It all started in 2008, when a few local businessmen and businesswomen thought it would be a good idea to start a community bank to serve the needs of small- and mid-sized companies in the county. An assorted group of business people—from owners of funeral homes and restaurateurs to former Chase executives—banded together and, in three months, were able to raise more than $22 million, all from individual investors. Shortly thereafter, they broke ground in Yonkers and began their operations out of two construction trailers while their headquarters were being built. Now, The Westchester Bank has two branches—its original on Central Avenue, and a second branch recently opened on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains.
In an economy in which many banks have gone belly up (or have gone to the federal government, tin cup in hand), The Westchester Bank has prospered. In just three years, the nascent bank has attracted 2,600 customers, while amassing a quarter-billon dollars in total assets. This past year alone, the bank has increased its total assets, deposits, and loans outstanding—all are up more than 30 percent from the previous year. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that community is the basis of our success,” says President and CEO John Tolomer. Instead of decisions being made by strangers in another state hundreds of miles away, the buck stops and starts at the branch office. “As local people, we understand our customers’ banking needs,” Tolomer says.
This past summer, the bank raised just under $27 million in fresh capital. In addition, it is looking to open four additional branches in the next four years. “The future is very exciting,” Tolomer says.