Business feature: Western Bank to offer new services, facility

By Celena Cordova: PNT staff writer

The dirt plot with dried grass that lies between Prudential Master Properties and Ray’s Lube Center on North Chicago is not just another piece of land.

It is the future home of the Portales branch of the Western Bank. The Portales branch has been open 12 years, and it’s currently located at 203 S. Main St.

A new year, a new future

Executive Vice President Connie Connolly said plans for the new building have been put on hold because the local economy has been somewhat slow due to the transition of Cannon Air Force Base.

However, Western Bank is hoping to begin construction sometime in 2009. Connolly said the bank has developed floor plans, but not settled any contractor bids.

More services to come

The current location does not have adequate parking or drive-up facilities, Connolly said. The future building is also planned to have automated teller machines and safety deposit boxes, which the current facility does not have.

Attracting new customers with technology

Portales has a younger customer base due to institutions such as Eastern New Mexico University, Connolly said.

“Young people like the benefits of technology to do their banking,” she said. “They like the convenience of using an ATM.”

What sets this bank apart from other banks?

“I think the personalized service,” Connolly said. “For example, when you call Western Bank, you get a real person. You don’t get an automated-type answering service.”

Not just another face in the crowd

Connolly said Western Bank is a locally-owned business that is “very sound, very well capitalized.”

Because of the economic crisis, larger banks have been tightening up on their credit, but she said Western Bank has money to lend. Employees have started promoting holiday loans.