Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

February 23, 2014

First Farmers opens downtown branch

New office is bank's largest outside of Converse.

It was a quiet opening for First Farmers Bank & Trust, which started up its sixth Howard County location Feb. 10 in the main lobby of the former Armstrong Landon Building in downtown Kokomo.

The branch, 101 W. Sycamore St., is the 28th branch for the Converse-headquartered bank, and the new location will also be home to some of the bank’s staffers who work in the wealth management, legal & compliance, information technology, training and marketing departments.

In all, 35 FFBT employees will work in the six-story building downtown, which Farmers purchased from the Kokomo Redevelopment Commission last year.

First Farmers CEO Gene Miles said the acquisition and remodel of the new location was an important accomplishment in the continued development of the organization.

“Clearly this represents our largest and most comprehensive facility outside of our corporate offices in Converse and it is certainly a historically significant location in the community,” Miles said. “Howard County is the communications hub of our entire network of branches and this location symbolizes that focus.”

Tera Beverly is the Banking Center manager, and the branch business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with 24-hour ATM access available in the lobby vestibule.

Bank officials said Cary Mawbey, senior commercial lender, and John Colter are the primary commercial lending officers based at the new location, and Cherie Planalp, senior vice president & chief retail officer, will also be based there.

Mike Ricci and Ryan Winger are the Raymond James FFBT wealth management financial officers at the location.

“As we get closer to some more accommodating spring weather, we look forward to planning an appropriate ribbon cutting/open house type of a celebration so we can reintroduce the building to our customers and the community,” said Tade J. Powell, the bank’s vice president of marketing and public relations.

“We’re happy to be up and running at the branch level and to have the vast majority of our departmental support staff in place. We still plan to adjust some layout arrangements to maximize the functionality, but I think we’re pleased with what we’ve been able to get done during these winter months,” said Chief Operational Officer Dave Eikenberry.

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