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For 20 years, a mission to drive, innovate online banking

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
American Bank sees advantages in having a sole location, which is in South Whitehall Township.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO American Bank sees advantages in having a sole location, which is in South Whitehall Township.

It serves anyone in the United States from one location.

Turning 20 in June, American Bank continues its mission of pioneering online banking from its lone office in South Whitehall Township.

A mix of old-fashioned, friendly banker atmosphere with a savvy, high tech digital financial services model – essential when the company began in 1997 – continues to best describe American Bank’s success. Controlling costs through one office allows it to offer attractive savings and investment deposit interest rates and low mortgage and loan rates.

“My needs and best interests are the priority,” said longtime customer Michael Acker.

Acker, president of Environmental Waste Minimization Inc. in Northampton, said American Bank’s customer service has forged an important business relationship since 1999.

“We have quarterly meetings to look at trends and interest rates,” said Acker, whose company provides services including remediation, transportation and emergency services for hazardous and nonhazardous waste and soil management.

He said because his company uses expensive equipment, trucks and vehicles on a daily basis, loans and interest rates are important for business efficiency.

“When you have a banker that says you have a good deal with the loans you already have [whether or not they’re American Bank loans] and you should keep them, that’s huge,” Acker said.

FROM THE START

Sandra Berg has been with American Bank since its founding in 1997, when the late Fred Jaindl was chairman, his son Mark Jaindl was president and CEO and Berg was chief operating officer.

She said the company began in April, opening its doors to customers on June 5, 1997.

“Before we started, the bank was being built around us,” said Berg, now American Bank executive vice president and COO. Mark Jaindl has added chairman to his titles.

She’s witnessed many firsts.

“The first customer in the lobby, the first customer at the drive-thru window,” Berg said.

LITTLE NEED TO VISIT THE OFFICE

Forging a banking business during the internet’s infancy in the 1990s meant American Bank quickly became agile on digital platforms, creating virtual banking options ahead of many competitors.

With everything from electronic accounts to mobile banking, it doesn’t make sense to have a lot of brick-and-mortar offices, Berg said.

“You can open accounts and take out loans [online] without going into an office,” she said.

TRAINING, DEVELOPMENT

With staff in one location, American Bank can focus on employee training and professional development.

“We see the one location as a competitive cooperative,” said Chris J. Persichetti, executive vice president and chief lending officer.

“We offer personalized relationships [to customers] and empower our people with lending authority to make decisions. Customers like that.”

AVERSE TO FEES

Berg said American Bank’s vision to be a nonfee-based company is perhaps one of its greatest assets.

Most accounts do not have maintenance fees or minimum account balances.

“When other banks were adding fees, we went the reverse of the industry,” she said.

“We’ve removed fees to move money to another bank and are in development of same-day [transactions] for person-to-person transactions.”

DIGITIZED DOCUMENTS

Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, which are mobile phone payment apps, as well as iPhone point-of-sale transactions, are targeted June offerings to customers.

“Technology will continue to evolve and advance,” Persichetti said.

American Bank also has been at the forefront of digitizing loan documents to speed and increase transaction efficiency, such as delivering documents electronically for residential mortgage loans.

Berg said while an attorney always will be part of commercial transactions, some day even commercial real estate loan documents may become electronically available.

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