March 18 will mark the 75th anniversary of an ambitious group of nine that came together in the mid-1940s to provide financial services to the people in northern Greenville County.
It all started with $36,000 in assets and a building at the corner of McElhaney Road and Highway 276, according to the bank’s website.
Over the years, that $36,000 has grown to over $1 billion, says Bank of Travelers Rest chairman and CEO Bruce White. White’s father started the bank in 1946 and attributes the success of the bank to the Travelers Rest community.
“Sometimes you’re very fortunate to be located where you are located,” says White.
The success also comes from the employees, he says, noting with a laugh that most of the banks’ leadership have been at the bank for decades.
Across Bank of Travelers Rest’s 10 branches, there are about 150 employees. Those employees have been crucial, says the bank’s leadership, in sustaining the bank during the pandemic.
Tom Britt, the bank’s president, says they’ve been fortunate through COVID-19. “We’ve done everything we can to protect our customers and protect our employees,” Britt says.
He adds that the success is also bound to the bank’s new offerings to meet their customers face to face, such as opening accounts via the drive-thru instead of making customers enter the bank.
“Quite frankly, we’ve been able to deliver all the products and services that we normally delivered throughout the pandemic, without fail and without exception,” says Britt.
At the end of the day, bank leaders say it’s the relationship with customers that has been the cornerstone to continued growth — 30% alone over the past year.
To maintain that relationship, company employees gets involved in various ways — from watching customers’ kids play sports to just being available in person. “We never want to stop seeing our customers,” says Eddie Fewell, the bank’s chief credit officer. “We went through some challenges, but we didn’t close our lobbies, we didn’t shut our customers out.”
Jay Edwards, the Bank of Travelers Rest’s chief financial officer, says, “We can be reactive because we listen to what our customers need.” Because the bank’s leaders are located in the community themselves, they get feedback from customers directly.
“We are a community-based bank,” says White. He says that the bank is a small business and that their “bread and butter out there locally is local businesses.” There’s a mutual understanding there, he explains.
“So we can certainly relate to them — their problems are our problems, and sometimes we have the same problems they’re faced with.”