Central State Bank opens Greystone branch, expands family legacy
Published 2:52 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2023
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
HOOVER – When you walk into Central State Bank’s newest branch location on the East side of Shelby County, you quickly get a different feel than when you walk into other branches of different banks.
A family-owned bank for more than 100 years, the new Greystone branch located at 6801 Cahaba Valley Road is laid out to welcome you into their home more than their place of business.
“Traffic in the main lobby of branches has decreased significantly, but bank transactions and loans are at an all-time high,” said Central State Bank CEO Mitt Schroeder. “When we remodeled this new branch, we had that in mind. We want you to be able to come in, sit down in a comfortable setting and have a conversation. We want to treat every customer like family.”
That is evident the moment you walk into the new branch with a welcoming lobby and sitting area, traditional meeting rooms with conference tables and chairs as well as other rooms with couches and chairs and even a kitchenette.
Schroeder said it is part of the family atmosphere that has been around with the bank since 1916, which carried over to his grandfather, Roy Downs, purchasing the Calera-based bank in 1947.
Ever since, it has been in his family with Bill Schroeder taking over from 1971 until 2012 before Mitt, his brother Shane Schroeder and sister Shanda Schroeder Watts took over to carry on the legacy.
Now, the bank has expanded to include three locations in Calera, one in Alabaster, one in Pelham and the most recent opening off U.S. 280 and Doug Baker Blvd. to service more people from the eastern side of the county.
“I can’t tell you how many people we have banking with us who drive down 119 to get to our Pelham location,” Mitt said. “This not only offers them a closer location here to visit, but it also brings our footprint to a great area in the north and eastern portion of the county off of one of the busiest highways in the state.”
Mitt said he and others often get asked if they can do everything the bigger banks can, and he quickly responds with yes.
“There is nothing we can’t do that any other bank can do and our mission is to be able to do it quicker with a personable experience so that you won’t want to bank anywhere else,” he said.
That was the goal of Downs and is the mission statement that carried over to Mitt’s father. In each generation, the goal remains the same—to be about the community and the customers they represent.
Mitt said that goes for people needing credit, needing a loan of any kind quickly or any basic banking needs where you are looking to build a trusting relationship with one another that will all be handled locally.
He said any calls are handled with a person on the phone during normal business hours, saying that his mom said she would come back and haunt him if there was ever an automated system for customers, while he also pointed to the PPP loan issues from a few years ago and how his staff responded.
With approximately 300 loan applications on the Friday that PPP loans went live on April 3, 2020, the bank had to go through the process of submitting them through the Small Business Association (SBA) which required entering information in a portal that continually froze due to thousands of banks trying to do the same thing.
Right before the staff was about to give up and leave for the night, one employee finally got an application to go through.
“We then got a second to go through, which was one more than we had gotten in the previous eight hours combined,” Mitt said. “What we found, was that because it was late in the day, other banks had gone home, so the portal was freeing up.”
The loan staff ended up staying through the night that Friday night and did the same for several days to help take care of their customers. They ended up getting 90 percent of loans taken care of that first weekend.
“Taking care of your customers like that, that’s how you keep them for life,” Mitt said. “It goes back to it’s because we care. We have so many employees who have been here 20 years and customers who have been here a long time. You build relationships with people.”
Now with nearly $600 million in assets, Central State Bank has grown into one of the largest banks in the Birmingham-metro area and they’ll look to bring that same customer service to the newest location in Shelby County for those living along Valleydale, 119 or 280.
The Greystone branch is currently open, but a grand opening for the new branch will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 10:30 a.m.