improve customer experience.

The project is expected to be completed in time for the summer tourist season, and is underway while the bank remains fully operational, all according to Jewett.

Sugar River Bank has been offering service to citizens of New Hampshire since 1895. The bank first opened its doors in Newport, and has grown to six locations.

After more than 100 years, the bank is still locally owned and operated. Along with Sunapee, the bank has branches in Newport, New London, Grantham, Warner and Concord, and an Intelligent Deposit ATM in Bradford.  

Story by Tory Jones Denis, Eagle Times.

Sugar River Bank Offers Equity Builder Program

Joe Conway Wins Award

Sugar River Bank is pleased to announce that our very own, Joe Conway, has been awarded the 2016 Commercial Lender of the Year by the Capital Regional Development Council.  This award is presented to the commercial lender that has produced the highest dollar volume collectively with the CRDC.

Mr. Conway is our Vice President of Commercial Lending with more than two decades of experience in his field working with both large and small businesses.  He also works closely with CRDC’s Senior Loan Officer, Elizabeth Sweeney and Loan Officer, Jennifer Boulanger. 

“Joe deserves this award because of his continued commitment to his banking customers.  He introduces our financial options such as our SBA 504 Lending or other financing products to his customers,” says CRDC’s Stephen Heavener.

"Joe is a direct link to CRDC's financial success this year and we applaud him for his strong commitment to not only us, but ultimately to his banking customers."

Above:  CRDC's Jennifer Boulanger with Joe Conway, Vice President of Commercial Lending at Sugar River Bank and CRDC's 2016 Commercial Lender of the Year. 

Spotlight on Business by the InterTown Record

Mark Pitkin Appointed to New Committee

NH Banker Appointed to the American Bankers Association’s Mutual Bank Administrative Committee 

  Newport – Mark Pitkin, President and CEO of Sugar River Bank in Newport, NH, has been appointed to the Administrative Committee of the American Bankers Association’s Mutual Institutions Council for the 2016-2017 association year.

The Council, which is made up of more than 100 mutual bankers and is governed by a 15 member administrative committee, meet twice a year to discuss the critical issues affecting mutually-chartered institutions. Members of the Administrative Committee convene in between Council meetings to provide guidance and recommendations to ABA on a number of legislative and regulatory concerns relating to mutual institutions.

 “It is an honor to be part of this committee and shed light on the unique issues affecting mutual institutions all over the country,” said Mark Pitkin, President and CEO. “This appointment gives me the opportunity to address the needs of our community and help keep these banks a viable part of our industry.”

Mr. Pitkin has 24 years of banking experience. He attended the University of New Hampshire where he earned a Business Administration degree as well as his MBA.  He also serves as the Director and Treasurer of the New Hampshire Banker’s Association, Director of the Community Bankers of NH. and Director of Banc Alliance

ABA’s Mutual Institutions Council is open to representatives of any ABA member institution in mutual form, including institutions within mutual holding company structures.

Sugar River Bank has an asset size of 281 million, with 6 locations in Newport, Concord, Grantham, New London, Sunapee and Warner.          

Sugar River Bank Annual Meeting

Sugar River Bank Holds Annual Meeting

Newport, NH – Sugar River Bank is pleased to announce the recent election of its Corporators, Board Members and employee promotions.  

At its 121st annual meeting held on April 20th, in the Sugar River Bank Community Room, the Bank said good-bye to two retiring board members:  The Honorable Brackett Scheffy, a retired judge at the Henniker District Court and The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Lynn Perkins, of Perkins Hardware (retired). 

Mr. Perkins, a resident of Warner, owned his own store, Perkins Hardware from 1983 until his retirement in 2003.  During that time, he joined the Board of Directors in 1990 and became Chairman of the Board of Director’s and Trustees in 2013.  Both he and Mr. Scheffy will be missed from the Bank. 

The Bank is very pleased to announce the naming of Dr. Richard Holmes as the new Chairman of the Board.  Dr. Holmes was elected to the Board of Corporators in 1982 and then to the Board of Directors in 1985.  He established a successful dental practice in Newport and retired after 31 years.  Dr. Holmes has served as the Past President of the Newport Rotary Club, was a member of the Grafton-Sullivan Dental Society, served on the board for the Newport Chamber of Commerce and active with the South Congregational Church in Newport. 

The Bank welcomed John H. Bates Jr., Manager of 603 Technology Services, LLC, Susan B. Dunton, President of New Hampshire Technical Institute’s Concord Community College and Newton H. Kershaw III, CEO of Elm Grove Companies to the Board of Corporators and Rob Daley, President of IBS, to the Board of Trustees. 

The following employee promotions were also announced at this time:   Stephen G. Smith, Vice President of Information Technology, Christine Heath, Mortgage Origination Officer, Michelle, Duford, Loan Servicing Officer, Dori Petrin, Deposit Operations Officer and Leighann King, Branch Manager of the Newport office.  

Mark Pitkin, President and CEO, stated “Sugar River Bank is saddend by the retirement of Honorable Brackett Scheffy and the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Perkins, but very honored to welcome Dr. Holmes as the new Chairman as well as these distinguished members to our Board of Trustees and Board of Corporators.  Congratulations to our valuable employees on their well-deserved promotions.” 

CRDC Joins Sugar River Bank, the City of Concord, and Merrimack County Savings Bank to Provide Financing for a Major Redevelopment in Downtown Concord

CRDC Joins Sugar River Bank, the City of Concord and Merrimack County Savings Bank to Provide Financing for a Major Redevelopment in Downtown Concord

With its partners, Capital Regional Development Council (CRDC) is proud to announce that financing is in place to restore a prominent downtown building, which dates back to 1870. After years of inattention, the building known as the Vegas Block, will soon be renovated, for first floor commercial usage, and the upstairs featuring residential units.  

The City of Concord's public investment in the Downtown Complete Streets Project has again yielded significant private investment in the downtown.  Soon, with the help of four financing participants, its prime contractor and its owner, downtown will see further improvement to its Main Street, with the recreation of this building as a mixed use building, with 20 residential units and 3 commercial units.

The restoration of this building, to be known as Remi's Block, has been the vision of the owner of the property, Remi Hinxhia, a well-known local businessman in Concord.

Remi, his sister Theodhora and their family noted, "We are delighted and proud that this day has finally come." He also noted that with hard work they own a part of historic downtown Concord, "We are dedicated to making our part of downtown Concord better for all citizens now and for generations to come. We want to thank all of our team members, friends, and business colleagues that helped to put this project together. With the help of all my team and family the acquisition of the Vegas Block became reality. It was felt that the restoration of this historical building from its dilapidated state would add to the overall renovation of Concord's downtown re-development. Now that the construction of Remi's Block is a reality I am grateful for the work completed by all those who are participating in this project and look forward to its completion."

The construction financing was unusual as it required the collaboration of four entities, with Mr. Hinxhia, to make the project work.  Sugar River Bank took the lead in structuring a financing package with CRDC, the City of Concord Revolving Loan Fund Program and Merrimack County Savings Bank, in combination, to provide for the restoration costs.  This sort of financing structure is an example of economic development, which often requires a blending of several financing sources, to make a project feasible.  

"Sugar River Bank takes great pleasure and values the opportunity to have been able to join with our community partners to facilitate this project," said Joe Conway, Vice President, Commercial Lending, of Sugar River Bank. "We recognize the importance of renovating this historic building and the benefits it will provide to the City's long term strategic plan and vision for Main Street. The Bank feels that the teamwork demonstrated by our colleagues is the appropriate process, to achieve the shared goal of making a challenging project possible."

"CRDC is particularly pleased with the project," said Stephen Heavener, CRDC Executive Director. "As a mission based non-profit organization, CRDC was able to provide gap financing into Remi's Block, which will result in further revitalization in the heart of Downtown, along with the potential of economic benefits to the community. Liz Sweeney, CRDC's loan officer worked diligently with the borrower and the other financing entities. This is a perfect example of how CRDC can provide gap financing and assist in getting a deal to work."  

Local contractor, Cobb Hill Construction is overseeing construction.

"Cobb Hill Construction is delighted to have been chosen for this project", said Jerry Kingwill, Cobb Hill's President. "We have a long history of working with the City of Concord, local property owners and financial institutions to renovate and restore historic buildings. We are particularly proud of our work on Main Street, where we have completed several award-winning projects. Having the opportunity to be part of a team that has the vision to revitalize one of Concord's oldest buildings, is the kind of challenge Cobb Hill sees as the right thing to do for the community. The structure is in tough shape, but when completed, the work will breathe new life into the building for many years to come."

Restoration of older buildings often requires the collective efforts of a number of financing participants, who cooperate toward the shared goal of making the project possible.    

"Redevelopment of the Remi Block will remove a long-term prominent blight and foster creation of additional market rate housing, both of which are critically important to the vitality of our downtown" said Tom Aspell, City Manager.  "The City is proud to partner with CRDC, Sugar River Bank, and Merrimack County Savings Bank on a financing package to get this project done." In addition to being part of the financing package, the City provided special property tax incentives, valued at more than $300,000, to help make the project viable.

Construction is anticipated to be completed in November 2016.

Sugar River Bank Pledges Support for the New Newport Health Center

New London, NH – New London Hospital (NLH) announces that Sugar River Bank (SRB) has made a $25,000 pledge to support Building for Health, NLH’s project to rebuild its Newport (NH) Health Center. This support, approved by SRB’s Board of Trustees, was formally announced by SRB’s President and CEO, Mark Pitkin who said, “We are committed to the community and strongly believe that the construction of a new health center is a critical part of sustaining the health and vitality of our town and its residents.” In recognition of this gift, the new building’s café will be named by SRB.

Additional donor naming opportunities are available for contributions of $5,000 or more. Donor commitments to the project to date exceed $670,000, with $350,000 of this amount pledged from the Roy Malool Family Foundation. The balance is from 100% commitments from NLH Trustees and senior staff and employees of the Newport Health Center; several Newport businesses and organizations; and a growing number of individual donors.

Construction is on track with completion expected by fall of 2016. The current health center will remain open through construction to continue to care for the community uninterrupted.

To review naming opportunities, to contribute to the campaign or for more information about the project please call 603.526.5373 or visit www.newlondonhospital.org/buildingforhealth.

Merchant Processors will begin processing EMV Chip Cards effective October 1, 2015 to avoid liability

Sugar River Bank announces Travis Craig as Loan Officer in the Newport Office

Newport, NH – Sugar River Bank is pleased to announce the recent hire of Travis Craig to the position of Loan Officer. With over 15 years of banking experience, including 10 years of consumer lending, Mr. Craig will primarily serve consumers in the Newport/Claremont area.

Mr. Craig, of Boscawen, is very excited to help his clients reach their goals, whether it is buying a new home, purchasing a new car or camper, or debt refinancing.  He has been involved with the Henniker Chamber of Commerce, Concord Young Professionals, and the White Birch Community Center in Henniker. He also enjoys his time playing sports and has participated in the Concord Men’s Basketball League for many years.

Mark Pitkin, President and CEO, stated that “Sugar River Bank is fortunate to have Travis as our newest lending team member in Newport.  He has a great personality and will work very hard to meet the specific needs of his customers.  With his many years of banking experience and lending knowledge, he is a valuable asset to the organization.” 

Sugar River Bank Announces VP Promotions and Retirement of CFO

Newport, NH – Sugar River Bank is announcing the retirement of Steven Thibodeau, Senior Vice President and CFO/COO, on June 26th, 2015.  Mr. Thibodeau has been with the Bank for 38 years and has played an integral role in the success of the institution.  He was appointed VP and COO in 2000 and CFO in 2002.  In 2010 Mr. Thibodeau was promoted to Senior Vice President.  Mark Pitkin, President and CEO, stated that “Steve will be greatly missed.  He has dedicated his entire career to the bank and to the communities in which it serves.”  An active member of the Newport Rotary Club, he has spent many years volunteering and giving back to those communities. 

Sugar River Bank is pleased to announce that Ann O’Clair has been promoted to Vice President, CFO.  Ms. O’Clair has been with the Bank for 9 years, starting her career in 2006 as Financial Operations Specialist.  She graduated from Keene State College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management and recently from the New England School for Financial Studies.   She is slated to graduate from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking in June, 2016.  Ms. O’Clair is a member of the Financial Managers Society and has more than 30 years of business and accounting experience.  She resides in Goshen, NH with her husband Doug and currently serves as treasurer of the Goshen School District.

The Bank is also pleased to announce the promotion of Tina Blythe to Vice President/Retail Administrator.  Ms. Blythe has been with the institution for 17 years and has served as Assistant Vice President/Branch Administrator since 2009.  She is a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies and is slated to graduate from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking in June, 2016.  Ms. Blythe served many years on the board of the Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce as the Treasurer and currently volunteers for several local organizations.  She resides in Lempster, NH with her husband Peter.  Mark Pitkin stated “Ann and Tina are both well deserving of their promotions and the Bank is fortunate to have such dedicated, knowledgeable, and hard-working employees”. 

Sugar River Bank announces Newly Elected Corporators and Board Members

Newport, NH – Sugar River Bank is pleased to announce the recent election of Corporators and Board Members.  

At its 120th annual meeting held on April 15th, in the Sugar River Bank Community Room, the Bank welcomed Robin Wells, Jeffrey Graham, James Duris and Gary Coffin to the Board of Corporators and Robin Wells and Derek Lick to the Board of Trustees. 

Jeffrey Graham is a CPA and the Managing Officer of Graham & Graham, P.C with NH offices in Concord and Laconia.  James Duris is the COO/Controller of Concord based Foxfire Property Management.  Gary Coffin is the Director of the Accredited Real Estate Academy and past Founder, President, and CEO of Horizon Settlement Services, Inc, Concord. 

Robin Wells is a principal and founding member at Carew & Wells P.L.L.C., Concord.  She is a CPA with more than 20 years of public accounting experience and is the President Elect of the New England Graduate Accounting Studies Conference and Commissioner of “Volunteer NH!”

Derek Lick is an attorney with Sulloway & Hollis P.L.L.C., Concord.  He is Chairman of the Board of the Kearsarge Council on Aging (COA).  Mr. Lick was also appointed, by Governor Lynch, to the Transportation Advisory Committee for the State of NH. 

Mark Pitkin, President and CEO, stated “Sugar River Bank is honored to welcome these distinguished members to our Board of Trustees and Board of Corporators.  Each new member is excited to serve the depositors of the bank and to support the communities in which we serve.” 

For First Time in 22 Years, Sugar River Bank Adds a Branch, This Time in Concord

Visitors mill about at the grand opening of Sugar River Bank in Concord on Friday. (IAIN WILSON / Concord Monitor staff)

Sunday, May 10, 2015 
(Published in print: Monday, May 11, 2015)

Newport-based Sugar River Bank celebrated its grand opening in Concord last week, marking the bank’s first new branch in 22 years.

The sparkling 35,000-square-foot flagship branch on Loudon Road could look like a change in strategy for Sugar River, which has thrived by operating in five small communities with a combined population that is about half of Concord’s. But the new branch is the next logical step and a continuation of the bank’s plan to zero in on the community banking market along Interstate 89. Sugar River also has branches in Grantham, New London, Newport, Sunapee and Warner.

“Concord really just follows our strategy. It was just a matter of when we would do it,” Mark Pitkin, president and CEO, said in an interview Friday.

“Before the banking landscape changed completely to incorporate a significant amount of burdensome regulations, banks could locate in smaller communities and they would be profitable in smaller communities,” Pitkin said. This was the setting that brought them to this point, but as banking has changed due to technology and regulation, even the small community mutual banks have had to adapt.

“We never wanted to grow for the sake of growth, but now we have reached a point where even these types of institutions have to grow. You have to increase the size of that pie,” he said.

Concord is the right spot, albeit a competitive one, with at least a dozen bank branches downtown and along the Loudon Road corridor. Sugar River is doubling down on what Pitkin called its value proposition: a hometown banking feel accessible in a larger living area. While most other banks would contend they offer the same, Pitkin said Sugar River is uniquely positioned.

“When people say, ‘Why Concord? There are so many branches and so much competition,’ ” he said, “there are a lot of banks but not a lot of competition from our standpoint because of our value proposition.”

The bank began shifting well before its arrival in Concord.

Until 2007, the company was doing business as Sugar River Savings Bank. It dropped the “savings” aspect to reflect a shift to full-service banking dedicated to the needs of retail and business customers. In 2011, it formed a mutual holding company, bringing in more corporate flexibility and preserving the mutual form of ownership as it remains the sole shareholder in the bank. It has also tried to capitalize on the desire of hometown community banking amid a challenging economy.

The bank has grown its commercial lending portfolio in recent years, an area where Concord might make more sense than a small community.

“If we were in a small rural area that didn’t have a big piece of the pie, it might not support this type of investment,” he said. “But Concord – this is where it makes perfect sense.”

The new building will be staffed with seven full-time employees to start. The new location stands in contrast to a trend among larger banks, who have begun exploring “microbranches” with smaller footprints, fewer tellers and a big dose of technology. This model might work for some of the bigger banks, but it doesn’t necessarily fit the model for a community bank like Sugar River, Pitkin said.

“We would not have the same impact to the community if we came in a 900-square-foot bank that we included in someone else’s building,” he said.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com or on Twitter@iainwilsoncm.)

Sugar River Bank announces Branch Manager for New Concord Branch

Newport, NH – Sugar River Bank is pleased to announce the recent hire of Colette Garside-Conway to the position of Branch Manager at its new branch in Concord, NH. With over 18 years of banking and lending experience in the Concord area, Ms. Conway is a great asset to the branch located at 198 Loudon Road. 

Ms. Conway, of Concord, has been involved with the local community for years, participating in town youth athletic programs, Junior Achievements, Make a Wish Foundation, and Kids Café.  She also enjoys giving her time for community revitalization projects and Day of Caring Outreach in Concord.  She is pleased to be a part of a community focused bank that strongly supports her continued volunteerism and community service to the Concord area.  With Ms. Conway’s experience, combined with the rest of her Concord team, the branch represents over 100 years of serving bank customers.  The team is knowledgeable, friendly and committed to providing superior customer service. 

Mark Pitkin, President and CEO, stated that “Sugar River Bank is excited to begin its new journey in Concord with Colette leading the way.  She has lived and worked in Concord for many years and is committed to serving the community.  She is focused on bringing what Sugar River Bank is all about to Concord – local, committed, hometown banking.” 

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Sugar River Bank Brings Hometown to Downtown

Sugar River Bank was recently featured in the Jan/Feb issue of Banking New England.  Click here to read the article.  

Merchant Processors will begin processing EMV Chip Cards effective October 1, 2015 to avoid liability

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