Customers entering American Bank on Tilghman Street in South Whitehall Township are sure to notice the elaborate trim work throughout the building, made from Pennsylvania cherry. In the lobby are chairs, coffee and cookies and a gas fireplace that's lit during the winter.
The ambience was designed to make customers feel welcome and secure about where they keep their money.
The bank does more than provide a warm environment for customers. It was rated second among small Top Workplaces in the Lehigh Valley, according to survey conducted by WorkplaceDynamics.
The bank's 52 employees enjoy generous benefits, a cordial atmosphere where workers are empowered to make decisions and feedback is encouraged, and flexibility that allows working parents to see their children in afternoon soccer matches and lacrosse games.
"You've got to enjoy coming to work," said Mark Jaindl, president and CEO of the bank. "If you enjoy coming to work, it's infectious to all those around you, whether it be your customers or your co-workers."
American Bank had $380 million in deposits as of June 30, making it the No. 3 bank in Lehigh County, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Founded 16 years ago, American Bank aimed to provide online banking services to customers around the country from its one branch. The effect has been an efficient operation.
But the efficiency doesn't come by skimping on employees. American Bank gives its workers Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas bonuses and gift cards and concert tickets as rewards for good performance.
The company pays 90 percent of the cost of medical insurance for employees, who don't pay deductibles for health care. It also gives employees discounts on mortgages and consumer loans.
Beyond that, American Bank recognizes when its employees need help and reacts accordingly, said Sandra Berg, chief operating officer.
When Hurricane Sandy knocked out power throughout the Lehigh Valley, bank employees were paid whether they reported to work or not. Those who made it in — the bank operated on a generator — received bonuses. Those who had to stay home to deal with the storm were not penalized.
The bank also empowers front-line customer service representatives to make decisions — like waiving fees for good customers. Employees feel good because they are able to help customers solve problems, and customers like that they don't have to speak with multiple managers and supervisors to solve a problem, bank officials said.
"This is a totally different environment than the typical bank," Berg said.
Sandy LeMere works at the bank as a compliance officer. She was previously a branch manager.
"When I come to work, I'm happy to be here," LeMere said. "I'm comfortable going to the bank president's office and speaking with him about an idea or suggestion, and I know he'll listen."
LeMere said she and other employees appreciate the flexibility so they can attend child sporting events and participate in community events. Her supervisors don't just allow her to leave the office at 3 p.m. to see one of her daughter Taylor's soccer games, they encourage it.
"It's nice that it's encouraged," LeMere said. "They want us to be involved in the community."
AMERICAN BANK INC.
Website: ambk.comCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times