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Community banking serves as metaphor in hurricane recovery

During the latest Fried On Business broadcast, we took some time to talk about community banking and to share some stories in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Those might sound like disparate topics. But, as you’ll see, they actually mesh very well.

Trends in Community Banking

I think community banks like Gibraltar Private Bank and Trust are evolving and taking a larger role in South Florida. On hand to discuss was T.L. Brown, Senior Vice President and Director of Growth Strategies and Client Experience at Gibraltar.

Gibraltar is a private bank, T.L. said, that prides itself on client service and individual attention.

“We know our clients by their first name. They have our cell phones. They call us 24-7, because they know that when they need something, they can get a hold of us,” he said. “That’s very important to us.”

My recent experience at Gibraltar just underscores what he’s saying. I met T.L. at the bank for lunch, and in addition to a private chef and great food, the bank’s CEO – Angel Medina Jr. – stopped by just to say hello.

It was Medina that convinced T.L. to return to banking after his retirement from the industry.

“It really comes down to relationships – how we build them, and how we maintain them. His vision is for us to use not only ourselves and our ability to maintain those relationships personally but be able to leverage technology to help us enhance the client experience,” he said.

For instance, everybody today is glued to their smartphones. Gibraltar knows that it needs to be on the cutting edge of this technology to make things more convenient for its clients.

When you sit in the lobby at Gibraltar and enjoy a nice cortadito, you’ll look at the TV monitors and eventually see the bank’s philosophy scroll by – “Trust, Loyalty and Integrity.”

“It really is the foundation of our culture and drives everything that we really are about,” T.L. said.

That trust and loyalty work both within the organization and outside in service to the clients, he said.

“We are getting ready to do some internal training, and the name of the course is ‘The Art of Serving Others.’ We’re going to make sure that we reinforce all of those things that we know are important to our organization – that help us be tried and true in service to our clients,” he said.

This was a great interview with a true gentleman in the banking business. Click here to listen to the whole conversation.

Stories From Hurricane Irma

The weekend after our show, T.L. and some friends packed up an SUV and headed for the Lower Keys to help some victims of Hurricane Irma. No doubt they’ll have some stories to tell for years to come as they reach out to people who are struggling to overcome a devastating storm.

And having been on the receiving end of Irma myself, I’ve got a few stories of my own to share.

About a week before the storm, I did some shopping for supplies. I bought a couple of cases of water – just before the store employee refilled the pallet. By the time I strolled past again, it was empty.

I knew the panic was on.

Mom was with me. I turned to her and said, “You’re getting out of town.”

“No, I’m not,” she said.

“Yes, you are.”

“No, I’m not.”

I said, “Turn on the TV.” You know what she said after that?

“Yes, I am!!!”

That left me with only one person to worry about – my wife, Vivian.

Next, the hurricane is upon us. I’m wrapping my stuff to keep it dry, but Viv thinks I’m crazy.

When she finally realizes how serious it is, Viv looks up, looks me in the eye and says, “Honey, please don’t let me die.”

As you know, Viv is suffering from end-stage kidney disease and goes to dialysis every day. So, I got us set up in a hotel that could withstand the storm and was near the dialysis center.

I also had water and Gatorade ready to go at our apartment so I could help out the good people who would be repairing it afterward. Turned out to be a good decision, because the place was a wreck.

As our odyssey continued:

– We had to change hotels. Thank you Bo Ashbel and Hampton Inn at Biscayne and 24th!

– We got a call that there may be a kidney available for Vivian. We got ready, but later we were notified that the kidney would be rejected.

– Vivian was unable to visit dialysis for four days. It almost took her life. It one point, she was resuscitated three times.

The experience has been demanding, and it’s not quite over yet. Click here to listen to the full conversation.

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