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A new year, a fresh look for bankHometown

By Rod Lee

Few individuals, few entities are turning the leaf on a new year quite as excitedly as Webster-based bankHometown, formerly Hometown Bank.

A fixture in South County for well over a century, bankHometown is roaring into 2017 with what President/CEO Michael D. Hewitt describes as “a new, fresh and modern logo and brand.” The revamp, assuring that bankHometown’s future will be “brighter than ever,” resulted from a “strategic partnership” formed through the merger of the holding companies of Hometown Bank and Easthampton Savings Bank in September of 2015.

With completion of the transaction, the combined mutual holding company immediately had more than $1.7 billion in assets and more than $180 million in equity capital and a network of twenty-three offices in central and western Massachusetts and northeast Connecticut. Those figures have grown since.

For bankHometown, the merger meant an expansion of the institution’s reach into previously untapped territory just over the border with branch offices now located in Brooklyn, Killingly, Putnam, Thompson and Woodstock.

Best of all, Mr. Hewitt said, the two banks continue to operate independently and autonomously.

During an interview on January 10th, Mr. Hewitt said his predecessor at bankHometown, Matthew S. Sosik—now president and CEO of ESB—approached him about the idea of a collaboration after ESB acquired Citizens National Bank in Putnam in 2015. “Geographically, the CNB branches fit in your footprint,” Mr. Sosik told Mr. Hewitt. As Mr. Hewitt put it after the boards of directors of both banks gave the merger an approval, “this is truly about two successful banking entities joining forces in a partnership to better serve our communities. This transaction gives us the size and scale to be competitive and successful for many years to come and expands our market presence.”

In explaining the reasoning behind the merger at the moment it occurred, Mr. Hewitt said “the dynamics of community banking have changed dramatically over the years. Operating costs are under constant pressure and net interest margins have narrowed, so now more than ever size truly does matter. For both banks, this transaction creates critical mass, even stronger finances, and a plan to better serve all of our communities for many years to come.”

Mr. Hewitt said bankHometown worked with an agency in Sturbridge to develop a contemporary new logo that essentially refreshes and reenergizes “our brand, creating an identifiable and lasting image of who we are.” The logo has been equally effective “across all of our markets,” he said.

“bankHometown has gone over fantastic. The fresh look has gone over well. It really pops when lit up at night!”

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.