Florence Bank’s new leader aims to serve

  • Kevin R. Day, new president of Florence Bank, talks with the Gazette at the bank’s headquarters. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kevin R. Day, new president of Florence Bank, talks with the Gazette at the bank's headquarters on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kevin R. Day, new president of Florence Bank, talks with the Gazette at the bank's headquarters on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kevin R. Day, new president of Florence Bank, talks with the Gazette at the bank's headquarters on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kevin R. Day, new president of Florence Bank, in the lobby of the bank's headquarters. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 3/15/2020 11:34:28 PM

When defining what it means to be a leader, incoming Florence Bank CEO Kevin Day believes there are two prevailing interpretations a person can take.

The first, he said, is the traditional idea of “leadership” — that is, guiding a group around certain ideas and directions. But the second is one that Day said “gets lost a lot” among other managers: Service.

“To me, great leaders are the ones that serve,” Day said in a recent interview held at his second-floor office in Florence. “I look at my job as being to serve the people who report to me ... and that goes to the core of what our culture is. We value customers, our communities and our staff.”

Day, 64, of Easthampton, took over as president of Florence Bank in January following the retirement announcement of CEO John F. Heaps Jr., who formerly held that position. When Heaps officially retires on May 1, Day will add CEO of the 147-year-old mutual savings bank to his resume.

Day has worked at Florence Bank since 2008 as its chief financial officer, having been promoted to executive vice president of the organization in 2016. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Day has worked in banking for 37 years, with 34 of those years spent as senior management.

Unlike many other managers in his field, Day said he’s never set ambitious goals of becoming the top brass. In fact, Day implied that his recent rise in Florence Bank was more a product of circumstance, hard work and capability.

“I have been in high-level management for my whole career, pretty much,” Day said. “And my only goal really in that time was to do the best job that I could in whatever I was doing. And that’s been my philosophy all along.”

Day is keenly aware of the challenges many local banks currently face. Larger banks are consolidating the industry by buying out the smaller, more regional competition, he said.

Florence Bank, however, is on a contrasting path of independence, according to Day. As a mutual savings bank, Florence Bank is not beholden to shareholders, he said, allowing the institution to focus more intently on the needs and desires of customers over the long-term.

“We’re always going to be here ...” he said. “We’re just woven into the fabric.”

When asked what new initiatives he’s planning on starting once he’s fully in charge, Day’s answer is surprising: “The newness is that there won’t be anything new.”

But given time to explain his answer, Day said he’s committed to continuing working and making decisions hand-in-hand with his team. He said the bank is in the middle of a five- to 10-year strategic plan that’s “really (the) initiative of the whole team.”

He touted Florence Bank’s recent expansion into Hampden County, as last year the organization opened up two branches in that county and plans to open a third in Chicopee this year. He’s made a goal to continue to build out what he called the bank’s “geographic footprint” — with two to four future branches in Hampden County. But the footprint may expand to Greenfield, as Day said, “We’ll be up there one day.”

“We think there’s plenty of opportunities here for us for many, many years to come,” Day said about the Pioneer Valley.

Banks are hardly immune to challenges, Day said, adding that they are often “hard to foresee.” But whether it’s the coronavirus affecting people’s finances, or new technology entering the fray, Day said the key to success for Florence Bank is to stay attuned to possible solutions and creative ways forward.

“Change is inevitable,” Day said. “It’s just your ability to adapt and adjust as change is going on — and I think we do that really well.”

Ultimately, Day said he wants customers to know that Florence Bank will continue to listen to their concerns under his leadership. He said he is committed to keeping itself engrained in the community through initiatives like its Customers’ Choice Community Grants, where the bank gives money to local non-profits voted on by its customers.

“No one can buy us and no one can make us merge. We have that sole decision-making power,” Day said. “We control our destiny, and we want to stay here.”

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.


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