First Bank Financial Centre (FBFC), a full-service, community bank that has served southeastern Wisconsin since 1859, has originated more than $1 billion in loans in the past three years. During that time, it has also added six new locations, including a recently opened second branch in Brookfield.
The bank’s surge in lending, footprint growth and subsequent increase in employees necessitated a four-story, 25,000-square-foot addition to its 36,000-square-foot headquarters at 155 W. Wisconsin Ave. in Oconomowoc.
According to the bank’s president, the project is a testament to the institution’s community banking values.
“We approach everything on a local basis. We know our customers individually and are focused on delivering high quality service and meeting their specific financial needs. And, we hire top talent whose leadership and involvement in our communities contributes to our growth and success,” says Mark W. Mohr, president and CEO of First Bank Financial Centre. “We’re a bank that uses local deposits to fund local businesses that in turn contribute to the vitality and quality of life in the areas we serve.”
In 2013, FBFC surpassed other institutions to become Wisconsin’s number one Small Business Administration (SBA) lender overall and, with more than $100 million in SBA loans, the bank notched its second largest lending year in company history. Among community banks in the state, it ranked in the top five percent in total mortgage volume last year and has been the top community bank SBA originator for the past five years.
To help encourage the revitalization of main streets and local downtowns, in 2010 the bank established a Business Loan Pool Program that provides low interest funding to area businesses. The program is now available in six communities – Brookfield, Mequon, Grafton, Hartland, Menomonee Falls and Oconomowoc – and has led to the opening, expansion or improvement of nearly two dozen businesses.
In addition to increased lending, this winter the bank began offering its customers a more robust portfolio of financial planning services and insurance products through Summit Street Wealth Management. And, this July the bank grew its presence in the western suburbs of Elm Grove and Wauwatosa with the opening of its second Brookfield branch at 12600 W. North Ave., bringing its retail locations to 12.
The headquarters expansion allows FBFC to bring all its corporate employees back under one roof and eliminate the need for “creative” office space. Seven departments, including the executive management team, quality assurance, marketing, commercial lending, commercial processing, credit analysis and deposit operations, were previously spread out.
“We really were bursting at the seams. The larger space gives us the opportunity to create a new, efficient layout and workflow that fosters a culture of teamwork. It’s a space that will serve us for many years to come,” says Mohr.
With the expansion complete, FBFC is now one of the largest buildings in downtown Oconomowoc, taking up a full block. According to Mohr, staying in the center of the city was imperative.
“Downtown Oconomowoc is going through a revitalization and, as a community bank, we wanted to make sure we contributed to that momentum and economic growth.”
The expansion houses approximately 140 employees and includes two open floor work areas, four conference rooms, a multi-function meeting and conference room, training room, 15 offices, three executive suites and an unfinished space for future expansion. Employee amenities, such as an exercise room, four oasis rooms with beverage stations and vending options, outdoor patio and an expanded lunchroom, are also part of the new headquarters. An architectural glass tower with expansive views of Lac La Belle connects the bank’s existing building to the expansion.
Construction began last June with demolition of a detached drive through. The new attached drive through was re-sited to create more parking and a better traffic flow for customers. It also provided an open space where the headquarters expansion is now located.
TWP Architecture and VJS Construction Services led the expansion.
Headquartered in Oconomowoc, First Bank Financial Centre (FBFC) is a full-service community bank focused on meeting the financial needs of local businesses and individuals. The bank has served southeastern Wisconsin since 1859 and has 12 full-service branch locations and two loan offices covering Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington and Dane counties. The bank’s executive team and its 200-plus employees are committed to contributing to the success and vitality of the communities they serve.
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