David S. Yanigisawa (left), Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer, was one of the officers presiding over the grand opening celebration. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Dr. Henry Long, one of the iPad winners, poses with Thomas J. Shara, Lakeland's President and CEO. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Visitors to the branch enter their name into the drawing to win an iPad. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Local residents explore the inside of the new branch. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Former New York Yankee Great Graig Nettles signs an autograph. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Sussex County residents wait outside in between raindrops, to meet Graig Nettles. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Attendees at the event visit the various booths for food, prizes, and face painting, that Lakeland offered. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Ray Cordts, Vice President, Business Development of Lakeland Bank, helps WSUS 102.3 on-air personality Steve Andrews, and Patrick Lasslett, Vice President and Branch Manager, with prize drawings. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Event-goers take a chance on the prize wheel; a prize was given out with every spin. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Families enjoy the festivities at Lakeland Bank. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Lakeland Bank Introduces Its Newest Branch At Grand Opening Celebration
Saturday, September 29, 2012 • 7:13pm
SPARTA, NJ – In spite of cloudy and drizzly conditions, hundreds of area residents headed to the Sparta Town Center throughout the day to join in the kickoff celebration for Lakeland Bank’s newest bank branch, at 7 Town Center Drive today.
The branch replaces two branches in Sparta, with the one in Sparta Downtown (Route 181), having closed on September 14, and, the Sparta Avenue office also closed on September 28.
The Town Center Drive office officially opened on September 15.
“It’s a wonderful day, it’s a great turnout,” said Robert Nicholson III, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Propane, and member of the Board of Directors of Lakeland Bancorp Inc. since 2003.
Lakeland Bancorp is the holding company for the bank, which now has 47 offices in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, and Warren Counties.
Nicholson’s father, Robert B. Nicholson, Chairman of Eastern Propane, was one of the founders of Lakeland Bank, and is a Director Emeritus.
“We have a lots of accounts being opened,” Nicholson continued. “Yankee Great Graig Nettles is here, and lots of people are here getting autographs. We’ve heard lots of positive feedback with our new office.”
The new 5,000 square foot facility is a prototype state-of-the-art model for the bank.
“This branch is our new prototype,” Thomas J. Shara, President and CEO of Lakeland Bancorp, Inc., explained during an interview with The Alternative Press, “We’ll be using this in our existing branches. All branches will have an openness and feel, and there will be no barriers.”
Robert A. Vandenbergh, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, described more in depth about the bank’s design.
“We wanted a design reflective of what we’re trying to do,” Vandenbergh said. “We’re trying to become more personally engaged. We have established roles for employees. The person you start with is the person you finish with.”
Vandenbergh said the process becomes more engaging with the customers, and, tellers have their own “teller pods”, while Shara added there are private offices within the bank as well to conduct business.
“It’s the newest technology in banking, it’s the state-of-the-art facility, it’s revolutionary,” said Ray Cordts, Vice President, Business Development of Lakeland Bank.
The design of the bank has become more open as well, with a distinctive glass tower at the entrance of the branch.
“We’ve rebranded ourselves,” Vandenbergh continued, remarking about the bank’s logo, and motto, “’We’re simplifying banking.’”
The bank offers personal and business banking, online banking, ATM’s where deposits can be made any hour of the day, commercial lending teams, and 24-hour or less turnaround time on consumer loans.
On a community-geared note, Vandenbergh said within each town where branches are located (in addition to Sparta, branches within Sussex County are located in Andover, Branchville (2 locations), Newton (Downtown, and Bristol Glen), Byram, Franklin, Fredon, Hampton, Hardyston, Lafayette, Stanhope, Stillwater, Sussex/Wantage, Vernon, and Wantage), there are community calendars broadcasting events and activities happening within the towns where the respective branches are located.
“This is a new concept branch,” said Mark Fredericks, President of Fredericks Fuel and Heating Service, and Keil Oil, Inc., and Member of Lakeland Bank’s Board of Directors since 1994. “It’s a ‘people branch.’ It helps us become part of the community.”
Like Nicholson, Fredericks’ father John W. Fredericks was also a bank founder, and is a Director Emeritus.
And the community, in turn, celebrated with Lakeland’s new branch. A line throughout the day wound its way into the bank, to meet Nettles for autographs and photos. There were opportunities for prizes, including two drawings for an iPad, as well as Kindle Fire, for opening an Elite or Platinum Checking Account. There were prize giveaways with the spin of a wheel, from Teddy Bears, to pens and umbrellas, to tote bags and gift cards (each person who spun the wheel won a prize). WSUS 102.3’s Steve Andrews did a live broadcast from Lakeland Bank, and helped to announce prize drawings and giveaways.
There were free hot dogs, bagels, apple cider, donuts, cookies, beverages, and boxes of popcorn to snack on.
For children, the bank gave away 100 pumpkins, which children could decorate. A magician was also there to entertain the kids, and they could have their faces painted.
Dr. Harry Long of Sparta was the first winner of the iPad, and present at the bank to have Shara personally hand it to him, and to pose for photos.
Long said he has been a customer since the 1950’s, when he banked with Branchville National Bank, which, a few banks later, became a part of the Lakeland Bank family.
“I really enjoy my relations with them [Lakeland Bank],” Long said. “They’ve always been wonderful for me.”
Of the new Sparta branch, Long said, “It’s very nicely designed, laid out, and beautifully appointed.”
“I’m delighted to share with the community what Lakeland is all about,” said Mary Ann Deacon, Chairman of the Board since May 2011, and member of the Board of Lakeland Bancorp, Inc., since 1995. “It’s the epitome of community banking. We’re delighted to have a party in the community, to celebrate our grand opening.”
For more information about Lakeland Bank, click here.